Grands Causses Natural Park
The Natural Regional Park reserve of the Grands Causses, at the heart of one of the most beautiful landscapes of Europe
The Grands Causses Natural Regional Park was created in 1995, stretching over 330,000ha of Southern Aveyron and contains 97 communes.
Its role is to protect and highlight naturally and culturally unique heritage, while enabling its inhabitants to maintain and develop their activities. The Park Charter presents the Park’s missions and registers them in a sustainable development perspective. The territory is also an important living space with almost 68,000 inhabitants and many workers. There are 1,800 farms and 1,400 cottage industries, symbolising both employment and tradition! The aim is to highlight the agropastoral vocation of the Grands Causses.
The Grands Causses are located at the South of the Massif Central, and bordered on the East by the Cévennes, on the North by the Lot Valley and on the South by the Bas-Languedoc plains. They extend to the West and Southwest via the Lévézou plateaux and the Lacaune Hills.
The Causses and Gorges
These agropastoral landscapes are not unlike the steppes and have been home to flocks of sheep for centuries. The causses (to the East of the territory, the Larzac causse being the most famous for its military camp and militant struggles) comprise vast limestone plateaux, gashed out with deep canyons. You can practise all sorts of outdoor sports here.
The avant-Causses (Foothills)
A beautiful collection of hills and little plateaux that shelter in their folds towns like Millau with its famous Viaduct, or St Affrique.
These lands stretch between the causses and the forests. Their landscape has contrasting colours, dotted with villages, abbeys and old castles.
The Lévézou Hills
These mountains are veritable natural barriers at the edge of the Park covered mainly with beech, chestnut and oak trees, as well as some more contemporary plantations.
So rich in fauna and flora
The heritage of the Grands Causses Natural Park is quite simply exceptional. No less than 200 remarkable plant species have been recorded, 28 of which are protected species.
With regard to fauna, over 220 species of verterbrae are to be found in the Park. While it is difficult to list them all, it is worth pointing out that there are some remarkable species of birds of prey, such as the vultures (griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, the cinereous or black vulture…). The Park is the only area in the Midi-Pyrénées region where you can find the European beaver.
3 major rivers flow through the Grands Causses Natural Regional Park: the Tarn, the Aveyron and the Lot. Along with its main tributaries, the Park contains some 480kms of rivers, providing extremely rich flora and fauna.
The function of rural buildings has heavily influenced their architecture, the style of which is a result of several constraints, be it geological (materials extracted from the local environment), technical (assembling these materials), topographical or weather conditions. Over time, these contingencies have played a role in creating conditions and know-how. Each landscape in the Grands Causses Natural Park presents its own type of heritage which, for some, is considered emblematic.