The Cevennes is a large national park in south central France. It consists of large plateaus- called 'Causses' and deep gorges separating them like the one shown in this picture. The left side of this gorge is Causse Mejean and the right side is Causse Sauveterre. Atop the plateaus is an alpine-looking environment of stunted trees and open grazing land. It was just barely above freezing during our visit in May adding an element of cold mist to the landscape as well.
The main attractions on the plateaus are areas of unusual rock formations (called Chaos locally) and caves. This is Aven Armand which is a single cave set into Causse Mejean.
Aven Armand is basically just one enormous cavern with a truly spectacular array of stalagmites. The tour consists of a funicular down to the cave and a paved path that winds down to the bottom where there are several small ponds and then back up in a loop. It is an extremely active cave as there is constantly water dripping through from the surface.
Along with the stalagmites there are some other interesting formations including the 'bacon'-like structures in this picture.
North and west of Causse Mejean is the Gorges du Tarn. The Tarn has cut a very deep and impressive canyon through the Cevennes. The u-bend here is the Cirque de Chely and there is a fantastic viewpoint from atop the Causse.
Sitting down inside the cirque is the town of Chely. It is typical of the gorge towns in the Cevennes region in that it is small and pinned up against the river. Chely has a bridge to reach it. Some of the smallest villages are connected by hand cranked cable-cars over the Tarn.
Upstream from Chely is the crossroads town of Sainte Enimie. Inside the Cevennes park there are several small towns. A few of them have one or two small hotels but it is just as popular to stay in farms or gites (bed and breakfasts) with a few rooms each.
The road along the Tarn River is an attraction by itself. Several people told us that in the summer this can be one long string of traffic stretching halfway across the park. On our visit there were very few other cars, even along the Tarn.
Canoeing is popular on several of the rivers in the park as well. We had intended to kayak on the Tarn but given the near-freezing temperatures we thought better of it as we hadn't exactly brought the appropriate cold-weather kayaking gear with us.
Just on the west edge of the Cevennes is the town of Millau which we used as our base. Millau is a compact town where the Tarn River opens up into a much wider valley. Just slightly further downstream from Millau is the Millau Viaduct which provides an autoroute connection from central France to southern France. As of May of 2010 this was the tallest bridge in the world (which actually refers to the total height and not just the road bed height).
For a little bit of scale, in the center of this picture is the old bridge over the Tarn River which required a winding series of switchbacks on both sides of the valley. The central pylon in this picture is actually taller than the Eiffel Tower. In the background are Causse Noir and Causse Mejean in the Cevennes.