The Cévennes

A mountainous area in southern France, north of Montpellier. Because of the mountains and its position away from major French cities, it is quite isolated. When Protestantism began to spread from the cities to the countryside in the 16th century, it took some time to reach the Cévennes. But Cevenol people were notoriously stubborn and individual, and once Protestant ideas did reach them, it took root and lasted far longer than in other rural parts of France. The famous Camisard rebellion of 1702-10, in which Cevenol peasants used guerilla tactics against the King’s army in order to preserve their religion, is still a source of pride. Today there are active Protestant churches in small villages like Le Pont de Montvert.

Robert Louis Stevenson made the Cévennes famous with his travel book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). However, I chose to set The Virgin Blue in the Cévennes because family legend has it that the Chevaliers originally came from there, which made me want to explore the region.