Some 300 million years ago,
a seething liquid magma of rock-lava surged down to a depth of some 12 kilometres beneath a vast mountain
range (the Hercynian range). Today the remnant of that furious geological activity is the Massif Central,
including, at its southern extremity, the Montagne Noire and the Sidobre of Upper Languedoc. Much eroded
over the centuries, these mountains retain from that distant epoch crystalline deposits, formed as the magma
cooled, composed essentially of three minerals: mica, quartz and feldspar.
The Sidobre today is a granite pile ten kilometres long and ten kilometres deep, whose surface, fissured and
pitted by erosion, conceals a deep mass of rock.
There has formed, over the centuries, in this timeless landscape, one of the largest deposits of granite in the whole of Europe.
Here the hills, forests, streams and waterfalls are just a thin covering for the great granite masses
that are the living evidence of the power of nature and of the mysterious process by which our
planet itself was formed.
Enigmatic monoliths stand silent sentinel and are the inspiration for many charming local legends.
The economy of this region has naturally revolved around the extraction of granite, its transformation,
commercialisation and transport, all of which various activities provide employment for some 2300 people
and for some 250 small businesses and have ensured for the Sidobre an international renown in the working
of the stone with which nature has so generously endowed the region.
This mountainous region often served as a refuge for dissidents
during the various wars of religion, making it the breeding-ground of a proud and independent people.
As early as 1403, Lacrouzette obtained its own charter esablishing the common land around the Peyro Clabado
as the cradle of its stoneworks. Their proud, industrious descendants have successfully combined the traditional
know-how with modern technology in a continuing tradition of fine granite-work for a multitude of uses:
funerary stone, urban development, architecture, decor, renovation.
Here too the many well-known rock-formations so curiously and variously sculpted by nature have
given rise to innumerable legends.
The rockface known as the "Peyre Clabado" is the emblem of the village of Lacrouzette. Its 780 tons
of rock balanced on a base of just one metre2, dominates the surrounding area. Legend has it
that if you throw a stone that manages to stay on the top, your wish will be granted. Take your bearings
from the summit and you find laid out below you a whole patchwork of different rock-formations and chasms:
the Roc de lOie, the Roc du Verdier, the Rocher de la Barque, the Trois Fromages, the Chaos de la Resse,
the Chaos de la Rouquette. Most surprising of all perhaps is the Rocher Tremblant (trembling rock) de Sept-Faux.
Not to be missed either are the magnificent formations known as the Fusarié and the Chapeau du Curé.
This distinctive little village has a natural open-air environment with well signposted
footpaths criss-crossing the various areas of interest from a point of view of ecology
and flora and fauna. This renders it ideal for walks or cycle-rides. The commune is also
traversed by the pilgrim-route to St Jacques de Compostelle (GR653).
Visiting the quarter around the fort, one should look out for the church with its windows
and paintings, the Échauguette and the old entry-gate to the town.
Between Vabre and Brassac, on the fringe of the Sidobre, Ferrières
has an important place in the history of Protestantism in the region.
Its twelfth-century chateau was rebuilt by Guillaime Guillot, seigneur
de Ferrières and a prominent Huguenot, much implicated in the Wars of Religion.
The many documents preserved in the Musée du Protestantisme en
Haut-Languedoc, attest to the importance of the fighting that took place
The house (Maison du Luthier) is open June-August along with a library
containing several thousand works that can be consulted.
Nestling peacefully in a verdant valley at the foot of Mont Paradis, Burlats
is a friendly village of picturesque narrow alleyways leading out into charming countryside.
Meandering through the village is the river Agoût, a favourite both with fishermen and with
adepts of the canoe and the kayak. There are also many charming forest walks along well-maintained
paths. The area is of considerable historical interest and has many listed sites, transporting
the imaginative visitor back to a medieval world of courtly love.
Place du 8 Mai,
Telephone: 05.63.35.07.83. Fax : 05.63.51.12.68 www.burlats.com
Le Bez, a large commune, is close not only to the town of Castres but also to the
heart of the Sidobre, to the lakes of Saint-Peyres and to that of the Raviège. To
the north lies the gorge of the Agoût, the northernmost point of the whole Sidobre
plateau; to the south, the plateau of Anglès rises to a height of 800 metres.
The countryside hereabouts is verdant woodland, grazed by sheep and cattle with a large
area of deciduous forest (beech, chestnut, oak..) an ideal spot for walkers,
ramblers and mushroom-pickers, along newly signposted footpaths.
SALVY DE LA BALME
Saint-Salvy des Rochers was the ancient name of this village set amongst
countryside rich in legend. The "Chaos de la Balme" with
its "grotte du Loup" and its curiously-shaped rocks is the stuff of dreams.
Vialavert 81260 LE BEZ
Telephone: 05 63 74 63 38 - Fax 05 63 73 04 57