Lozère is something of an odd-ball, differing from neighbouring departments in many ways: it has no Mediterranean coast and no major cities. It is rugged and mountainous, and not at all suited to wine-production.
Often described as the Scotland of France, though it lies just 100km north of the Mediterranean, Lozère is a place of rolling landscapes and a very special quality of light. This is the South of France without the crowds, deeply rural and ideal for country holidays, for relaxing and unwinding.
If you love rural France you will love Lozère. It is a gateway that links of the mountains of the Massif Central and the coastal plains of the Languedoc. Lozère is the least populated area of France, a place where nature is sublime, untamed, awesome at times and, well, empty. In fact, it is the space that instantly impresses.
Indeed, Lozère is famous for its cheeses - it even had quite a reputation for cheese-making 2,000 years ago. Today, Roquefort, Bleu des Causses, and Tomme de Lozère are produced, the latter used in the regional dish, aligot – a delicious mix of mashed potato and cheese.
Lozère's villages are composed of blue-tinted shale, limestone and granite houses, giving them a northern feel. And the wildlife of Lozère is astounding, too: wolves prowl the Gévaudan area, and European bison roam the high plains. Vultures, mainly griffon, can often be found circling above the Jonte gorges.
The geography of Lozère is complicated, covering four mountain ranges. In the north-west, the basalt plateau of Aubrac rises between 1,000 and 1,450m, with a cold humid climate influenced by the Atlantic. The north and north-east of the department contains the Margeride mountains, which are formed of granite, and have peaks between 1,000 and 1,550m. The climate here is also cold, but dryer than Aubrac, with less snow.
The Causses are a series of very dry calcium plateaus in the south-west, and the south-east contains the Cévennes, which include the highest point in the department, the granite Mont Lozère at 1,702m.
Economically, Lozère is agricultural, producing those superb cheeses and other dairy products. Tourism is developing, however, and the area is fast becoming a favourite with walkers, bird-watchers, campers and rock climbers.
The Lozère is much less popular than its Mediterranean neighbours; not really a place for sun-seekers or city-slickers. But the region is extravagantly beautiful, with the tang of wild places; perfect for anyone looking to get away from it all.
du Tourisme de la Lozère
14b, bd Henri Bourrillon, 48000 Mende
Tel: 04 66 65 60 00