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Cantobre, Aveyron, at sunset

The magical village of Cantobre, Lozere

We'd been driving for about five hours through the wildest, most thickly forested part of the Cevennes and it was evening when we discovered Cantobre. I'd put the map away and was navigating by the sun – home was westward and there aren't many roads to choose from down here. We were following a narrow road high in the gorge of the River Dourbie with tantalising views of the river below that I didn't want to miss.

Cantobre clings to a knife-edged slice of rock right at the end of the ridge where the Trèvezel river meets the Dourbie. We came out of the forest and saw the village about a mile away; with the low sun in our eyes we had to keep blinking to make sure it was still there, that it hadn't somehow disappeared. This picture is taken from the other side of the Trèvezel river. There is a very small road across the Dourbie that connects the village to the highway, but it stops short of the village itself. There are a few houses and the church on the other side of the ridge, and that's all there is of Cantobre. People still live here, but it's hard to see how they survive economically, even with generous state support to keep small rural communities alive.

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