Canine adventure at Cité de Pierres

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©Tsingy A La Cite De Pierres 004laetitia Raisin Robert|Laetitia Raisin Robert
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An absolute must on the Grands Causses!

Wandering through a forest of phantasmagorically shaped rocks is an incredible adventure for me, a quadruped, as well as for my masters. The Cité de Pierres in Montpellier-le-Vieux is a unique outdoor playground to share with the whole family.

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©Tsingy A La Cite De Pierres 015laetitia Raisin Robert

TSINGY, 4-year-old border-collie australian shepherd dog

A dog in the City of Stones

This morning, we set off early from Millau, heading for the Causse Noir and the Cité de Pierres.

Walking shoes, water bottles and my lunch tin are in the trunk. Wow, does it smell like a walk! Barely arrived at Montpellier-le-Vieux, I get a little pat from Serge.

The map given at the entrance is quite comprehensive: the different routes, signposting, level of difficulty, shady spots, points of interest… Woof, off we go for a cani-rando.

At 860m altitude, it’s cool, perfect for hiking.

Walking in total freedom

The trails are well marked and maintained. The markers are within truffle range, with respect for nature and the beauty of the site.

Half shade, half sun; half vegetation, half rocks.
The main tree species of the Grands Causses are represented. Ffffff, it smells of thyme and juniper.

It’s easy to see why you have to pay for the site: for the preservation and upkeep of this magnificent “jungle”.

Expert advice

Here’s what the Cité de Pierres has to offer: 6 walks from 30mn to 4h, at different levels, all signposted and with interpretation panels. You can put together your own tour by combining the different loops.

Room for imagination

I soon begin to discover rocks sculpted by nature, with extravagant shapes.

These mineral curiosities all have extravagant names: the Harlequin Head, the Sphinx, the Elephant, the Bear Head, the Snail. It doesn’t take long to get into the game. My masters have fun looking for animal shapes, faces… and work on their imagination. Grrr, no dog carved in these fantastic rocks, too bad!

Did you know?

During the first exploration of the area in 1884, Edouard-Alfred Martel, father of modern speleology, mapped and named all the rocks in the rocky chaos of Montpellier-le-Vieux, as well as many of the remarkable sites in the Gorges and Grands Causses.

Wow... What a view!

After the first part of the hike in the undergrowth, climb up the rocks to reach the Belvedere, one of the many viewpoints set up along the routes.

Truffles in the wind, breathtaking views over the Gorges de la Dourbie and the Plateau du Larzac. The scenery is grandiose!

Here, a wildcat crossing the sky at snout height. I didn’t see a single wingbeat, it’s just hovering.


for bipeds

You can discover the Cité de Pierres from above and feel the rocks on a via-ferrata, then breathe in the fresh air of the Grands Causses on zip lines, 1 of which is 200 metres long!

The breathtaking scenery of the Gorges du Tarn

Don’t forget to look up to observe the canyon. The game is to find the heritage observed during the hike….

Right bank, clinging to the cliffs, we see successively the troglodytic hamlets of Saint-Marcellin and Eglazines. It’s easy to spot Saint-Marcellin with its blue shutters…

The vultures twirl above the Gorges du Tarn forming large circles… it’s almost hypnotic!!

Left bank, this dark stone flow that stands out in the verdant landscape… what’s it all about?!

You have to imagine that a volcano was located at the site of the Cirque d’Eglazines. So it’s a flow of solidified lava known as basalt! At the foot of this flow is a magnificent sandy beach. Let’s not forget our garbage to preserve it…

The Capluc rock appears in the distance. It’s the peak of the Causse Méjean, at the crossroads of the Gorges du Tarn and the Gorges de la Jonte. A sublime panorama accessible from the village of Le Rozier. Some people like to “bruncher” up there!

The signpost that announces the arrival of the route is the broken bridge in the commune of Le Rozier. Impossible to miss! Historically, this bridge was swept away by a flood on the Tarn during a “Cevenol” episode. Nature knows how to make herself heard sometimes…

Are you interested?

On the way, numerous signs point out hiking trails: Le rocher de Francbouteille, le Causse Méjean, l’Ermitage Saint Pons. Let’s organize another outdoor outing with a hike! For my part, it’s already in my diary.

It takes 2h/2h30 for the canoe descent. No need to rush…. You have to appreciate time and take breaks: swimming, hydration, nap, selfie, jump, contemplation, snack (if there’s any food left in the canister?!)

12 kilometers in the legs and 12 kilometers in the arms: that’s worth a snack, isn’t it? An artisanal ice cream to enjoy by the water, for example.

Practical info

An activity to be enjoyed solo, as a duo, with friends or with your dog…. Allow 2h30 walk (on average) to reach Les Vignes. Canoeing is possible from the age of 5, but you must be able to swim and have no fear of water. That’s the rule! Even the most beautiful “unicorn” armbands worn by your toddlers won’t change a thing!

Continue the adventure