Thursday, January 20, 2011

St Guilhem le Desert

St Guilhem le Desert is famous for its abbey, the swimming hole at Pont du Diable and its impressive views and the Clamouse caves. We'd meant to visit it during the summer to take a dip in the river water but never got around to it. It's supposed to be teeming with people in high season anyway. Over the Christmas holidays we decided to cram all three enfants into the car against their protestations and make the short trip to see it for ourselves. The quiet days after Christmas turned out to be a perfect time to visit. The little cream colored town was deserted and peaceful and the children had the run of the enormous plane tree growing in the main square opposite the abbey. They scrambled over its gnarled, arthritic roots while we parents took turns visiting the Abbey without disturbing the peace. The Abbey itself was beautiful inside and out and the nativity scene was still illuminated in one of the side chapels.
The small gorge cut out by the river Herault is breathtaking and you can park and walk around admiring the views, exploring the ruins of an old watermill even though the signs say to take caution and beware. The caves were closed during our trip but they would be more than worth another outing.
view of old watermill

the devil's bridge
the fam on the path, gorge below


village from the outside


  1. It's a lovely place and isn't the parking free at this time of year?

    It's overlooked by a splendid ruined castle which requires quite a trek to reach.

  2. We've been there a few times including Christmas day some years ago, for a concert in the abbey. It IS heavily touristed in season, but it's really extraordinary.

  3. I love the picture of the village and the smoke (certainly from wood in the fireplace, not from gas heating): if it wasn't for the receiveing dishes on the right you would think to be in another century!

  4. It looks absolutely beautiful. This is definitely on my list of places to take the kids. I'm guessing we would probably go in the off-season as well. I suppose this is one of the benefits of living in France all year-round.

  5. Oh, I do love coming here! And I very much like that first image, where you can so clearly see all the scooped out rock. So much romantic history, and clean, big air.

  6. Sarah,
    You're right, parking is free at this time of year. And there is plenty of it because the parking lot at the top of the town is big, big.

    It is so nice and quiet then, huh? I do want to go back in the summer for a swim and maybe a rafting ride though.

    And that's the view from outside the's a bit like a walled village with the courtyard and a maze of small walkable streets inside. Picture perfect.

    Merci Paris,
    You should go for sure. It's small but the swimming and rafting look like good fun for the kids in the summer and mine loved the village and hiking around too.

    I agree. And it's so close that we can see it in all its seasons. I'd love to see your photos of it.

    happy weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by and commenting.
    aidan x

  7. Wow! They are the beautiful pictures!
    Lovely blog!



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