Cévennes and Grands Causses - wildlife and walking in southern France (by train)
A relaxed week of wild flowers and country walks, exploring the Cevennes National Park and Parc Naturel des Grands Causses, in southern France.
From the rolling limestone plateaux of the Grands Causses, with their deep-cut gorges to the more rugged granite landscape of the Cevennes, the area has much to offer the naturalist. Butterflies include a variety of blues and fritillaries, coppers and heaths, with Nightingales serenading from every bush, Griffon Vultures and various other raptors circling overhead and Western Green Lizards scuttling off through the undergrowth.
The twin parks of the Cevennes and Grands Causses are particularly rich botanically, and our visit is timed to make the most of the wonderful spring flowers. Most notable is the area’s orchid diversity, with 30 or more orchids possible during our visit. The two endemics, Aymonin’s Orchid Ophrys insectifera subsp aymoninii and Aveyron Orchid Ophrys sphegodes subsp aveyronensis, which will no doubt feature high on our list of finds during the week, along with Lizard Orchid, Military Orchid and Burnt-tip Orchid in large numbers. The steppe-like grasslands of the Grands Causses are full of wild flowers, with White and Hoary Rock-rose, Pasque Flowers, Alpine Aster, Poet’s Narcissus and Wild Tulip all adding splashes of colour.
We will take daily excursions to explore the various habitats and hidden corners of the area, from the limestone grasslands to the deep river gorges. We will visit one of the area’s spectacular caves, enjoy a relaxing boat trip along the River Tarn beneath towering cliffs, and learn about local conservation projects for all three European vultures and the endangered Przewalski’s Horse, a Mongolian species being ‘rewilded’ on the Causse Mejean.