Bob Gibbons/Natural History Travel,

24 Newborough Road, Wimborne

Dorset BH21 1RD. UK. Tel 0044-(0)1202 849142

bobgibbons@btinternet.com 

    May 24th– June 1st,  2020

     

    FRANCE: The Cévennes and Vercors

     

    Price: £ 1695 inc flights, £ 1395 ex flights

     

    Leaders: Bob Gibbons & Martin Warren

     

    The Cévennes is one of the most attractive and spectacular areas of France. From our base at the point where two gorges meet, we can explore the rich and varied flora and fauna of the wonderful limestone plateaux and valleys. Then we transfer to the extraordinary Vercors mountains, spectacularly flowery, yet rarely visited. The total range of species to be seen on this 9-day trip is huge.

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    We leave Heathrow in the morning, arriving in Toulouse by late morning, to travel to our first base at Le Rozier, with stops on the way. The attractive village of Le Rozier lies at the junction of the Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de la Jonte, amongst outstanding scenery. From here, we can walk straight out into the surrounding gorges and hills, and travel further afield onto the high causses(limestone plateaux) and mountain areas in the Cévennes National Park, visiting places with evocative names like the Causse Noir and the Chaos de Montpellier-le-vieux. We are only a mile from a large Griffon vulture breeding colony, and we should get good views of the birds on most days. 

    After 4 nights at Le Rozier, we move eastwards to our base in the Vercors mountains, in a lovely old chateau with the most spectacular views of the mountains.  A swim in the pool, with birds of prey overhead, swallows dipping in for a drink, and the mountains in the background, is a magical experience! The Vercors mountains have a superb and easily-accessible flora and fauna, amongst the lovely flowery meadows, ancient beech-woods, high pastures and spectacular cliffs. On our previous trips, we have always seen huge clumps of Lady’s slipper orchidswithin half mile of the hotel, and another day ended with seeing a golden eagle flying over carrying a young marmot – it’s that sort of place!

     The Cévennes has a wonderful flora and fauna, thanks to its diverse geology and unspoilt nature, bathed by the warm sun of southern France. There are orchids in abundance, including endemic specialities like the lovely Ophrys aveyronensis. We should also see at least two species of daffodils, several wintergreens including the delightful little one-flowered wintergreen, Alpine asters, Cornflowers and Corn cockles, globularias, Venus’ looking-glass, Pasque flowers, May-lilies and many others too numerous to mention. The bird-life is rich and varied, from vultures and Short-toed eagles, to Nightingales, Red-backed and Woodchat shrikes, and Ortolan buntings. The butterflies are also outstanding, and there are some interesting dragonflies along the river valleys. There is always something of interest to see.

     If the Vercors mountains were not quite so close to the alps, they would have far more visitors and admirers. As it is, they remain wonderfully unspoilt and undiscovered. The flora and fauna of our area, on the east side, is magnificent – a glorious mixture of southern, northern and alpine, in spectacular mountain scenery. In addition to seeing many of the species that you might expect in a limestone area of southern France, the presence of mountain species such as Globe-flowered orchids, Orchis spitzeliiand O. pallensas well as Apollo butterflies and marmots is a marvellous bonus. After 4 nights here, we drive to Lyon for a late afternoon flight home.

    The tour price includes return flights, all transport, half-board accommodation; services of leaders, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. All rooms have private facilities. We will buy picnic materials locally for lunch, or take a packed lunch from the hotel.  ∆ Tour grade. Tour code:NHT/20/04.  Price:£ 1695; Single room supplement £ 175; Deposit:£ 400.