Gargantua…according to legend, the giant described by Rabelais was responsible for the 731m high hill on the south-eastern border of Haute Vienne. Mont Gargan is in the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches and is a site of natural, cultural and historic interest. It has a discovery trail featuring heathland, peat bogs, an avenue of century-old beech trees and religious remains. From its summit there are superb panoramic views of the Plateau de Millevaches, Massif des Monédières and all the plateaux of the Limousin region as far as the Monts d’Auvergne. Two orientation tables enable visitors to identify different parts of the landscape. A discovery booklet is available with details of the history and heritage curiosities of Mont Gargan.
The 2.2km trail is a great way to explore the area on foot or by mountain bike starting from the avenue of majestic beech trees, guardians of the site. The remains of the Chapel Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is on a little mound at the top of the hill. It was built between 1868 and 1871 by the priest of Surdoux and Saint-Gilles-les-Forêts, 2 villages near Mont Gargan. The Neo-Gothic style chapel is built of granite and stone from local quarries. The bell, which vanished a long time ago, was replaced in 2011 at the centre of the chapel. The Fontaine du Buisson Blanc probably takes its name from the hawthorn trees which blossomed around it. Hawthorn was said to be the Virgin Mary’s tree and thus brings good luck. According to tradition, the spring never dries up and is an object of worship. The memorial stone commemorates action by the Resistance.
During the Second World War, the Mont Gargan region was very important. The memorial recalls the combat in July 1944 between the FTP led by Georges Guingouin against a large German force supported by the French Milice. It perpetuates the memory of the Resistance fighters who lost their lives during this episode and also pays tribute to the many members of the Resistance in Limousin.
Over 50 years ago, on the initiative of the local traditional group Escòla dau Mont-Gargan, a festival was created to promote popular arts and traditions. Every 15th August for 6 days the summit of Mont Gargan is the setting for performances by national and international music and dance groups. The usually silent hill comes alive to the sound of music !