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 The Geographical situation of the canton Meyrueis 

le canton Meyrueis
The six communes of the Meyrueis-canton cover a total of 28300 hectares.

They are situated in the  South- West-Ouest of the departement la Lozère, adjacent with the departements le Gard and l'Aveyron.

The landscapes are of an amazing diversity...
This is resulting from the variety of geological  layer and height.        
About geology.
     We can define 3 zones
  • the cévenol part (the cévennes) , reaching from the North side of the  Mont Aigoual
  • the caussenarde part (the causses)encompasses   the vaste table-plateaus the causse Méjean and the causse Noir
  • and the Gorges de la Jonte, between le
    Rozier and Meyrueis.


    This  nice little town, the so-called 'chef-lieu' of the canton, is situated in the heart of the valley, being  the centre of the different parts of the country.

    The river  la Jonte is the axis of the territory, scouring in East-West direction.

Meyrueis à la Jonte

La Jonte rises at 1450 m height, close to the top of the Mont Aigoual (1567 m), the massif of schiste and granite.
        After a few kilometers she meets the Causse Méjean, then she's following this formidable limestone barrier towards Meyrueis.
There she confluents with la Brèze and le Bétuzon, affluents irrigating the cévenol parts of the country, before running through  the impressionating Gorges,

separating the  Causse Méjean from the Causse Noir.
Finally, in le Rozier,  she meets the river Tarn on her westwards voyage to la Garonne and the Atlantic ocean.

The Causses, of wild beauty,  stretch away to both sides of the Gorges.
        The climat is  a mixture of the middle-height mountain type and  Mediterranen influences (70 km bird's-eye view).
Severe winters, warm summers and relatively much sunshine  (more than 1500 hours/year).
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This country was already populated in the prehistory, living it's height in the beginning of the XIXth century.
About 1850, the rural exode harasses the canton, which lost in one century two-third of its inhabitants.

This profound human erosion treated some of the communes with total desertification.

Although the Causse Méjean is one off the most thinly inhabited regions of Europe: 1,2 inhabitants /km², the canton's population is  stabilised now, with about 1350 to 1400  persons.

woman and well

habitations dispersées

This hardworking population makes the country living, maintaining agricultural activity often completed with new created activities to earn their living.
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Meyrueis jadis


l'une des richesse de la région Tourisme is a long tradition in these canton. Halfway the XIXth century, distinguished families of Montpellier, Nîmes and Marseille came spending their summer in Meyrueis.

E.A. Martel, explorator of numerous caves and other natural interesting sites, gave a important impulse to the regional affairs.
Meyrueis woke up for the revaluation of it's patrimony and opened to the outer world by construction of new roads.

About 1890: roads, acces in caves, paths, hotels, excursions by boat (en calèche) and the so-called 'Syndicat d'Initiative' were created.
During the years 1890/1930 the renown of the region continues to grow.
After 1936 and the paid leave the tourism becomes perpetuated.

In the last years tourist equipments are improved and multipled, conform modern requirements.

Castelbouc, gorges du Tarn

Besides beauty, rest and tranquillity the region Meyrueis now also offers numerous outdoor-sport possibilities and other active nature experiences. Tourism is a factor of importance in the regional economie.

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Two activities are dominating the cantonal economie : 'agriculture and tourism.
The main agricultural activity at the Causses is ovine stock-breeding.

tonte à l'ancienne The biggest part of the sheep milk  is collected for the famous Roquefort-cheese but their are  also other traditional local less known but good tasting cheeses.
In the most remoted farms the sheeps are grown for meat. Meat of quality with a delicat fine tast.

The farmers diversify their activities with reception in 'tables d'hôtes' and 'chambres d'hôtes'.

Schools, services, commerces, hotels, artisans, a home for the aged, and little entreprises like one of the oldest Citroén-garage, le "Fédou" at Hyelzas and some others offers work to the people.
In the cevenol part of the canton goatkeeping is the main stock-breeding. The goat-milk is for the production of the 'pélardon' ( traditional little goatcheese of the Cévennes).

Some cows and horses share the relatively rich meadows of the valleys. Step beatiful valleys covered for lion's share with forest and chestnut-orchard.
chêvres cévenoles
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The country of Meyrueis covers   several historical different territories. Which were in previous centuries did not always agree.

Celtic peoples shared the regin:
Gabales at the Causse Méjean,
Ruthènes in le Rozier and at the Causse Noir, Volques Arécomîques in Meyrueis and at the Mont Aigoual.
The  Roman domination became witness of the foundation of Meyrueis and the installation of the  potters in le Rozie. Afterwards the Francs the  Wisigoths, and the  Sarrazins were fighting for the posession of the region.

In the late Middle Ages mighty families like les Bermont d'Anduze in Meyrueis and les Capluc in Rozier, created feudal estates.
rentrez dans l'histoire

At the same time the Benedictins,   installed in the valleys
started cutting trees and valorising the land of the Causses. The creation of the villages at the Causses became a fact.. Avec l'essor With the demographical grow  in the XIIth century and the technical evolution the region came into it's commercial period.

View in the gorges

The merchants became part of the society of Meyrueis, creating actif fairs and municipal autonomy.
Meyrueis, 'chef-lieu' of the canton  became the beating heart of the regional economy.

But the barriers, héritated of the Antiquity continued during all the period of the ' l'Ancien Régime'.

They kept dividing the canton administratif in the provinces le Gévaudan and le Languedoc, and religious in the dioceses of Mende and Nîmes. 'La Guerre de 100 ans', the pestilence and the religous wars in the XVIth and XVII th century ravaged the region.
The  XVIIIth century brought better times by a  economical development based on agriculture, but very bad times for the protestants suffering religious persecutions in the  cevenol part of the country.

Artisans, public and commercial services and the  negotiation of textile (wool, the spinning of
coton and silk) are the supports of an harmonic economy.
The Revolution reunites  officially the canton integrating it in the new  department la Lozère.
At the Causses they've  got a bad period then,  because of their  fidelity to the King and Church.
window of 'château du Roquedols' The XIXth century is the prosperous industrial period of Meyrueis (hat- and nail-manufactories, silk, mining ...).  Then came the decline.

Of 1850, the canton sees diminuating it's economic activities and population. Then the   war of  914 kills a tragic big number of man.
The birth of  tourism  about 1890 thanks to the  regional beauty was it's good luck.
Also the second world war brought tragic, like the combat in La Parade (May 44).
The last decenniums were full of progres: rentals, equipments, roads and watersupply at the Causses are realised.
In spite of the difficulties that the wild rough nature procures, people and agricultural professions maintains.
The hospitality of the beautiful region Meyrueis might be yours in future.
sculptures naturelles

Text: Philippe CHAMBON

Inquries at the O. T. S.I.'s :

les Offices du Tourisme
le ROZIER - 48150

OTSI Meyrueis
48150 Meyrueis

tel.  0033 (0)4 66 45 60 33
fax. 0033 (0)4 66 45 65 27

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