Careful inspection of
the wild mountain slopes will reveal many overgrown 'bancels' (the
local name for terraces), where communities flourished, but climatic
disasters, bitter catholic/protestant wars and more recently, the lure
of the city have led to a severe reduction in habitation.
The local villages and
hamlets still live on, their massive walls built in the local stone
resisting nature's attempts to reclaim. The resurgence of interest in
the countryside has now reversed the exodus of people. Sensitive
restoration work has revitalised villages such as Ste. Enimie, and
bears rich testimony to medieval life.
Florac, with 2000
inhabitants, is the main gateway to the Gorges du Tarn region, and a
popular tourist centre in the summer. Mende, the administrative
capital, is the only town in the region, and is a further hour's
drive over the mountains. The rest of the Cévennes is pure solitude.
If you forget your baguette for the day, the sun will rise before you
can walk to the next shop. Nightlife is left to the owls.