The medieval village La Garde-Guerin is located along the Chassezac River in Lozere (Occitanie).

Chassezac Canyon, situated near the medieval village of La Garde-Guerin, is a captivating natural wonder in the heart of the Cevennes National Park.

Le canyon du Chassezac à La Garde Guérin

Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin

Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin

The Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin 1The Chassezac is a French river that flows through the departments of Lozere, Gard, and Ardeche. It spans 84.6 kilometers. Its source lies in the Lozere department, approximately 20 kilometers east of Mende, on the western slope of Moure de la Gardille (1,503 meters) in the Margeride mountains, within the northern part of the municipality of Saint-Frezal-d’Albuges. Interestingly, its source is close to that of the Allier River, which feeds into the Atlantic side and originates from the eastern slope of Moure de la Gardille.

The Chassezac initially flows southward, meandering in a wide loop around the village of Saint-Frezal-d’Albuges. It serves as the southern boundary of this village, running alongside Belvezet for approximately 2.6 kilometers, maintaining a general southeast direction until its confluence. Downstream, it passes through the municipalities of Chasserades, Prevencheres, and Puylaurent. The Mirandol railway viaduct stands just upstream from Chasserades. Further along, the river encounters the Puylaurent hydroelectric dam, shared between the municipalities of Prevencheres and La Bastide-Puylaurent. The reservoir has two branches: one fed by the Chassezac from the northwest and the other by the Malaval stream from the south, entirely within the bounds of Prevencheres.

The Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin 2The Chassezac River, a major tributary of the Ardeche, joins its waters on the right bank, making it a sub-affluent of the Rhône. Its gorges offer spectacular landscapes and are classified as part of UNESCO’s natural heritage.

The nature of the Chassezac is strikingly beautiful, with diverse landscapes that evolve along its course. Here’s an overview of its flora and environment:

The banks of the Chassezac are lined with evergreen oak, pine, chestnut, and boxwood forests. Junipers, maples, birches, and ash trees are also found in the surrounding wooded areas.

The Chassezac gorges feature impressive rock formations sculpted by erosion. Limestone cliffs harbor specific flora, including ferns, wild orchids, martagon lilies, and broom. This mountain river boasts crystal-clear waters, home to trout, crayfish, and leeches. Its banks are often bordered by reeds, willows, and rushes.

The Chassezac, a picturesque river winding through the departments of Lozere, Gard, and Ardeche, harbors a variety of species in its wetlands. Among them are birds such as the swift, grey heron, and dipper. Dragonflies and butterflies flutter above the calm waters. As you descend toward the Ardeche, the climate takes on a more Mediterranean character, with lavender, thyme, and rosemary dotting the landscape.

The Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin 3In summary, the Chassezac is a rich and diverse ecosystem, offering a unique experience for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

The Chassezac flows through deep granitic gorges (reaching 400 meters) beneath the medieval village of La Garde-Guerin, within the Cevennes National Park, approximately 35 kilometers east of Mende and 40 kilometers WSW of Aubenas. The setting is wild and pristine, with no visible villages or roads, making it worthy of a visit. Due to its geology, providing potable water to this site has always been challenging: the shallow layer of Triassic sandstone does not allow sufficient water storage and protection against the underlying granite. Within the walls of La Garde-Guerin, wells were often contaminated during summer. During such times or sieges, the castle’s cistern, carved deep into the rock, served as a vital water source. In the Middle Ages, rainwater was a precious resource, subject to rights acquired by lords through payment.

Away from the village, the fountains played a crucial role due to their flow and water quality until the resolution of the potable water supply in 1938.


Here unfolds a beautiful tale along the Chassezac, this picturesque river meandering through the departments of Lozere, Gard, and Ardeche.The Chassezac Canyon near La Garde-Guerin 4

Once upon a time, in the foothills of the Cevennes, there was a small village nestled along the banks of the Chassezac. The crystal-clear waters of the river danced among the rocks, creating eddies and whirlpools. The villagers lived in harmony with nature, fishing for fish, tending their gardens, and sharing stories around the campfire.

One day, a young fisherman named Lucien decided to embark on an adventure. He had heard of a hidden treasure somewhere along the Chassezac—a secret passed down through generations. Armed with his fishing rod and an old notebook, Lucien set out on his quest. He followed the river, exploring every nook, scrutinizing the banks and caves. Along the way, he encountered peculiar characters: a hermit living in a wooden cabin, an old woman weaving fishing nets, and even a solitary wolf guarding a secret.

As Lucien’s adventures unfolded, he discovered hidden clues in the wild landscapes. Inscriptions carved into rocks, riddles concealed in bird songs. The further he went, the more connected he felt to the river, as if he were an integral part of this mystical place. One evening, as the sun set behind the mountains, Lucien reached a special spot: the Puylaurent dam. This imposing concrete hydroelectric dam held back the waters of the Chassezac. Lucien wondered if the treasure lay there, behind the dam’s gates. He scaled the dam’s walls, his heart pounding. And there, in a small cavity, he found a wooden chest. Inside were gold coins, sparkling jewels, and a yellowed parchment. The parchment revealed the secret of the Chassezac: a lost love, a broken promise, and a vow of redemption. Lucien decided not to keep the treasure for himself. He shared it with the villagers, using the money to build a school and a library.

And each year, during the full moon, the villagers gathered by the banks of the Chassezac to celebrate Lucien’s story and the mystery of the hidden treasure. Thus, the Chassezac continued to flow, carrying with it the memories and legends of those who had explored its depths. And as Lucien sat by the river’s edge, gazing at the stars, he wondered if other adventurers would one day uncover the secret he had shared.


L'Etoile Guest-House between Cevennes, Ardeche and Lozere in the South of France

Old romantic Hotel, L'Etoile Guest-House is a mountain retreat in the South of France. With a beautiful park along the Allier River, L'Etoile Guesthouse is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Many hiking trails like GR®7, GR®70 Stevenson trail, GR®72, GR®700 Regordane way, Cevenol, GR®470 Allier river, Margeride. Many hiking loops. The right place to relax.