Mende is the capital of the least populated department in all of France, the Lozère. A quaint city in the green and cool Lot Valley, it is dominated by its awesome and inspiring 14th-century Gothic cathedral. You could hardly find a more ideal center for outdoor activities, be they horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, speleology or kayaking. Mende is at the doorstep of the Cevennes National Forest, marked by dramatic mountaintops with luscious rivers winding through the foothills. It is close to the breathtaking Gorges du Tarn, a massive 25-mile canyon. Nearby, Bagnols-les-Bains is a wonderful thermal spa town, featuring a casino and its own selection of great outdoor activities.
Traveling around Mende and the surrounding area, one gets the sense of escaping into the true wilderness. There are splendid examples of nature at its finest at almost every turn. What is wonderful about using Mende as a base for exploring this region is that it is a tiny oasis of civilization in the wilds. Although this city is no metropolis, it features all the basic necessities: pharmacies, bakeries, fine dining, shopping and a nice selection of hotels.
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