Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/368
S. Gervais is a picturesque little town situated at the junction of the Casselouvres and the Mare, that takes its rise in the Signal de l'Espinouse, 3,380 feet. Its church has the peculiarity of the spire being a grove of trees and a bed of wallflowers that have rooted themselves in the stonework and been allowed to grow there unmolested. The town, notwithstanding that it preserves many relics of the Middle Ages and a general aspect that is venerable, is but modern compared with the older town, now abandoned, that was built on a jagged rock, its ruins mingling with the rock and scarce distinguishable from it. The more modern town is planted on a hillock standing by itself; the streets are narrow, scrambling up the side of the hill, and the houses are dingy, dirty, and dilapidated. The still more modern town lies below the hill. There is an intermittent spring in the side of the Hotel Soulié. At Saint Gervais at fair time may be noted the contrast that exists between the inhabitant of the sun-baked, semi-tropical lower land, rich in oil, honey, and wine, and the mountaineer who descends there to sell his cattle. Those who live in the sheltered valleys are clothed in stout broadcloth and serge, or bottle-green velvet. They arrive at a fair or market, noisy, sprightly, their mules laden with corn and fruit. On the other hand, the inhabitant of the heights of the Espinouse or Larzac is grave, reserved, uncommunicative, clothed in a garment of coarse cloth called grisaoud, followed by interminable flocks of sheep, goats, and oxen.
"They trade, they chaffer over almonds, olives, honey, cocoons, wheat, the produce of a sunny nature; at Saint Gervais is a cattle market, and is of a graver character, for