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.