Hiking in the Hérault*

We made it back to Mourèze, a town I’d mentioned in my last post, and you know what? I still want to go back. Mourèze is a ducky little hill town about 45 minutes outside of Montpellier, which I’m sure is all the duckier when the cafés are open. Its main attraction however, is the excellent hiking that the Cirque de Mourèze affords. The Michelin Guide considers it a three-star attraction, which means it is worth building a trip around. I agree. I would love to come back and spend a week here or at very least an overnight, on a full moon preferably.

The name cirque does not mean a circus, but rather a crater, surrounded by eroded dolomite columns. The site was occupied from neolithic times until the Bronze Age. I’m sure it made for excellent, if not palatial digs in those days. A Bronze Age shelter was found at the site, reportedly in good shape, whatever that means archaeologically speaking. I’m guessing not in move-in condition.

The last time we were there it was too late to go hiking; this time we packed up early (sandwiches, coffee) and headed out with our Covid bubble, Paul, Paula, and Kate. The hike is a four-hour loop, as strenuous as you might imagine. Some of the going was quite tricky. We did not do the whole trail. My legs are not back to pre-confinement strength, I know the others felt the same. But the section we did was glorious, as was the day, despite a decent wind.

Paula and Paul. Going down was tougher than going up.

Afterwards we took a spin around the nearby Lac du Salagou, which is a man-made reservoir, designed as irrigation for agriculture as well as to regulate the flooding of the Hérault river. The soils are an iron-oxide argilite, which causes its unusual and gorgeous topography. The whole region is enough to make you run out of superlatives.

If we were in a band, this would be our album cover.

The whole area warrants a longer stay. Indeed, the more we explore the region, the less enthusiastic I am to return to Paris. But return we must, to Paris, and to the hills of the Hérault.

*The Hérault is the name of our department, which roughly corresponds to a state in the US.


      1. I think that I have seen the backroads of France until I get your photos. More to do, more to see. What a glorious time you seem to be creating in spite of this pandemic!

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