Le Pays de Sommières - The villages
On a hill overlooking the village is the Roc de Gachone. There you will see the remains of three windmills and the site of Guilhem de Nogaret’s castle. There is a beautiful view over the plain all the way to the sea. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Vaunage region was the setting for constant strife between the Catholics and the Protestants. In Calvisson you will see the Protestant church with its classical architecture, the impressive Roman Catholic Church, narrow streets with shops and elegant private homes.
Park in the car park at the beginning of the village. Walk to the ruins of the once lovely St André chapel built in the 12th century and now surrounded by vineyards. In the village centre, stroll along the streets which made up this circulade, a clever circular system of urban planning built around the Church and castle which provided protection for the centre of the village.
Walk along the narrow village streets looking for remains of its medieval past. On one of the town squares you will see an odd republican pillar next to a charming baroque fountain. The village leads up to the Bois des Lens woods and has a very pleasant environment.
The original medieval design of the village can still be seen in the old town centre. During the18th century Congénies was home to people practicing three different religions including Quakerism. Congénies was home in the XVIIIth century to a group of independent thinkers called “les inspirés” (the inspiredones) who after a visit to Quakers in London, founded the first Quaker meeting in France. Non-conformism was the majority religion in the villages around Nimes at that time.
Famous for its old stone quarries. Ever since the middle ages the quarrymen have patiently extracted the material needed to build houses. The quarry with its dramatic cuts and different levels provides a sumptuous setting for cultural events during the summer season such as the Jazz festival. The original medieval part of the village is surrounded by ramparts. In the more recent quarter the visitor can discover the Protestant Church and, here and there, stone works of art which were created during the “Rencontres de la Pierre” (Stone encounters) which take place in Junas on the first weekend in July. Maps available at the Junas town hall.
The village is made up of several little hamlets and is surrounded by vineyards. The monastery has an Interesting history where the monks cleared the land and worked the vineyards and were builders. Remains of the monastery can be seen in the old cemetery.
Saint Julien de Salinelles
Before arriving in the village coming from Sommières you will see on a hill to your left the Romanesque chapel of St Julien de Montredon which is a perfect example of Languedoc Romanesque architecture.
This charming village is perched on a rocky point overlooking the Vidourle river. Remains of its ramparts tell us of its medieval past. Walk through the town’s narrow streets and take the stone stairway down to the banks of the river.
Located on both sides of the main road to Alès, the village is made up of several units. There is the main village with houses built in the traditional southern France style grouped around the castle and the church. Then there are several large farmhouses in the middle of the vineyards and the hamlet of Pondres with its magnificent Renaissance castle and grounds. Not far from Fontanes is Notre Dame de Prime Combe, a sanctuary which has attracted pilgrims since the Middle Ages.
Perched on a hilltop, this village has a central core with buildings grouped around the feudal castle.
The original village lies on a hill with houses grouped around the Romanesque church. In the 19th century a new section developed along the road to Alès where there were taverns and post houses.
The village is located below the woods called le Bois de Paris which owes its name to an ancient Gallic wall the remains of which can be found in the woods. Mainly an agricultural village, it was built around a small castle and had such activities as grain mills, oil mills, sheepherding. It was located on a sheep trail between the Cévennes mountains and the sea.
Saint Etienne d'Escattes
In the center of the hamlet you will see the Romanesque Saint Etienne Chapel built in the 11th century. Notice the strange engraved stone on the apse.
The town and its magnificent castle overlook the Vidourle river plain. The castle tower dates back to the 10th century whereas the main part of the castle was renovated in the Renaissance style at the end of the 16th century. To visit the castle, telephone 0670 61 81 49. Villevieille has a remarkable archeological heritage. The prehistoric settlement of Fontbouisse is located not far away. This site was occupied 2500 years before Christ. A recent archeological dig, near the present town hall, revealed remains of a Roman town dating from the 1st century AD.
Cannes et Clairan
After the french revolution, in 1790, the small villages Cannes and Clairan were put together to form a larger village.
On the top of the hill the ruins of an old chapel overhang the ancient roman water tank and the medieval castle. Every second Thursday in August a traditionnal market takes place with local produce.