Le vigan


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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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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This village is called after the river, which it spans. The oldest part of the village is on the right bank and stretches as far as the "Cap d'Arre", there are narrow streets, attractive houses and a medieval bridge. The old orphanage (1900) with its eye-catching tower was home to orphans from Aveyron who were brought to work in the hosiery factories. Arre was well known for its manufacture of natural silk stockings. The architecture from the previous century bears witness to the prosperity of this period : large houses, church, "Mairie", station, fountains....

Bez & Esparon

In the heart of the Arre valley, Bez looks like a medieval city, stuck to the side of the mountain, the houses built close together for protection and to maximise the valuable agricultural land.

For centuries Bez was a centre for two important cottage industries : hosiery and cooperage. The stockings made there were exported as far as Spain.

There are still impressive chateaux with Saracen towers in Bez.

The chateaux overlook the area and have been renovated and changed several times throughout the centuries. The Valette chateau situated away from and above the village dates from the 12th century. The Massal chateau on the other side of the bridge was renovated at the end of the 19th century. The ancient church has been renovated several times.

Esparon is a real eagle's eyrie, perched on the limestone peak at 663m, and offering remarkable views over the surrounding countryside. The little church has been restored : the lid of a beautiful Carolingian Sarcophagus has been transferred to the "salle du temps"in the museum in Le Vigan.


At the end of the 19th century, Molières took the name Molières-Cavaillac to avoid confusion with Molières sur Cèze another village in the county.

The village was important in both agriculture and industry at the end of the 19th century. The renovated silk spinning mill bears witness to this time when up to 100 people (80 women) were employed to spin silk.

The chapel is constructed in a fort dating from the Middle Ages. Built in a Romanesque style, with very thick walls, the chapel has two vaulted sanctuaries at different levels. The upper level is used for a bell and clock tower.

  • Follow signs to Millau (D999) for about 3kms.
  • At the end of Cavaillac turn right and then 600m further on take a left turn for Molieres.
    • The restored silk spinning mill with big arched bay windows is immediately eye catching. This mill was the last to close in the '50s.

      • Cross the village and drive to the picturesque hamlet of Esparon, perched on the hill.
      • Follow the narrow D790 to Bez.
        • The woollen hosiery factory was replaced initially by cotton hosiery, then in the 18th century by silk. These were essentially cottage industries and the Cevenols worked at home on metal looms made by the local blacksmith. You can learn more about these cottage industries, and see numerous artefacts at the Cevenol museum.

          • Your next stop is Arre, along the D999.

          This village was an important centre for hosiery. In the 19th century factories replaced home based work and the "Brun d'Arre" factory developed successfully, investing in mechanical looms in 1860, and high yielding looms in 1880 and subsequently the dye works...the Brun d'Arre company was well known for its silk stockings thanks to the production of "Lily stockings" (bas Lys) in 1906.

          In the 20th century with the arrival of nylon and synthetic materials, the factories continued production, but little by little they closed down in response to economic pressures. The WELL factory is still based in Le Vigan, but that is also in the process of making cutbacks.