Chestnuts were a staple diet of the Cévennes hillfolk. The nuts would be ground to make flour and used to feed both humans and livestock. If you walk anywhere in the hills of the National Park of the Haut Languedoc you will find that, as you ascend, quite suddenly the garrigue flora gives way to a quite different type of vegetation of which chestnut trees and arbutus trees (also known as 'strawberry trees') form an important part.
Many hill towns celebrate the noble chestnut by holding a festival in October or November, which is when the chestnuts fall to the ground to germinate or be picked by chestnut hunters. Two of the best known festivals are held at St-Pons-de-Thomières and Olargues. Here, you will find stalls selling chataignes in many different forms - grilled or roasted, pounded into flour to make bread and cakes, or preserved in sugar to make the prized marrons glacées. There will also be lots of other stalls celebrating artisanale products, and games and toys for the kids.