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Stage town for the sixth time Prefecture of Lozère (48)
Population:
13,100 (Mendois and Mendoises) 16,600 in the 7 communes of the Communauté de communes Cœur de Lozère, 77,000 in Lozère, 5,986,000 in the Occitanie region.
Personalities: Urban V (Pope), Thierry Jean-Pierre (magistrate), Claude Érignac (former prefect), Christophe Laurent (cyclist), Blandine L'Hirondel (2019 world trail champion, 2020 French mountain running champion)
Specialities: herb sausages, croquants de Mende, aligot, cheese (Pélardon), honey
Sport: Mende Volley Lozère (Men's B League). Events: Trèfle lozérien (motorbike enduro), Marvejols-Mende half-marathon, Tour cycliste du Gévaudan, Terre de Lozère rally.
Festivals: 48 de cœur concert (March, solidarity concerts), Fête des peuples (April, gathering of humanitarian associations), Festival des randonnées (May), Winer Fair (June), 48e de rue (July, street art), Fêtes de Mende (August), Mende photo festival (September), Fête de l'abeille et de la nature (October), Book fair (November).
Signature: Mende, heart of Lozère
Labels: Mende et Lot en Gévaudan land of art and history, gateway town to the Causses and Cévennes (listed as a UNESCO world heritage site), APIcité label (bee preservation), Terre de cyclisme label, twice (1988, 1998) voted the most sporty town in France by L'Équipe, opening of the Gévaudan museum in autumn 2022
Websites: www.mende.fr / https://www.facebook.com/Mendevivezlessentiel / https://twitter.com/Mende48 / https://www.mende-coeur-lozere.fr/ / www.coeurdelozere.fr / www.lozere.fr / https://www.facebook.com/DptLozere/ / https://twitter.com/DptLozere48 / www.laregion.fr / https://www.facebook.com/LaRegionOccitaniePyreneesMediterranee/ / https://twitter.com/Occitanie

© Ville de Mende
© Ville de Mende
© Ville de Mende

MENDE, A STORY

The "Non Pareille” (Like no other)

At the beginning of the 16th century, François de la Rovère, bishop of Mende, wanted to give the cathedral an impressive bell tower. In October 1516, 180 mules brought 600 quintals of metal from Lyon. This metal was to be used to make three bells, including the famous "Non Pareille". The bell was melted down on the spot. In 1517, it was hoisted with the help of a powerful crane into the large bell tower and named François in honour of François de La Rovère. The population preferred to call it "Non Pareille" (Like no other) because of its exceptional size. The bell was the biggest, the heaviest and also the loudest. Its dimensions were impressive: 3.25 m in diameter, 2.75 m high and 33 cm thick. Its weight was said to be 25 tons. The "Non Pareille" fascinated as much as it frightened. Rumour had it that people with weak hearts took refuge in the cellars when it rang and that mothers kept their children away for fear of burst eardrums. The clapper, which can still be found inside the cathedral on the reverse side of the west façade, weighed 470 kg and was 2.2 m high. It was also the object of popular beliefs: its contact was said to make women fertile. A victim of the Wars of Religion, the "Non Pareille" rang for the last time at the midnight mass in 1579. It was destroyed shortly afterwards by Huguenot captain Mathieu Merle.

© Ville de Mende

MENDE AND CYCLING

Laurent Jalabert was the first to win at the top of the côte de la Croix Neuve in 1995. Ten years later, the peloton made its return to the Gévaudan, led by an inspired escapee, Marcos Serrano. Then, in 2010, Joaquim Rodriguez, took off in turn in view of the aerodrome that served as a setting for the final scene of Gérard Oury's film Don't Look Now... We're Being Shot At. He won ahead of compatriot Alberto Contador, who had already triumphed on this climb twice in Paris-Nice (2007 and 2010). In 2015, the French pair of Thibaut Pinot-Romain Bardet, too busy watching each other, were countered and outwitted in the last kilometre by the Britain’s Stephen Cummings. In 2018, the victory went to Spaniard Omar Fraile, who had to part with his breakaway companions Julian Alaphilippe and Jasper Stuyven in the final kilometer to win ahead of them.
Christophe Laurent, who took part in the Tour in 2004 and 2006, was born and still lives in Mende. The town is also the home of the Tour du Gévaudan.

18 July 2015 102nd Tour de France Stage 14 : Rodez - Mende 1st : CUMMINGS Stephen (GBR) MTN - Qhubeka Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA © Pressesports/Yuzuru Sunada
Laurent Jalabert lors de l'étape Saint Etienne - Mende du Tour de France 1995 © Pressesports/Boutroux

SIGHTS

Gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame and Saint Privat in Mende
Construction: 1368
History: built on the initiative of Pope Urban V, pope in Avignon and originally from Gévaudan, it was consecrated a century later. The bell towers were built at the beginning of the 16th century.
Characteristics: inside can be admired Aubusson tapestries from the beginning of the 18th century representing scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, very beautiful paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, 17th century woodwork (former rood screen and canons' stalls), a 12th century black virgin and remarkable 17th century organs.
Trivia: the large bell tower housed the "Non Pareille", which in its time (1517-1579) was the largest bell in Christendom, the clapper of which is still inside the cathedral. During the Wars of Religion, the bell was destroyed along with part of the building.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1906

Causse de Mende and the airfield
The Causse de Mende, which overlooks the town, is covered in forest and hosts a leisure centre (mountain biking, via ferrata, acrobatic park, playgrounds), as well as numerous hiking trails. It is a real green lung near the town centre. At the top of the hill stands the Mende-Brenoux airfield, which was the location for the final scene in Gérard Oury's film Don’t look now... we’re being shot at!.

Town Hall
Construction: 18th century
Characteristics: former 18th century mansion redesigned with modern parts, it has a very beautiful lauze roof, a beautiful interior staircase with a hanging keystone and also Aubusson tapestries. It became the town hall in 1851.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1944

Notre-Dame Bridge
Construction: 12th century
Characteristics: dating from the 13th century, this bridge was for a long time the only stone bridge in town. Crossing the Lot, the main arch of the bridge is 20.30 metres wide and 7 metres high. The second, smaller span is a semicircular arch. The charming site is also worth a visit for the superb inverted hull roofs on either side of the bridge, which are found in large numbers in the upper Lot valley.
Listed as a historical monument since 1889.

Urban V path
The Urban V path, which retraces the life of one of the most famous inhabitants of Lozère (Pope Urban V), goes from Nasbinals to Avignon. It passes through the town of Mende where it takes the Way of the Cross which has been restored by the town. The French Hiking Federation approved the Urban V trail as a long distance hiking trail in 2014.
www.randonnee-urbain-v.com

© Ville de Mende
Mountain landscape in Lozere (Languedoc-Roussillon, France) at summer: country road © Getty/clodio
© Ville de Mende
© Ville de Mende
© Creative Commons 3.0/Mossot

TO EAT:

Croquants de Mende
For many decades, Mende's artisanal pastry chefs have developed a know-how that has been passed down from generation to generation: the traditional production of croquant. A small, dry, elongated cake, it is enriched with almonds from the almond trees of the Gorges of Tarn and hazelnuts that were once picked from the hedges of the Margeride and the Lot valley. A delicacy made exclusively in the town, the Croquant de Mende, cut with a knife before cooking, can be a little soft or very dry depending on the recipe. It keeps for a very long time in a dry place and can travel very far.

fresh cantuccini in a bowl © Getty/CGissemann

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