Mar 28, 2014
The Sidobre is a mountainous area located in the south of the Massif central. It is a 15.3 km long, 6.6 km wide plateau made of granite and covered with forests. Originally composed of one single piece of rock, it cracked and weathered over time which accounts for the remarkable natural forms that can been seen in various parts of the park.
We drove to the Maison de Sidobre and picked up a plan of the park. We had some lunch first at Le Bon Acceuil in Lacrouzette. It must rate as the worst meal we have had in France. We didn't have much time to decide what we wanted since it just started arriving. First we had Russian salad, followed by a croque monsieur, then some sort of ragout, followed by cheese and dessert. There was nothing French about this meal and is best forgotten.
We left the restaurant and followed a road around the park and saw the Payro Clabado, Rocher Tremblant des Sept Faux, Le Roc de L'Oie, Le Lac du Merle and the Riviere de Rochers all quite spectacular formations. The park is close to the Valley of the River Agout which flows through Castres where there are houses built on the side of the river much the same as buildings in Venice. We were able to find most of the rock formations without too much difficulty with the exception of the Rocher Tremblant. This formation was in the garden of cafe and apparently it was possible to ask the proprietor to cause the rock to 'tremble'. There are in fact two rocks, one sitting on top of another and the bottom of the top rock was convex so there is only a small area of rock that is in touch with the top of the bottom rock (I hope that's clear!). So by pushing the top rock it is supposed to 'tremble'. Unfortunately the cafe was closed so whilst we were able to look around the rock we were not able to observe any trembling. The top rock is estimated to be 900 tonnes so one wouldn't want it to tremble too much.
There is a serious aspect to the Sidobre other than tourism. It is an important zone of quarrying, representing half of the granite production in France, with about 1,200 employees and 100 companies. The number of quarries has been constantly decreasing since the 1950s, reaching barely fifteen nowadays, though the factories have grown bigger. Its granite is used for many purposes including pavements, airport runways and graveyard tombstones since the consistency and colour is exceedingly sombre.