Historic center

Aiguèze

Aiguèze rises on a calcareous spur with a sheer drop to the river. There was a castle on this site in medieval times, and nowadays we can still admire its imposing ruins, with passages, staircases carved in the rock, underground water tanks. The urban plan is characterized by narrow alleys, vaulted passages and many valuable buildings, among which  […]

Allos

The historical centre of Allos was fortified in the pastimes and endowed, in the XVII century, of 32 chapels and a number of fountains, with the water supplied by the Chadoulin torrent, an out flowing stream (effluent) of the Allos lake. There are some significant monuments: the chapel of St-Sébastien (XVII century), finely decorated in its interiors, and the church of Notre-Dame de Valvert (XIII century), built in Romanesque style with block of grey limestone. Allos was an important centre for transhumance, and, in the second half of the XX century, it converted itself to the tourism and ski business. […]

Camarés

A reference to Camarès can be found in the IX century when it belonged to the abbey of Vabres. It was a fortress of the Protestant troops in the XVI century, during the religious wars. The charming bridge on the Dourdou (XI century) is the most significant monument. The village is located in the middle of the district of the Rougier, which is visible during the last part of the route. These are clay and schist soils, rich in iron oxides that provide a strong red brick colour. Thanks to many other minerals, such as copper oxides and silver lead, this place was inhabited and used during the Neolithic, as attested by the abundance of megalithic monuments. […]

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a very ancient town: its name was mentioned by Plinio the Old in the I century BC but the upper town, the Cité, dates back 2,500 years. Carcassonne indeed rises on an important way of transit between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. During the Roman epoch it used to be an oppidum and greatly developed as of the Carolingian Age. The feud was held by the viscounts Trencavel and was besieged by Simon de Monfort in 1209, during the crusade against the Albigenses. Even Carcassonne surrendered because of water insufficiency and was annexed to the royal properties in 1224. In 1240 Raymond II Trencavel headed a civic rebellion and Louis IX moved the upper town population to the valley in order to soothe the riot; here the Bastide was built on the left bank of the Aude. Even today Carcassonne boasts two valuable old towns: the Cité is a great example of fortified citadel, partially reconstructed in the XIX century thanks to the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. It preserves some of the walls and towers that date back to the Gaulish-Roman epoch and a second structure of medieval enclosure walls, the count’s castle and the Romanesque-Gothic basilica of Saint-Nazaire (XI-XIII c.). The citadel is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. […]

Caunes-Minervois

The village is located on the left bank of the Argent-Double and it encircles the Benedictine Abbey which was the original settlement founded in 982. The Carolingian structure was widened in the XII century and also later on. The abbey survived the crusade of the XIII century and the religious wars of the XVI century, but it was destroyed during the French Revolution. A campaign for its restoration has been active since the 90s and it is open to visitors. The old town is worth visiting as well and is characterized by paved streets and interesting Renaissance buildings dating back to the XV and XVIII centuries. Numerous fountains and irrigation ditches are also worth a visit. Excellent aoc “Minervois” wines are produced in the Caunes-Minervois area. […]

Crestet

Crestet is a very ancient village, founded by the Saracens around the VII or VIII century. The castle on the ridge peak belongs to a later epoch (XII century) and it was used until the French revolution, when it was demolished. It had been partly rebuilt and it now is a private property, as almost all the houses of the village which were acquired […]

Florac

Florac is the small capital of the Cévennes, located in the Tarn valley. Other two rivers flow into Florac: the Tarnon and the Mimente, both affluent of the Tarn. In the town centre, there is the magnificent resurgence of the Pêcher, which collects the underground waters of the […]

Foix

The old town of Foix is located on the confluence of the Ariège with the Arget, on a rocky spur full of caves inhabited in the prehistoric epoch, as evidenced by cave paintings and other retrievals dating back to the Palaeolithic. There was also a fortress during Roman times as well, but the town developed during the High Middle Ages: the late medieval centre included the Benedictine abbey of St-Volusien (849) and the castle (X century) of the counts of Foix. The centre developed at the foot of the fortress two centuries later. During the crusade the castle and the county of Foix played a marginal role, but many Catharists were surely sheltered here. Between the XIV and XV centuries the city lived its most glorious period, when count Gaston Fébus de Foix-Béarn made the castle bigger and more beautiful, shaping it to its current forms and dimensions: the fortress has three towers, big walls and a building connecting two of the towers. The castle can be visited, and it includes a small museum with finds from the abbey of St-Volusien (destroyed during the religious wars in the XVI century), located in the central building. The last count of Foix, Henry III, king of Navarra, who became king of France under the name of Henry IV, lived in the castle as well. The castle was restored in the XIX century by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, artificer of the restoration of the Cité of Carcassonne. The interesting Romanesque-Gothic church of St-Volusien and the beautiful houses belonging to the XVI-XVII centuries give value to the medieval hamlet. It is possible to walk along St-Jamme street, or Saint James, at the foot of the castle: Foix is one of the stages of the pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela. […]

Labastide-de-Virac

The village of Labastide-de-Virac, rising on a relief, is dominated by the castle of the Counts of Roure (XIV-XV century). They were Huguenots, later converted to Catholicism after the revocation of the edict of Nantes (1685). The castle was taken by the Camisards during the religious wars of 1703. It finally ended up in the Pradier family during the French Revolution. It is still inhabited nowadays and  is open to the public. It can be reached by walking up narrow alleys among beautiful stone buildings. The castle’s courtyard hosts a refreshment bar which is usually open. There is a museum inside the castle, dedicated to sericulture and silk production, with a permanent silkworm breeding farm. There is also the possibility of visiting a retrospective in Languedoc on the repression of the Protestant reform. […]

Lagrasse

The medieval village of Lagrasse (XII-XIII century), commendably preserved, arose near the Benedictine abbey of Ste-Marie d'Orbieu, founded in the VIII century. The impressive abbey complex, entirely walled, is located to the west of the stream Orbieu. The monastery can be visited: for information, tel. 33 (0)4 68 43 15 99. The Pont Vieux, built after 1303 and repeatedly modified afterwards, leads to the old town and to the square including important medieval buildings, with workshops and warehouses on the ground floor, and houses on the higher floors. There is a beautiful covered loggia (XIV century) at the centre of the square where the market still takes place nowadays: the village arose during the Late Middle Ages and it was originally a craft textile centre and the biggest market of the Basses Corbières. […]

Le Vigan

Le Vigan is the main centre of the southern Cévennes, on the borders of the massif of Mont Aigoual. It has been inhabited since ancient times, and in the Middle Ages it was an important Benedictine foundation, endowed with extensive land properties. The community adhered to the Reform and lead to 200 years of religious wars. The historical centre is rich in fine buildings dating back to the XVIII century, when the town experienced a flourishing period thanks to the textile industry, mainly to sericulture. Important hosiery factories are still productive nowadays. The roman bridge on the Arre (XII cent.) is worth a visit and Le Buscailhou, a neighbourhood on the right bank of the river. The Musée Cévenol is also noteworthy, it is located near the above mentioned neighbourhood and it is situated in an old spinning mill. The Promenade des Châtaigners also deserves a visit, being an ancient area of the medieval market, converted into a  secular chestnut tree lined promenade in the XVIII century. […]

Le-Pont-de-Montvert

Le-Pont-de-Montvert is one of the most charming places of the Cévennes. It was of great strategic importance in the past because of its bridge over the Tarn, on the road linking Mende and Portes. It is exactly in this place that the Camisard Revolt started. The village, which had been harshly disputed by Catholics and protestants, has a well preserved […]

Les Vans

The foundation of Les Vans dates back to the XII century. It experienced a period of strong expansion in the XIX century, thanks to silkworm breeding and silk weaving. The historical silk mill (rue du Couvent) has now been transformed into a museum and it hosts an archaeological collection from the area and a geologic one, an exhibition on the olive tree and a permanent one dedicated to an important figure of the village: Léopold Ollier, pioneer of orthopaedic surgery. In the town centre there is the parish church of St-Pierre-ès-liens (XVII-XVIII cent.), a protestant temple (1824), a wash-house of 1851 in place de la Fontaine, and remarkable buildings of the XV-XVII centuries. […]

Malaucène

Malaucène is a small walled village of which two gates ,the ruins of the walls, narrow lanes and houses with renaissance portals in calcareous ashlars, and a few medieval buildings are all that remain. Its many fountains receive water from the spring of Groseau, located on the south western side of the village, which allowed the development of factories since medieval times. The village still preserves the church of St-Michel, built by pope Clemente V at the beginning of the XIV century, during the “Avignon captivity” of the papacy. There is also a castle, Le Calvaire, built on pre-existing fortifications in the XIX century and a civic tower with a clock. […]

Minerve

Minerve and its surrounding chalky uplands have been inhabited since the Paleolithic. The fortified town developed considerably during the Middle Ages and this is known because of the siege raised in 1210 by Simon de Monfort, head of the crusade against the Albigenses. The town, which seemed inaccessible, surrendered because of lack of drinking water, after its only well was poisoned with […]

Montbrun-les-Bains

Montbrun-les-Bains is a small medieval village located at the confluence between the two torrents Anary and Toulorenc. It is classified as one of the 100 most beautiful small villages of France. It is located at the feet of the ruins of the Dupuy-Montbrun castle and it lines the Place du Beffroi and the streets of Bourgade and Nôtre-Dame. The Beffroi, the  […]

Montségur

Signs of the Neanderthal Man (80,000 years ago) have been found in some caves in the surroundings of Montségur. The most significant presence belongs to the Middle Ages, even though it is possible that the impregnable fortress had already been used during Roman times. As a matter of fact, the name of the village clearly derives from the Latin mons securus, which means safe mountain. The village preserves the medieval structure, with steep narrow streets and stone houses. A small archaeological museum explains the village and castle’s history and their everyday life during the Middle Ages. […]

Monze

Monze was an old fortified village on the “wool lane” to Carcassonne, and its only entrance was the nice three-arched bridge (XIII century) on the stream La Bretonne. The old town preserves the Romanesque-Gothic church of Saint Félix de Valois and a suggestive cemetery, where the XVI century burial place of a Compostelan pilgrim can be seen. The valuable stone is crowned with the Maltese cross. The village economy is based on wine growing. The wine growers’ cooperative of Monze counts on around fifteen grantor partners and approximately 400 hectares of vineyards. […]

Quillan

A reference to the castle can be found in the X century, but the expansion of the village along the river dates back to the XIII century. Quillan was one of the spots where the crusade against the Albigenses took place. Its castle (on the left mountain side, in front of the old town), house of the archbishop of Narbonne, was kept by  […]

Roquefixade

Roquefixade is a very tiny but nice village, with a wide square and a church with a bell gable. The XI century castle has steep walls and a tower looming over the village. During the crusade the castle was allied with the counts of Toulouse and Foix, being dependent on them. It became a royal property afterwards and it was restored and renewed. The ruins visible today date back to that period. The castle was then given back to the counts of Foix. It lost its defensive function in the XVII century and it finally decayed after the Revolution. Documents have mentioned the village since the XIII century, but it is likely that it existed even earlier and that it housed numerous Catharists. […]

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