The Inhabited brigde
The bridge was built in the 1st century AD to allow the passage of the Roman road from Nîmes to Toulouse. From the 13th century, houses are built on it. It is one of the few inhabited bridges (about fifteen in Europe), just like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It is 190 metres long and has at least 21 bridges, 7 of which are visible on Vidourle. The others are absorbed by the town. It has been restored several times. Only the arch visible on Rue de la Grave has been preserved in its original state.
The town of Sommières has been classified as a protected area. It is also the first town in the Gard to join the national network of “Petites Cités de Caractère”. Its architectural treasures is the result of a very rich past and a fascinating history. It has built the character of the inhabitants, just like the “Vidourlades”, the floods of this capricious river, which are sometimes terrible.
The castle and its Chapel
The construction of the castle is said to have taken place between the 10th and 11th centuries. It was strategically located above the Roman Bridge, the only way to cross the Vidourle River between the sea and the Cévennes Mountains. It originally had two identical towers but only one remains standing today.
A completely new attraction has opened its doors in Château Fort at Sommières. Visitors can learn about the history of the site and the town in an entertaining and interactive manner and the content is adapted to suit all audiences, even the very young. A unique display immerses the visitor in a timeless universe! Lose yourself in the story and allow yourself to be guided by your emotions…
For further information: www.chateau-sommieres.fr
The windmills in Calvisson
Three windmills built at the top of the Roc de Gachone, are a wonderful reason for a very pleasant walk in the scrubland.
A must-see, for the top of the Roc de Gachone which peaks at 167 meters provides magnificent views over the plain.
Here you will find three windmills, and the base of a fourth which was damaged during a storm in 1838.
One windmill, repaired in 1928, has an orientation table.
The pointed windmill is called the “Signal de Cassini”. The third has recently been consolidated.
There is also a fitness trail.
From the top you have a panoramic view and an orientation table.
Stone quarries in Junas
A grandiose, magical site forged by over 2000 years of rock extraction using manual operations that have not changed over time. Curiosity and amazement combine with the peace and quiet of this magnificent space, where man worked for centuries and nature has now taken back over. This is an ideal space for a family outing in the Gard. Adults discover an impressive, interesting setting and children find it an infinite playground!
The site was rehabilitated in 1987 by a small group of villagers. Many festivities take place here including a well-known annual jazz festival entitled the “Jazz à Junas” festival in July. Also, since 1988, JUNAS has been holding annual meetings on stone, known as the Rencontres de la Pierre where for the past 24 years many different types of interest in stone gather to discuss history, techniques and expertise of the fascinating trades related to stone. The marked trails here provide magnificent hikes and walks, and strong cultural heritage amidst magnificent views.
Home to a Jazz festival in July www.jazzajunas.fr
A large collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century ’boutis’—Provençal quilting—forming the first ‘museum’ to display the needlework techniques of Lower Occitania. It brings back this forgotten traditional art and shows its full popular and cultural dimension.
A medieval tradition, the art of quilting was used by the greatest embroiderers with links with the ‘Maisons Royales’ and ‘Manufactures’ producing luxury items to order. The most talented designers created models with incredible balance. The motifs taken from the decorative arts in fashion were inspired by legends and historical events as the cloth served as ‘writing’, and also plants and ‘Indian’ patterns (after cloth imported from the East Indies or reproduced in ‘Indian style’).
Discover frescoes, the enclosed vineyard and the museographic space: three rooms to immerse yourself in the History of Wine!
In 1970, the discovery of fragments of Etruscan amphorae from the 7th century BC confirmed that wine has been drunk in Calvisson since ancient times. This major find encouraged the establishment of an ‘oenopole’ dedicated to the history and local traditions under the scientific supervision of researchers and universities.
Vinopanorama is an interpretation centre that is free and accessible to everyone and open all year round. Discover: the outdoor areas along the green avenue that are freely accessible every day, a wall featuring a timeline spanning 27 centuries of history and depicting the different civilisations in nine paintings and the enclosed vineyard, a fun area that features the vines cultivated in the region and games etc. The museographic space inside the old barrel cellars (during the cellar’s opening hours) awakens the senses during a voyage through the world of wine.
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.
The romansque chapel in 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.
It attracts lovers of religions architecture, while music-lovers enjoy the concerts which are held there. In the village there is an imposing 18th century castle which now houses a restaurant. Along the Vidourle riverbank is an open air washing-place which reminds us of the washer women of the old days. To the north of the village one can see a Spanish colonial-style temple nestled in the greenery
The Terriers site
The Terriers site is an ancient Gallo-Roman villa from the 1st century AD and revealed through archaeological excavations. It can be visited virtually thanks to a device that combines narration and sound ambiance and immerses visitors in Roman antiquity.
Who lived in this house? How did its occupants live? What did they do in Villevieille? Live the digital experience of “Villevieille Antique”.
In addition to this unique experience, information panels have been installed on the site to allow visitors to access information about the domus without using their smartphone.
Photo Bastien Seon – Illustration Coralie Retureau