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David-Guenot: Track 4691 in area near France, Occitanie ()
Montagne de Liausson via Cirque de Mourèze
Length: 12.6km, Creator time taken: 5h 3m, Ascent: 654m,
Descent: 641m

Places: Start at Lon 3.36106, Lat 43.6172, end at Start
Logged as completed by 1

French bank holidays in May and June often give an opportunity to explore new places. With a few hours for myself to spare (my partner could unfortunately not follow me on this kind of outing, although she'd love to) I decided to take in three of my Massif Central +100m prominence summit list which should hopefully be available soon.
This route starts from the main car park (€3 yearly fee) in the village of Mourèze (Hérault, France). The first 30 minutes took me across the fantastic lunar maze of rocks, boulders and pinnacles that is the Cirque de Mourèze, which is easily accessed from the village.
The unreal scenery of the Cirque de Mourèze with the very recognisable Pic de Vissou (480m) in the distance. Part of the village is also visible to the right.

The ascent of la Montagne de Liausson starts gently, but the last part is pretty steep and I'd say the trail could be slippery in wet conditions. The views from the ridge -particularly to the N over the Lac du Salagou and the mountains beyond- are absolutely amazing and worth the effort. The patchwork of colours is particularly amazing: red earth, blue water and sky, light green vineyards and dark green forests.
The beautiful Lac du Salagou as seen from the E Top.
It's definitely worth lingering along the ridge to enjoy the different points of view, before getting to the main top (535m) which stands to the W end of the ridge. The plentiful of wild flowers and butterflies meant loads of stops for more photos.
From the main top it was a steep descent to the Col de Portes. The marked trail veers left here and takes you back to the village; instead, I headed straight on an unmarked trail to the Sommet de Lousses (511m). The ascent is rather gentle and straightforward. A large cairn marks the crossing with the narrow trail that leads to the top of the ridge, which is worth a bit of exploration. The highpoint is a small rocky outcrop which requires some light scrambling and offers a 360° vista, including another fantastic viewpoint over the lake.
More views over the Lac du Salagou from the Sommet de Lousses.

It was now getting pretty hot yet the incredible variety of flowers -including several species of wild orchids- I met along the trail that goes down into the Combe de Lousses caught my attention and meant more stops for photos.

Red helleborine (Cephalanthera rubra), one of the numerous species of wild orchids that can be admired along the trail between the last two tops.

The last summit of the day was now in view but the route across the col is not very obvious. After reaching a gravel track I followed it for a hundred metres or so and picked a trail that goes down to the right. It soon reaches some ruins before petering out, but after another 100m I reached the end of another gravel track and soon found (to the right) the elusive trail that zigzags across the forestry to the top of Mont Mars, aka. Mont Sainte-Scholastique (502m). The climb is not very long but steep, with only one viewpoint along the way. The highpoint lies on the edge of a drop and provides another nice yet rather restricted viewpoint. A few tens of metres away lies the remains of an old chapel which apparently dates back to the end of the 10th century, and just nearby is another, wider viewpoint.

The ruined Chapelle Sainte-Scholastique on top of Mont Mars.

The final part of the final descent requires some care in terms of navigation as the trail keeps zigzagging and the few crossings have no signposts. At one point you reach a large gravel track and you're soon back to the village, which is well worth a visit too. A superb hike, not to be missed if you're in the area !!
Note that apart from a ca. 100m stretch at the col between the last two tops and a shortcut I took while leaving the last top, this route only consists of marked or relatively well-maintained trails/tracks. The Cirque de Mourèze offers lots of possibilities in terms of exploration and has a whole network of faint trails. This could be done with younger children (under supervision), yet the whole route, be it the sole ascent of la Montagne de Liausson would obviously be too demanding for little legs.

Uploaded on: Sat, 25 Jun 2022 (10:26:49)
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NOTE: ALL information such as Ascent, Length and Creator time taken etc should be regarded as approximate. The creator's comments are opinions and may not be accurate or still correct.
Your time to complete will depend on your speed plus break time and your mode of transport. For walkers: Naismith's rule, an approximate though often inaccurate estimate, suggests a time of 3h 37m + time stopped for breaks
NOTE: It is up to you to ensure that your route is appropriate for you and your party to follow bearing in mind all factors such as safety, weather conditions, experience and access permission.

* Note: A GPS Height in the elevation profile is sourced from the device that recorded the track. An "SRTM" height is derived from a model of elevations for parts of the earth. More detail

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Some mapping:
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British summit data courtesy:
Database of British & Irish Hills
(Creative Commons Licence), a Hill-walking Website for the island of Ireland. 2100 Summiteers, 1400 Contributors, Monthly Newsletter since 2007