One of the many nice things about living near the Mediterranean is that even when the temperatures take a nosedive it’s usually still sunny. This is also a time when you have the roads to yourself down here, especially when it goes below 10C (I’ve seen local riders wearing balaclavas when I’m out in a short-sleeve jersey). So, with my new wool socks and undershirt (and the rest of my kit), I headed up to the Cévennes for a little ride.
Actually, the ride was an afterthought; what I really went up to the village of Mialet for was to visit the Musée du Désert.
This little gem is a great introduction to an important part of the history in these parts – that of the Huguenots (French Protestants). France, you may already know, was not always the bastion of égalité that it pretends to be today. In the days of all those kings, if you had a religion other than Catholicism, you were going to have some difficulties.
During the reign of Louis XIV all religions other than Catholicism were banned, leading to 100 years of what became to be known as the ‘desert’; a time of clandestine religious services and a famous armed uprising by a guerrilla group from the Cévennes, called the Camisards.
The museum is housed in the home of the most famous leader of the Camisards – Roland (Pierre Laporte). The house and serene setting themselves are worth the price of admission.
And then I went for that bike ride.