From garrigue to Cévennes shale landscapes, departing from Les Vans

Contrasting landscapes between the southern scrubland and the deep gullies in the clay-limestone marl.
Fossil footprints, botanical path, abrupt change of vegetation between limestone strata and Cevennes shale, and return by a path overlooking the Chassezac river.
Very pretty and picturesque village of Naves.

That's what's on the menu of this spectacular hike which takes you around the west of Les Vans.

Technical sheet No. 31627142

A Les Vans walk posted on 14/03/23 by Wanderer du Gard. Last update : 14/03/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h00[?]
Distance Distance : 9.93 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 415 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 407 m
Highest point Highest point : 469 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 180 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Massif central
Location Location : Les Vans (07140)
Starting point Starting point : N 44.405408° / E 4.128487°
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From garrigue to Cévennes shale landscapes, departing from Les Vans From garrigue to Cévennes shale landscapes, departing from Les Vans From garrigue to Cévennes shale landscapes, departing from Les Vans From garrigue to Cévennes shale landscapes, departing from Les Vans


Start : Maison de Santé, Les Vans (07140)

(D/A) From the health centre (Maison de Santé) car park, go to the main square, ignore the small street on the right going to Naves (Yellow-Red markers), stay on the pavement and go up the Rue du Temple. At the church, take the road to Brahic (D216), on the right as far as the bend.

(1) Chemin de la Galine : after some houses, the path climbs up in Combe Escure to reach a small crossroad with a nice view over Les Vans.

(2) Cross the crossroads with the D216 and take the Chemin de Haut Gras opposite. At a fork in the road, turn left (dead end on the right), continue to reach a new crossroads.

(3) Between a house and an electric post, go down a few metres between the rocks and take the path on the left.
On the descent, be careful not to slip in wet weather, very beautiful landscape of scrubland in the Bourdaric valley with its vineyards and olive trees and higher up, the village of Naves.

(4) At the bottom of the descent and the passage on the bridge over the Bourdaric, take the path which goes up on the left.
You join a yellow-red marked path. Turn left into the coble-stoned street.
Admire a superb vaulted fountain with very clear water, follow this street to a first small panel with walkers drawn in Yellow heading towards Les Vans.(These guide visitors coming down from Naves.)
Turn right when you reach a terrace, then left and go around a house. You then go up to the village by stairs, the small panels and the Yellow-Red markers guide you.

(5) Pass through the village and at the bottom take, on your left, the botanical path indicated by a signpost following the Yellow-Green markers.
After about 80 metres, take the path on your left (ignore a half-faded marker encouraging you to climb a small scree).
The path climbs through an impressive landscape of erosion in the marl and then, almost abruptly, the box trees fade away to make way for chestnut trees indicating the presence of a tectonic fault.
Once arrived, you can see the Alauzas farm (chestnuts, goats), follow the indicated route of the botanical path

(6) Don't be tempted by a track that goes off to the left; the itinerary starts in a small trench lined with stones.
The path is very well marked (yellow-green) and quickly passes through limestone strata to descend into the marl; the path is narrow and steep, on the sloping side of the Serre du Cocu, again with an impressive landscape. Pass the small reservoir to reach a pass where you leave the botanical path.

(7) Take on the left the track arriving in a hairpin bend and go down to the junction with the Route de Villefort D901 then the Route de Gravières D113. Take care crossing these 2 roads.
Continue a little further to the right on a small tarmac road, Chemin du Pradal, in a straight line. At a T-junction, turn left onto the tarmaced Chemin des Armas Haut. Pass by Les Armas Haut and turn left onto the "Chemin de la Jeanne" for about 200m.

(8) Turn right, take a gravel path and before the house in front, in a clearing, turn left on a path lined with low walls. Go through the gate on the left and go down into La Grande Muraille (nothing nasty). At the bottom, turn right following the GR® (White-Red markers), enjoy the nice views of the river Chassezac (dam, Chambonas bridge)

(9) You arrive in a residential area. At the Chemin des Goussets, go straight on leaving the GR®. Follow the large signs for Le Carmel. Take the lane along Le Carmel on the left, go up to the right on the Grand Place to arrive at the car park(D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 181 m - Maison de Santé, Les Vans
1 : km 0.56 - alt. 194 m - La galine-Combe Escure
2 : km 1.18 - alt. 280 m - Crossroads with the D216
3 : km 1.88 - alt. 299 m - Rim of the plateau Gras de Naves
4 : km 2.74 - alt. 216 m - Turn left
5 : km 3.04 - alt. 278 m - Naves
6 : km 4.51 - alt. 468 m - Les Alauzas
7 : km 5.63 - alt. 303 m - Hairpin bend
8 : km 7.48 - alt. 268 m - Turn right, views over the Chassezac gorge - Chassezac (rivière)
9 : km 8.7 - alt. 253 m - Outskirts of Les Vans
D/A : km 9.93 - alt. 181 m - Maison de Santé, Les Vans

Useful Information

Start : Maison de Santé, Les Vans (07140)

Note : Map produced by combining the sheet 21 published by the Les Vans tourism office and a part of the botanical path of Naves.
Avoid Saturday mornings: Market on the Ollier square, car parks are saturated in the village center.
Park in the Place de la Poste and the Maison de Santé (after crossing the main square coming from Aubenas or Alès). Many visitors in Naves during the tourist season.

Facilities : In Naves, drinking water and toilets in the Place de l'Église

Terrain : Hiking shoes, sticks recommended, headgear, drinks.
2 ascents: one on a damaged path (Combe Escure) and the other in limestone strata (Naves-Alauzas), sometimes steep paths; rocky slabs on the slopes that can be tricky or even dangerous in wet weather (vertical rock strata)

⚠️Please do not pick up fossils (studies in progress).
Chestnuts are part of the income of the owners or farmers: it is forbidden by law (art.549 Civil Code) to collect them even on public roads.

Walk translated by Wanderer du Gard originally from the French author Michel_M.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

(4) Here is a shortcut: if you turn right, either because you are tired or because of bad weather, you will reach Les Vans at the health center car park.
(5) Take the time to bowse the village with its alleys, its craftsmen's shops. Note that the stones of the houses are of two rocks: white-limestone and brown-gneiss, indication of the proximity of a geological change.

Environmental sources :
Guide Géologique de l'Ardèche. Editions brgm; Maryse Aymes and Jean-Pierre Esteban (association Clapas)


Naves :
- Endangered (from the book quoted above),
... the southern part of the village and more particularly the church rests on limestone banks dislocating according to the creep of the underlying marls...
- and summarizing it,
Numerous landslides have destroyed entire parts of Naves, including the one in 1986 which stopped a few metres from the church. In order to delay the destruction of the church by creep, the association for the preservation of Naves had the foundations consolidated by concrete underpinning.
The keep (private property) suffered from these landslides.

Between Naves and Alauzas, a buried tectonic fault marks the border between the limestone and the Cevennes shale.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.