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Mende travel guide

Photo of Mende in Massif Central (Languedoc-Roussillon region)
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Visit Mende (Occitanie, France)

Mende is a town in the upper Lot Valley at the northern edge of the Parc National de Cevennes, in the Lozère department of Languedoc-Roussillon where it is overlooked by forested hills.

Exploring Mende

Start your visit in the streets around the cathedral and the Place de la Republique, in the historical centre of Mende, where the majority of the monuments and buildings of interest are found. The highlight of a visit to Mende is the town itself, with its fountains and public squares, the river frontage and the narrow streets to explore, and the medieval houses such as the Maison de Mandrin.

Mende cathedral

Mende cathedral dominates the town centre, and was originally built for Pope Urbain V who was born close to here - you can see his statue in front of the cathedral.

Cathedral facade in Mende

The original 14th century cathedral had the two belltowers added in the 16th century, and then the cathedral itself was largely destroyed and a replacement cathedral built (around 1600) that retained the belltowers. The rose window in the main facade was added shortly after, and the entrances substantially altered during the 19th century.

This sequence of substantial changes means the cathedral has several different styles and architectural influences. Overall it is an interesting design, if a little imbalanced to the eye since the belltower on the left is larger and more ornate than that on the right (the larger tower also once contained the largest bell in the world, until it was melted down to make cannons in 1580).

Inside the cathedral you can see a 12th century black wooden statue of the Virgin and also a series of Aubusson tapestries relate the story of the life of the Virgin.

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Other highlights

Two other notable highlights are the 14th century Penitents Tower, that once formed part of the defensive ramparts around the town (now mostly lost) and is now the belltower for the Chapel of Penitents, and the 18th century Town Hall, with its monumental stone staircase leading to the first floor where you can see some Aubusson tapestries (next to the cathedral).

Head towards the north of the old town to see the 13th century stone bridge of Notre-Dame from where you have attractive views along the Lot River and can stroll along the river banks.

The Museum Ignon Fabre has a good number of historical items discovered in the region, dating back as far as the prehistoric occupation of the region.

Mende tourist office propose a guided route through the town which passes these and other buildings of interest - ask at the tourist office or download the guide from here.

Prefecture in Mende

Close to Mende

The Hermitage of Saint-Privat, a pilgrimage destination, stands in a lovely wooded position on Mont Mimat overlooking Mende.

There are also many scenic highlights in the region, with the Parc National de Cevennes, Mont Lozere, and the Gorges du Tarn all within easy reach to the south and the Aubrac plateau to the north, each offering numerous scenic highlights and small villages and towns to explore (the journey through the gorges du Tarn is our personal favourite).

You can find more travel ideas in the Lozere guide and the Languedoc-Roussillon guide.

See also: 

Map of Mende and places nearby

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Visit near Mende with France This Way reviews

Cevennes National Park

Cevennes National Park

The varied landscapes of the Cevennes National Park are famous as the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Travels with a Donkey'!

Cevennes National Park guide
Marvejols

Marvejols

The quiet regional town of Marvejols has several interesting historic monuments to discover

Marvejols guide
Sainte-Enimie

Sainte-Enimie

Sainte-Enimie is the most extensive, and perhaps the most interesting, of the pretty villages along the Gorges du Tarn

Sainte-Enimie guide
Montbrun

Montbrun

The small but very pretty village of Montbrun is at the eastern end of the Gorges du Tarn

Montbrun guide
Castelbouc

Castelbouc

The tiny village of Castelbouc, in the Gorges du Tarn, is very lovely and in an exceptional riverside location

Castelbouc guide
Saint-Chely-du-Tarn

Saint-Chely-du-Tarn

Saint-Chely-du-Tarn is in an idyllic spot within the western part of the Gorges du Tarn

Saint-Chely-du-Tarn guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Lozere

Address: Mende, Languedoc-Roussillon, 48000, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 44.519, longitude 3.5013

Plan your visit to Mende, Lozere

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Marvejols: recommended detour (17 km)
  • Sainte-Enimie: most beautiful village (18 km)
  • Gorges du Tarn: grand site of france (19 km)
  • Mont Lozère: site of natural beauty (22 km)
  • La Canourgue: village d'etape (25 km)
  • Aumont-Aubrac: village d'etape (29 km)
  • Réserve de bisons d'Europe de Sainte-Eulalie: zoo or wildlife park (31 km)
  • Parc à loups du Gévaudan (wolves): zoo or wildlife park (32 km)
  • La Garde-Guerin: most beautiful village (32 km)
  • Chaos de Nimes-le-Vieux: site of natural beauty (35 km)
  • Aven Armand (grotte): site of natural beauty (35 km)
  • Cascade du Déroc: site of natural beauty (37 km)

Market days in Mende, France

Regular market(s) are held in Mende each Saturday all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Mende (Francais)

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