Le vigan

Yesterday

Around 500 B.C. the Volques, who had come from a zone running from the Rhône to the Garonne, inhabited the region. In the second century B.C. the Romans built a number of important communication routes, the two most important for Le Vigan being Nîmes-Rodez and Gévaudan-Lodève.
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Today

Le Vigan is an interesting place to visit, with a maze of narrow alleyways in the heart of the town, fountains, the "parc des Chataigner...'s" (sweet chestnut park), the medieval quarter around the Cevenol museum and the magnificent 12th century bridge.
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Campestre & Luc

This commune is on the edges of the Aveyron and the Herault, on the Larzac Causse. The two small hamlets of Campestre and Luc were joined in 1812 to form the larger commune.

The chapel in Campestre is an old fort. The camisards (rebel Huguenots) tried to burn it down in June 1703, but the inhabitants themselves armed themselves and chased them off. The chapel was almost entirely rebuilt in1865. It has been constructed in a Romanesque style with three naves and an elegant bell tower on the façade.

Throughout the commune are dotted numerous "cazelles" small dry stone buildings used by shepherds. You can see two of them from the D273 near La Camp, between Luc and Campestre.

Alzon

Alzon, situated at the top of the river Vis valley, has some beautiful houses from the 18th century.

This village was constructed around a Benedictine priory. The number of old "auberges" and hotels here bear witness to its historic importance as a stopping off place.

The 12th century fortified church, modified in the 17th and 19th centuries merits a visit. On the back wall of the old "Penitents blancs" chapel a curious fresco on the lower part of the wall, depicts a small penitent. The inhabitants of Alzon of course took part in the pilgrimage of St. Guilharet. A small shrine in the shape of a cross marks the beginning of the path leading to the summit of St. Guiral and the cross of St. Guilharet. The shepherds used to leave a small posy of buttercups there at the start of the transhumance in order to protect their sheep from illnesses. The 18th century cross replaces a much older one. A very damaged tree of life decorates the plinth.

Vissec

This beautiful village is found in the Gorges de la Vis upstream from Cirque de Navacelles ; the river here only flows after heavy rains. The river goes underground at Alzon re-emerging downstream from Vissec at the "resurgence de la Foux"; there is a pleasant walk leading down to the mills situated near here. The mills have been restored by the commune of Vissec and house a permanent exhibition looking back over the centuries of life on the Causse, focussing on the commune of Vissec and the importance of the river.

The village of Vissec was an old fortress destroyed in 1629 on the orders of the Duke of Rohan during the religious wars. The houses are tall, in order to take up the least possible ground space. The ground floor sheltered the animals, whilst the first floor provided a communal living space "l'Oustal" as well as 1 or 2 little bedrooms. The attic, as well as its usual use, also served as additional sleeping space.

Blandas

Blandas is home to thyme, space and light.

It is completely different from the green Cevennes. If you like rocky open spaces, this is the place for you.

The Causse (limestone plateau) is called "La Causse de Blandas" after the village Blandas. The word "Causse" (from the Occitan "caous" meaning whitewashed) means "high land surrounded by natural ramparts" and the Causse really is a world apart.

The village of Blandas is situated where the roads bisect the Causse, sheltered from the wind, close to the dolines. These are shallow depressions where fertile earth is gathered to allow crops to be grown.

The little pond next to the river where the animals come to drink is fed by rainwater runoff and, more unusually for the Causse, a spring.

The houses and farms are typical of a limestone area with archways, staircases and terraces. The farms are generally built from stone with vaulted roofs, as wood was too rare a commodity to be used for the framework. The Blandas Causse is rich in prehistoric remains : dolmens, menhirs and stone circles.

Rogues

The name "Rogues" comes from the Celtic word "roues" meaning "road" and you can find in the outskirts of the village the remains of the Roman road leading from Le Vigan to Lodeve.

Rogues benefits from a favoured site on the plateau where the stony steppe-like lawns covered in thyme, thistles and asphodels disappear off into the distance. An agricultural area, the main areas of investment are cattle rearing and goat farming. Over the last few years it is cattle rearing that has developed the most, particularly Aubrac cattle. The landscape bears witness to this pastoral way of life: the population distributed in small hamlets, vaulted buildings with small openings, and water tanks to catch the rainwater.

Madières is found in the bottom of the gorges of the river Vis. More than 300m deep, this is a cutting the Vis has followed for more than three million years, a canyon and magnificent cliffs create a wild environment where you can sometimes surprise a pair of golden eagles. Around the houses there are terraces where you can find vines, olive, mulberry and fig trees : agriculture which complements that of the Causse.

It is a curious village, built on both sides of the river, where the chateau, converted into a 4 star hotel is in the Gard, whilst the chapel and cemetery are in the Herault.

Montdardier

Montdardier is built close to where the Cevennes (schist) joins the Causse (limestone).
The village was constructed at the foot of the chateau, restored at the end of the 19th century in accordance with the plans of Violet le Duc. This was also the site of an old fortress (destroyed and rebuilt several times), which presided over an important route between Causse and Cevennes.

It is overlooked by the summit of the Tude (895m), which joins onto the pic d'Anjeau (862m), a white spur extending out from the private mainly conifer forest.

The chapel dedicated to St. Martin is found a little way away from the village. One can see there a naïve tympanum, the work of a local sculptor and a reminder of the chapel's heritage. Look out for the disc-shaped Maltese Cathar cross in the adjacent cemetery.

Avèze

Three rivers cross this village : the Arre and its two tributaries, the Coudoulous and the Glèpe.

Avèze village, originally the centre of the commune, is built along the Glèpe, the district of Rochebelle is built on the flat land around the Arre, and the most recent developments have been on the hills which dominate the valley.

Avèze has a Benedictine foundation : the chapel and the presbytery are built on the old monastery site.

From the road you can see the château Montcalm, constructed on the foundations of an old fortress, which experienced many turbulent times. The old bridge dates from 1715.

Pommiers

Pommiers is about ten minutes away from Le Vigan and has around sixty inhabitants. It is in between the Cevennes and the Causse and overlooks the Arre and the Glèpe valleys.

It is in an outstandingly beautiful place, with fantastic sunny views over the mountains, which overhang Le Vigan.

The Romanesque chapel of St. André from the 12th century was extended by the 19th century side chapel of St. Joseph, and is unique in the Le Vigan area because of its vaulted gothic archways, and its barrel (or ribbed) vaulted chancel ,where the "ribs" rest on sculpted tailpieces.




  • You can reach the hamlet of Campestre (26kms) by following the D999 in the Millau direction.
  • Soon after the "col de la Barriere" turn left and follow the D270 to Campestre
    and then to Luc
    .

The two villages are on the Larzac Causse where the countryside is wild and open.

  • Come back through Alzon.
  • Turn right in the village (D154) and drive to Vissec.

The road follows the dry riverbed of the Vis; the river runs underground until the resurgence at la Foux.

  • Continue along the D113, which takes you back up to the plateau and the village of Blandas.

There is an information board between the two villages that explains about life on the Causse.
From the viewing point about 1.5 kms from Blandas, you can see the Cirque de Navacelles.

  • You can drive down to Navacelles by a series of hairpin bends.

On one of these there is the start of a path leading to the "Moulins de la Foux" (mills of the Foux). At Navacelles there is the chance of a refreshing swim.

  • Drive back up towards Maurice de Navacelles then, following signs for Ganges, join the road going to the Gorges of the Vis, an amazing canyon carved out of the limestone.
  • At Madières turn left towards Rogues, back up on the Causse.
  • Follow the D48 through Montardier.
  • Leaving the village take a right hand fork to Pommiers, drive down to Avèze and then back to Le Vigan.

he whole trip takes a full day, but you can cut it down into shorter segments. There is a map of the area available at the Tourist Office.