The area of the Causses and Cévennes, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is varied and magnifent. In the Causses, herds graze on the vast natural grasses along what is known as ‘parcours’ or paths. The mountainous massifs of the land (Mount Aigoual – 1,565m and Mount-Lozère – 1,699m) become a veritable theatre of action from June, when the transhumance occurs – a seasonal movement of people and livestock as cattle and sheep herds arrive on the scene. As for the Cévennes valleys, their adapted slopes and terraces welcome goats that graze under the foliage of the chestnut trees in autumn.
Roger st Pierre takes a look at the fabulous local produce of this lovely south-eastern part of France…
Lozère’s gold? It’s liquid and it is called honey – and it comes in many guises, depending on which flowers have gifted their sweet nectar to the busy worker bees.
Heather, blackberry, chestnut: each gives a unique flavour and colour and France’s leading apiculture region offers a unique opportunity for visitors to don protective clothing and empty a hive of its honeycomb.
Turning their back on food miles and pollution, Lozèriens are ‘locavores’ by nature, preferring products of local provenance – and they favour going organic too, especially when making aligot, that mouth-watering purée of potato, fresh cheese and garlic whose serving is a time-honoured ritual at the local table.
By preference, aligot is served accompanied by a piece of local sausage, stuffed with a mix of meat and Swiss chard, or by an entrecote steak of locally reared Aubrac beef.
Other local specialities include truffade (another delicious potato dish), tripe, wild boar stew, braised mushrooms, fougasse (a local flatbread), lamb, confit and magret of duck, chestnuts…
So is there space left for cheese? Lozère produces 48 different appellations of fromage, of which five have coveted ‘Origine Controlée’ status. Among them is the distinctive Pélardon, Roquefort and Bleu des Causses. Bleu des Causses is made in the heart of the Causses an area riddled with limestone caves and it is in these caves that the cheeses are matured. Cool, damp air passes through the caves carrying the mould spores which encourage the development of the blue.
There are numerous food-based fetes and fairs in the region, including the famous Soup Festival at Florac and the Toqués des Cèpes mushroom event at Mende.
Good restaurants abound. Indeed, Lozère is among France’s most Michelin toque-laden departments but there’s good eating to be had at the lower end of the financial scale too, with €12-15 three-course set menus not impossible to find.
See the spectacular transhumance take place in Cévennes:
For more information on Lozère see:
The last wild horses in France
Leisure in Lozère – off the beaten track in the south of France
Islands in the sky – Cévennes and the Grand Causses
Despite his French name, veteran globetrotting writer Roger St. Pierre is proudly British. He is, though, passionately Francophile and has been to every one of France’s 94 metropolitan departments – Lozère in the Languedoc-Roussillon region is one of his favourites.
This article is reproduced courtesy of www.allwaystraveller (the International Alliance of Travel Writers website) and Lozère Tourism.