Near Florac in the Cévennes Causse region on the southwest flanc of Mount Lozère, one peak – the Puecheral – stands out from the others. On this day, the hike starts from Bedouès. In thick fog we set out for the summit at a modest 1000 m altitude. Fifteen kilometres in the fog can be very demotivating, but we hope for the best.
Ninety minutes out, the fog lifts, or rather the fog ceiling drops and we are suddenly in brilliant sunlight. Emerging from the gloom, we witness a spectacle of nature experienced only by those who take time to hike in the mountains. Valley floors of the Tarn, the Tarnon and tributaries covered in white fog, but peaks and plateaus in such intense light the eyes almost hurt. This is wintertime, so the low angle midday sun provides sidelit contrasts that are only visible a few months of the year.
What to see on the trail :
- the Issenges (or Yssenges) manor house, perched today on the edge of a sea of fog. Built in the 17 century, it was sometimes described as the most desirable residence in the department of Lozere. Little information is available publicly on this private house, but the view across the sea of fog is entirely open for all to admire from a distance.
- the Bedouès “collégiale” : Towering over the village of Bedouès, this fortified church was erected by order of Guillaume de Grimouard in 1363 to honour his parents. Guillaume, born near Bedouès had become Pope Urban V in Avignon in 1362 so he had some leverage. Of course this building was damaged, destroyed and rebuilt a few times over the years like many in the Cévennes region. The current structure, built of local schist stone, is in the form of a latin cross and has a remarkable coat of arms of Urban V on the tympanum above the main entrance.