Gard (30650) Population: 7,499 Altitude: 56 m
Rochefort-du-Gard is a picturesque old village in the Gard department, across the Rhône northwest of Avignon. It was a Gallo-Roman town inhabited in the 1st to 5th centuries, and had fortified and religious sites in the Middle Ages. Rochefort is surrounded by farms and vineyards of the Côte du Rhône region, and has an active local population.
The general area around Rochefort-du-Gard is not particularly attractive, so you need to make the effort to stop in the village and explore the many interesting sights. The A9 autoroute passes just to the west and the TGV high-speed railway passes just to the east. Both are far enough away that theres no view or noise from them at the village.
Castellas and View
The oldest part of Rochefort-du-Gard village is the Castellas hill where a feudal castle and walls stood in the 12th century. At the beginning of the 16th century a tower and a chapel were built on the site, and still overlook the village.
It's just a few minutes walk from the village center to the Castellas hilltop, and there's a really great view out across the plains. A panorama panel points out the main distant locations, and the peak of Mont Ventoux is clearly visible to the northeast.
St Joseph Chapel, Town Hall
The large Chapelle Saint-Joseph in the very center of Rochefort-du-Gard was built in 1735. In 1825, at the beginning of the French Revolution, the chapel became the Hotel de Ville, the town hall. The town hall remained here for 200 years, until 2012 when it was moved to a modernized building down on the Rue du Lavoir.
St Bardulphe Church
Notre-Dame de Grace
The Notre-Dame de Grace Santuary sits on top of a steep, rocky pinnacle 1 km northeast of Rochefort-du-Gard village center. It's predecessor was built in 798 as Chapel Notre Dame de Victoire by Charlemagne to celebrate the victory over the Arab Muslims by his father, Pepin the Short, the first Carolingian King (Kings).
The sanctuary buildings today are rather plain on the exterior, but the inside of the church, in active use, is elaborate, gilded and contains many ancient objects. Most of the buildings are used by the organization that maintains the site and are not open for visiting. The 14 stations of the cross that line the zig-zag path up the hill are restored with colored, bas-relief scenes depicting each station.
In 1637 the Benedictine order of Saint-Maure took over the sanctuary and, supported by the Popes (in Rome), expanded the site in buildings and wealth.
The monastery lasted until the French Revolution; in 1790 the buildings were declared state property. The site was pillaged, yet retained its religious use. In 1836 Notre-Dame de Grace became a Benedictine monastery, which lasted until the separation church and state, [probably] about 1905. In 1964 the sanctuary became a charitable organization for people with hearing problems.
Rochefort-du-Gard has two very nice sundials (cadran solaire). The first is in the old village, on the corner of Rue du Lavoir and Rue de la Petite Calade, not far from the town hall and the lavoir. GPS: 43.97469, 4.68977.
A second sundial, probably 19th century, and restored in 2013, is on the Mairie Annex building about 4 km east of the village. The building was the old Relais de Poste, completely refurbished when the site was converted into community buildings. GPS: 43.95922, 4.72991.
History of Rochefort-du-Gard
First record, 1169 Roca-Fortis. Succeeding names were Rupis-Fortis (1292), Castrum de Rupe-Forti (1312) and Rochefort (1551), with a few other variations.
Prehistoric: In 1995 the path of the future TGV railway past Rochefort-du-Gard was dug up. On the plains of Pujaut, northeast of the village, remnants of a 11,000-year-old Paleolithic fishing village was discovered, on the edge of an ancient lake.
Market day: Sun.
Department 30, Gard Buses
- See Beyond's Gard Department Bus Schedules for Gard bus-lines maps and bus-line schedules (Horaires).
Maps (Plans) for the Gard bus lines are on the www.edgard.fr website, with a flash webpage for each of five zones around Nîmes (www.edgard-transport.fr/plan/?rub_code=5).
Schedules for the Gard bus lines are available via the www.edgard.fr website horaires page (www.edgard-transport.fr/horaires/?rub_code=23).