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Mende, France and the Lozere

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Mende, France capital of the Lozere

Mende, France capital of the Lozere

Jean-Jacques MILAN

Mende, France:

Mende, in the rural and mountainous Lozere, is a small city of about 12,000 people. This is a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to be in a town, but in the midst of nature at its finest, unique wildlife and outdoor activities like hang gliding, mountain climbing and canoeing.

A quaint city in the green and cool Lot Valley, it is dominated by its awesome and inspiring 14th century gothic cathedral.

Mende and the Outdoor Adventures of the Lozere:

You could hardly find a more ideal center for outdoor activities, be it horse-back riding, mountain biking, hiking, speleology or kayaking. Mende is at the doorstep of the Cevennes National Forest.

It is close to the breathtaking Gorges du Tarn, a massive 25-mile canyon. Nearby, Bagnols les Bains is a wonderful thermal spa town, featuring a casino and its own selection of great outdoor activities.

Traveling around this area, one gets the sense of escaping into the true wilderness. There are splendid examples of nature at its finest at almost every turn.

Mende's Urban Side:

What is wonderful about using Mende as a base for exploring this region is that it is a tiny oasis of civilization in the wilds. Although this city is no metropolis, it features all the basic necessities: pharmacies, bakeries, fine dining, shopping and a nice selection of hotels.

History and Geography of the Lozere:

Recorded history of Mende dates back to the 3rd century, but things really get bustling during the Middle Ages. During that time, Mende and the Lozère thrive as a crossroads. The city also suffers through religious wars and the plague before emerging as a simple departmental capital with a small-town feel.

The geography of the Lozère is dramatically varied: deep valleys marked by bubbling streams, steep cliffs, plunging gorges and the dots of the Cevennes mountains. A large portion of the department is consumed by the Parc National des Cevennes, a stunningly beautiful mountainous playground.

Getting Around Mende:

Although there are methods of public transportation available, they are limited. There are also numerous sites off the beaten track here. For the best experience, a car rental is probably ideal.

The Transport Urbain Mendois (TUM) does circulate the city, and is a real bargain (6 && for a 10-ride card). If you simply plan to stay in town, this will certainly suffice.

The bus does stop at the train station, but not as frequently as other stops. It will usually be timed to stop after trains get to the station. If you plan to go from train to bus, be sure to hustle to the bus stop after you arrive.

Sightseeing in Mende:

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat de Mende was first built by the pope for which the place is named. The cathedral serves as a psychological and physical hub of Mende, and it would be impossible to miss its imposing towers from the city center.

Although Mende does not have any major shopping centers, what it has is truly more pleasant. Stroll the streets of its city center for a sampling of boutiques and locally-owned shops. Some of the best finds are jewelry, wooden sculptures, pottery and textiles. There are a few shops specializing in beautiful pottery and local creations.

Natural Wonders of the Lozere:

The Gorges du Tarn are one of the most amazing attractions in Europe. Be sure to bring a camera before you venture into the gorge area (or perhaps a waterproof one if you will be on the rivers and streams winding through it). In some passes of the gorge, the surrounding cliff walls soar 1,600 above. It spans about 30 miles and passes through several villages.

The Cevennes National Park is an amazing world unto its own. There are 225,000 acres in the park’s core, and another 568,000 acres make up the periphery. The park has been designated a world biosphere reserve and the Cevennes span a variety of micro-climates.

Booking Options in Mende, France:

  • Compare prices for hotels at Kayak
  • Search for flights to the nearest airports: Montpellier or Rodez
  • Book a rental car for pickup in Montpellier or in Rodez
  • Book a France rail pass

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