On Sunday afternoon, my DB and I drove up towards St-Bauzille-de-Putois and turned off to drive to Montoulieu which is dominated by its own ruined castle, called the Castellas. In 1626, Cardinal Richelieu wanted to calm the local noblemen, and had the castle dismantled. Apparently it was still a place of shelter until it was burned down with its owner, de Montoulieu, looking on in 1703 by Montrevel who was in command of the royal troops in Languedoc. He was irritated with the family for supporting the Camisards. The Cevennes was a hotbed of religious revolt against the Catholic Church at that time which didn't go down well at all.
We didn't in fact stop in Montoulieu (more on its history here), but turned right towards the hamlet of La Vielle where you can park on the tiny central square and follow the directions on the signpost.
|We ended up walking 6.8km, about 10,000 steps :)|
|Seen along the way - home-made catamaran|
|View towards the Cevennes|
Peaceful, that is, until a small van lurches up the track in a haze of diesel fumes spilling out the five people and two dogs crammed inside with loud exclamations. Oh, how lovely, it's a group of the colourful and quaint people so beloved of bobos from afar - gitans. Why they couldn't park their car at the bottom and walk up the hill like the rest of us, I don't know. The track is of course forbidden to unauthorised vehicles, but I expect they thought such instructions didn't apply to them.
|Inside the chapel Notre-Dame-de-Monnier|
|Seen along the way - movable look-out post for hunters?|
We also saw evidence of wild boars but no actual animals (thank goodness). When we set out, we expected to be practically the only ones on the path, but just because it was new to us, didn't mean it was unknown to others, and we saw a dozen or so walkers (not including the gitans who weren't walking) in total. It was a beautiful day to be outside and enjoying the sunshine and early Spring warmth.
|View across to the Cevennes. You can zoom in on the Castellas in the middle.|
|Drinking water on tap in La Vielle|
|Wild boars slept here|
The narrow road continued on upwards with hairpin bend after hairpin bend. We didn't stop at the Prieuré de St Martin de Cézas although it looked very interesting, and at the top, 700m altitude, we found the dinky hamlet of Cézas, absolutely miles from anywhere. As we slowly passed a bloke on a tiny tractor chatting to another man and his dog, I spied a signpost indicating some public footpaths which looked promising.
|Hamlet of Cézas|
The pdf of the hermitage walk in its different versions is here.
Walks in the Cevennes here.
Someone else has been there too (with pics) here.