The mountainous massif of Montagne Noire is located within the Natural Park of the Haut-Languedoc region (Haute-Languedoc), southwest of the Massif Central, in France . With an age of 360 to 300 million years, this mountain range has two well differentiated slopes:
northern – predominantly wooded area, characterized by the presence of pines, firs and oaks. This density of vegetation is what gives the name of Noir (black) to the massif.
southern – more arid and with a typically Mediterranean flora (olive trees, chestnut trees), it contrasts with the previous one due to its deep ravines, where most of the waters of the massif end.
Without a doubt, the massif is an exceptional place where nature manifests itself in its most diverse and whimsical forms. Lakes, streams, canyons and forests make up the elements of an ideal environment to enjoy with the five senses.
Places to discover
Mazamet – Charming town located at the foot of the massif, in the Tarn department. It was founded by the Visigoths as Hautpoul in 413 and built as a fortress on a peak, under which the surrounding valleys were dominated. Centuries later, the settlement of Simon de Montfort , the main protagonist in the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in Hautpoul (year 1212) caused the displacement of its inhabitants towards the valley to build the new Mazamet.
Today, the medieval fortress of Hautpoul constitutes the legacy of a history marked by bloody battles of religion. Its walls house artisans and workshops to preserve the history and heritage of the place.
At the foot of this medieval village, the Maison du Bois offers an exhibition of the beautiful art of wood , surrounded by a spectacular Botanical Garden with more than 54 different species.
To travel back to the 19th century, the House of Memories recreates the scene of the wedding of its owners in a period room. In addition, you can discover the history and the Cathar faith, in an exhibition located on the first floor of the house.
To enjoy leisure and sports in a natural environment, the Lake of the Mountains , has the most varied offer of activities : hiking trails , fitness trail around the lake (2.7 km), cycling trails, picnic areas with barbecue, children’s play area, supervised swimming in the lake or mini-golf .
Clermont l’Hérault – Capital of the table grape, this town also has the Gothic church of Saint Paul , the feudal castle and Lake Salagou . In its vicinity you can also discover the spectacular Mourèze cirque, where millenary erosion has sculpted the rock, giving rise to strange ruin-like reliefs .
Les Matelles – Picturesque medieval town surrounded by walls and with a museum on Prehistory .
Montolieu – Famous town of Montaigne Noire where booksellers and bookbinder have set up their workshops. To visit the Museum of graphic arts and techniques .
Saint Guilhem le Désert – Medieval town founded by Guilhem, Duke of Aquitaine. Of its Abbey of Gellone , built in 804 , only the church, the portal and the bell tower from the 15th century remain. Romanesque interior, cloister and lapidary museum where the remains of Saint-Guilhem rest. In its surroundings are the Gorges de l’Hérault , with the Pont du Diable (11th century), the Gothic bridge at Saint Etienne d’Issensac and the Grotto of Clamouse.
Lamalou les Bains – Thermal resort at the foot of Mont Caroux and l’Espinouse. It has a small tourist train that goes from Bédarieux to Mons-la-Trivalle, passing through Lamalou les Bains and the Gorges d’Héric .
Viols le Fort – Medieval town with a 13th century castle. Nearby is the prehistoric town of Cambous , with a permanent exhibition on prehistory.