International Dark Sky Reserve
Lozère and Gard, France
Mr. Xavier Wojtaszak
6 bis place du Palais
Florac, Lozere 48400
Tel.: +33 (0)4 67 81 19 66
Cévennes National Park, or ‘Parc National des Cévennes’ in French, is a 2,973-square-kilometer national park situated mainly in the sparsely populated French départements of Lozère, Gard, Ardèche and Aveyron. The region is located in the southeastern extreme of the Massif Central, a highland region of mountains and plateaus in the middle of southern France. The land rises above the plains of the Languedoc region and slopes gradually toward the Mediterranean Sea in a series of plains alternating with a maze of deep river valleys. The park includes several mountains and high plateau including Mont Lozère, Mont Aigoual and the Causse Méjean.
Occupied by humans for at least the last 400,000 years, Cévennes is best known as the heart of the Camisard revolt of the early eighteenth century, in which French Calvinist Protestants rose up against religious persecutions following the Edict of Fontainebleau, issued by King Louis XIV in 1685. Despite its rebellious past, today Cévennes is the peaceful home of over 71,000 inhabitants living in 250 villages within its borders. They operate over 400 farms whose lands comprise one quarter of the park’s territory. It is, as National Geographic puts it, “not a pure wilderness park but a classic landscape of traditional French life.” The Park offers a diversity of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, and spelunking.
The rugged landscape and traditionally difficult life of the typical cévenol throughout history has largely kept development at bay, and the Park remains one of the darker spots in southern France. Visitors to the region increasingly come to view the night sky, largely unspoiled by skyglow as in the more densely populated regions of the country. The Park authority has done a commendable job in developing this resource carefully for the benefit of both public outreach as well as sustainable tourism.
“Une nuit dans les Cévennes” (‘A Night In The Cevennes’) by Guillaume Cannat