Located to the north of the upper Cévennes, Mont-Lozère is the highest summit in the Causses and Cévennes Property, culminating at 1,699 m in altitude. This granite outcrop pierced through the shale 300 million years ago and is connected by ridges of converging micro-granite veins to the territory’s other massif, Mont-Aigoual (1,567 m). Its crest has an altitude of 1,400 m for over 25 km, sheltering the highest inhabited villages in a mountain climate.
Its vast, smooth expanses are dotted with rounded granite balls shaped by erosion. Small streams flow amid the peat bogs, which are home to precious endemic flora. The high-altitude grasslands and moors are major cattle-farming areas and sheep also head there for the transhumance. Around 20,000 sheep still spend the summer there, where they find green grass and a cool climate, safe beneath the watchful eye of the shepherds, while the lower Cévennes valleys are very dry. In the old days, around 100,000 sheep used to arrive there, all decorated with pompoms and bells for the transhumance festival, which departed from Gard and Hérault.
The hamlets built from large granite blocks, sometimes with no binding medium, boast especially remarkable architecture.
The villages were once self-sufficient due to the harsh weather conditions, and have kept their community heritage alive: this would typically include a bread oven, shoeing stall, fountain and storm bell tower. The latter was used to guide people who were lost in the winter storms, amongst other functions. This rural heritage and the agricultural activity that still thrives on the massif help to preserve the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) recognised by UNESCO upon listing the Causses and Cévennes as a World Heritage Site.
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