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Aven Armand and a long trip

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Wednesday 14 June, Aven Armand and a long trip

It is warm when we wake up and Elisabeth does want to spend a day at the campsite. I would like to go out and see the Aven Armand cave, but first I have to look for lpg, because the tank is almost empty again.
Churchyard Gorges the la JonteI try to drive through Aguessac via a steep road over the mountains to the highway, but half way the road ends because of roadworks and I have to go back. The view from here is very nice, but I will really have to choose a different route. First I go to the Aven Armand cave and afterwards I look for autogas and so I come again through the Gorges de la Jonte.
An Aven is a kind of dome cave that originated in limestone-bearing soil. Acid rainwater dissolves the limestone slowly and erosion and the collapse of walls that are unstable do the rest. In the long run, a dome is created with often an opening at the top to the outside. The Aven Armand is one of the most famous in France.
Aven d'Armand Aven d'ArmandWith a train we go down to the middle of the cave where we step into a huge cave, over 100 meters high and at least as wide. In the depth below we see a huge petrified forest, stalagmites up to 30 meters high. Unfortunately, the room is much too big and too dark to make a nice overview photo, because it is really impressive.
Aven d'Armand Aven d'ArmandThe dripstone pillars have obviously all taken on separate forms and many of them have been given their own names. That is also so nice about dripstone caves, it stimulates the fantasy to recognize shapes just as you can do with clouds. But in the hall of a thousand-and-a-night, as the big hall is called, not much fantasy is needed. We walk all the way down and there goes a second shaft over 80 meters into the depth. It is very different from a cave system with corridors and here and there a hall, such an Aven. Very impressive.
Sainte Enimie, on the Causses Sainte Enimie, on the CaussesThe landscape outside is at least as impressive, especially when I come to Sainte Enimie that I approach from above. But I drive to Mende where there is a gas station. Along the Mont Loz, I drive back south towards Florac. This mountain has a bare flattened top of nearly 50 square kilometers, the largest part of which lies at an altitude of more than 1600 meters!
Then follows a long road that is interesting, and sometimes not. Afterwards I discover that I wanted to take a different route, namely the Corniche des Cevennes, now I drive north on the D13, with slightly less scenic landscapes.
Sheep on the roadThere are barely tourists here and there is little local traffic on the road, but occasionally a herd of sheep walk across the road with a number of men around it to stop the cars. The road meanders, falls and rises, although the mountains here are already clearly flatten out and the gorges are not so deep. From St.-Hippolyte-du-Fort it is even completely flat. Yet it takes more time than I expected to drive back so at 6 o'clock I phone Elisabeth that it can take a few hours before I am back.
Mont AigoualOf course I can drive back a faster way, but I also want to drive on the Col de Serreyrè, a long and steep climb overlooking Mont Aigoual. The mountain now looks completely covered with woods, but it took a lot of reforestation over the last 130 years to get it as it is now. It is hot outside and the tires stick to the soft asphalt. Once I am on the top, I have a sore neck of trying to look around the bends.
Village at Meyrueis MeyrueisBy 8 am I drive through Meyrueis and from here on a road that I know. All in all, the drive lasted much longer than I had planned while I have seen and done much less. If I study the map again later, I can map out a shorter, much nicer route. A little too enthusiastic and a too little planning, but well, that's afterwards.
At half past 8 I am back at the campsite where Elisabeth has spent a peaceful day with a few books. She has also gained a nice tan in the sun. It is still very warm and on the terrace of the campsite we enjoy for a while the remainder of the day with a cold drink.


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