Protected areas

Protected natural areas

The valley of Gijou

The valley of Gijou spreads on 3091 ha, along the river  Gijou, that is to say 44km long from Lacaune to Vabre.

A valley, many forests surrounding, a little river where many fish live. Paths, hiking trails. A space to breathe, learn and share.

In Monts et Lacs du Haut-Languedoc, at the heart of the  Monts de Lacaune, the valley of Gijou is an exceptional place within the large natural environnement of the Tarn. Greeny meadows are associated to humid zones, forests and semi opened on steepy slopes. Among this diversity, the valley of Gijou keeps a wild note that makes a great part of its scenic value.

Though the valley is only at an altitude between 350 and 800 metres, it is a very incised valley. This gives it almost mountainous characteristics. Between Lacaze and Viane, due to its less-marked relief, the space is dedicated to agriculture. In the rest of the valley, however, there is a majority of rocky and sometimes steepy walls, that are woody or covered with heath and sometimes carved with natural underground cavities. This vegetation is linked to various type of soils : schistose sandstone, micaschistes, gneiss, limestone.


Among the species surveyed on the cliffs of the Gijou, we can notice rare plants such as  Saxifrage de l’Ecluse. It grows in the clefts of the rock. It is a protected species from Massif Central. Its period of bloom begins in May.
The« Bouisse » or the « Bouissas » are  geographic name qualifiers that means and signal the presence of boxwood.

LIVely environment

The mix of heath and rock is very favourable for reptiles that appreciate dry and hot rocky areas : the Couleuvre green and yellow (grass snake), the Coronelle lisse, the green  Lezard… There is also a small amount of loutre d’Europe ( European otter). Cavities, overhangs and flat grounds is favourable for birds that can hide their nest.  TheHibou Grand-Duc (one of the biggest owl in Europe) and the Faucon pèlerin (Pilgrim falcon) are typical birds of prey of these rock walls.

caves, tunnels and bats

Many species of bats have been surveyed in the valley of Gijou, such as the small and the big  Rhinolophe, the  Barbastelle, and the big Murin.
A 30km long  interpretative path from Lacaune through  Gijounet and  Viane is classified  Natura 2000. It presents the valley environment, the typical villages,  the species that live in natural inhabitations, and some cultural heritage linked to water…
Leaflet available.



The green track (voie verte) : Built along an ancient railway with a 3% slope. Outsanding sceneries, passages through tunnels and viaducs.  A 11km walk on foot or on bike but also with a strollers.

The mountain of Caroux – Espinouse

 A national wildlife reserve where you can observe Mouflons. La présence d’une population de Mouflon méditerranéen (introduit à partir de 1956) sur le massif de Caroux-Espinouse a permis la création de la Réserve Nationale de Chasse et de Faune Sauvage. L’accès est réservé pour préserver la tranquillité des animaux. Toutefois quelques sentiers sont ouverts au grand public.
A natural area of ecological, flora and fauna interest.