Notre Dame Bridge at Mende - Lot ValleyNotre Dame Bridge at Mende - Lot Valley
©Notre Dame Bridge at Mende - Lot Valley|Fred Julien
DiscoverMendeThe capital of Lozère


Mende, with its 12,000 inhabitants, is the largest town in Lozère. Situated in the upper Lot Valley, it enjoys a more favorable climate than the Gévaudan highlands, with around 2069 hours of sunshine a year. The town is nestled between various causses that form natural barriers. Of these causses, Mont Mimat, which dominates the town, is the most imposing. Discover the town’s historic center, with its rich and ancient heritage, including the Cathédrale Saint-Privat.


A town of medieval origins

Despite its status, the Lozère capital has retained the simple, unassuming charm of a medieval town built around its Gothic cathedral (Notre-Dame and Saint Privat). The foundation of Mende dates back to the Middle Ages, and is first mentioned at the end of the 6th century by Gregory of Tours in his “History of the Franks”. The text refers to the martyrdom of Saint Privat, the first bishop of the Gabales, who is said to have made a pilgrimage to the hermitage sheltered by Mont Mimat, where he retreated. Today, the mountain is overlooked by the cross of Saint Privat. At its foot lies the Vabre area, where urbanization began in the 20th century, and where the first remains of the town’s dwellings can be found. As well as being the prefecture of Lozère, Mende is also located in the heart of the Lot Valley.


The town of Mende

In 1161, Mende came under the suzerainty of the King of France, and it was at this time that the city walls were built. In the 14th century, Pope Urban V commissioned work on the cathedral, which was completed in 1467. Two generations later, the city walls were removed, as the inhabitants wanted “better air circulation”. Today, a boulevard has replaced the ramparts, and the town center is mainly occupied by stores and craftsmen. The 20th century saw the beginning of a certain economic decline. The gradual end of the wool industry, as well as the First and Second World Wars, gradually depopulated the town… Today, Mende is a dynamic town, which has been gaining new inhabitants over the past few years.


A pleasant, sporty town

As you stroll through the historic town center, you’ll appreciate the beauty of its narrow streets, the splendor of its Gothic cathedral, but also Mende’s gentle way of life, which offers a multitude of outdoor activities as well as sporting and cultural events.

Mende was voted the most sporty town in France. Nearby, the Causse de Mende is Mende’s playground, offering a wide range of activities: playgrounds, accrobranches, via ferrata… Every year, the Trèfle Lozérien motorcycle race takes place over 3 days, starting in Mende and taking in the whole of Lozère. It’s one of France’s best-known enduro classics. It takes place on the last weekend in May. Or the Marvejols-Mende half-marathon, which takes place over a longer distance than the usual half-marathon (22.400 km). This annual sporting challenge takes place around the last weekend in July.

Mende is criss-crossed by the Chemin Urbain V (GR670), the route taken by the Lozère-born Guillaume de Grimoard, who was appointed pope in 1362, linking Nasbinals in Aubrac to the city of Avignon.

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