Gard (30440) Population: 1,633 Altitude: 205 m
Sumène is a great little village at the southern edge of the Cévennes. Sumène, sitting astride the small Rieutord river, is mostly "old village" and has lots of long streets on both sides of the river for exploring. There are several stone bridges, old defensive gates and towers, vaulted passages (medieval porches), sundials and a great master clock repairman.
A section of Sumène on the west side of the river is very medieval, with long, narrow streets and very old buildings. At some places tunnel-like vaulted passages lead off beneath the buildings to access the river.
Another section of Sumène on the east side of the river is less medieval but not at all "new". This side has a large square, Place du Plan, with shade trees, a small grassy park, benches and surrounded by colorful old houses, as well as the town hall (mairie).
An ancient stone bridge crosses from the Place du Plan over the river into the east side of the village, passing between two medieval towers.
The main D153 road up the valley through Sumène crosses the river over a one-lane bridge at the south end of the village. A simple round sign at the approach from the south indicates that oncoming traffic has priority to cross the bridge. Nothing as complicated as signal lights seems to be necessary.
Floods and High Water
As in many riverside villages we found official signs of past serious floods. On the main square of the west side of the village, La Place, beside the fountain and beneath the sundial, is an engraved stone plaque marking the high water levels of October 1812, October 1847 and September 1958. All three marks are nearly 2 meters above the surface of the square and several meters above the adjacent river.We can only imagine how wide the river is across the valley when it gets that high.
Old Railway Line
A railway line once came up the Gorges du Rieutord from Ganges. The railway is gone but some of the arched stone viaducts still mark the passage along the side of the valley, and the old railway station is still in Sumène, although no longer an actual station.
We found three great sundials in Sumène, with a little help from the master clockmaker.
The main sundial is at the village square, La Place, on the west side, beside the river and a terrace café.
A second sundial is on one of the houses facing east, visible from the old bridge that crosses in between the two medieval towers. Looking west across the bridge, this sundial is on the south wall of the third house north of the bridge.
The third sundial is on the house of the master clockmaker. On the main D153 just northeast of the main bridge, the clockmaker's shop beside the road is ocre orange with a white ballistrade across the top. Set back from the ballistrade is the house with the sundial between two blue-shuttered windows.
Market day: Wed.
• GPS: 43.981010, 3.715907
There are some good hiking trails in the hills around Sumène, but with high hills the trails can be rather steep.
West of Sumène a trail climbs up to Le Serre (425 m) about 1.5 km from the village where it joins the GR60 (Grande Randonnée) that runs between Ganges to the south and Pont d'Herault to the north.
An all-day loop hike from Sumène goes south along the side of the river and loops north up to the Ranc de Banes (713 m) and returns northeast down the mountain side to Sumène.
We hiked southeast from Sumène directly up to the top at Ranc de Banes, then tried to find a loop northeast, northwest and west back to the village that was marked on some local maps. After descending to Col de l'Agas (511 m) we got hopelessly lost (we knew exactly where we were but there was no sign of a trail anywhere). After some serious off-trail hiking down through underbrush, back to the col, then down further and back up again, we gave up and reversed our direction past Ranc de Banes to Sumène. A bit frustrating to have not found the trail, but great hiking!
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).