Discovering the capital of Lozère

Discover Mende, the capital of Lozère

Mende, with its 12,000 inhabitants, is the most important city in Lozère. Located in the upper Lot river Valley, it therefore enjoys a more favourable climate than the Gévaudan highlands, with sunshine similar to that of Toulouse with around 2069 hours of sunshine per year. The city is nestled between different plateaus which form natural barriers. Of these midmountain plateaus, the Mont Mimat is the most imposing.

Despite its status, the capital of Lozère has kept the simple and discreet charm of a medieval city built around its Gothic cathedral Notre-Dame-et-Saint Privat. The foundation of Mende dates from the Middle Ages, and it is only mentioned for the first time at the end of the 6th century by Grégoire de Tours in his "Histoire des Francs". This text speaks of the martyrdom of Saint Privat, the first bishop of Gabales, who is said to be at the origin of a pilgrimage to the hermitage sheltered by Mont Mimat where he had retired. The mount is nowadays overlooked by the cross of Saint Privat. At its foot is located the La Vabre area, where over the twentieth century urbanization and the first vestiges of housing in the city began.

The History of Mende

The city of Mende was built on the banks of the Lot river, but the Lot is not the only presence of water in the city. Many springs have often been channelled and supply the underground water network of the city visible on the surface through the numerous fountains, as well as an old wash house: Le lavoir des Calquières, classified as a Historic Monument. In 1161, Mende was under the suzerainty of the king of France, it was from this time that the city walls were built. In the 14th century, Pope Urban V started the Cathedral works, which ended in 1467. Two generations later, the ramparts were removed because the houses needed "better air circulation". Nowadays, a boulevard has replaced the ramparts, and the city centre is mainly occupied by shops and craftsmen. The 20th century was marked by the start of a certain economic decline. The gradual end of the wool industry, as well as the first and second world wars, slowly depopulated the city, which in recent years has started to gain new inhabitants.

Mende's activities

You will be able to appreciate the beauty of its historic centre, the splendour of its Gothic cathedral, but also Mende’s relaxed lifestyle with numerous outdoor activities as well as sporting and cultural events.

Mende was elected the most sportive city in France. Nearby, the Causse de Mende is a huge playground for many activities: playground, tree climbing, via ferrata ... Each year the last weekend of May takes place the Trèfle Lozérien: a 3 days’ motorcycle race in form of a clover departing from Mende and throughout Lozère. It is a renowned Enduro classic in France. In addition, the Marvejols-Mende half marathon takes place around the last weekend in July, over a distance greater than the usual half marathon (22,400 km).