Gard (30430) Population: 1,564 Altitude: 250 m
This little town, just a few km from the Ardeches Gorges, has interesting Medieval sites, lots of activities, good restaurants and cafés and a great Friday market. It's a bit off the main tourist paths through the Ardeches, and isn't too crowded in the Summer. Market day Fri.
Barjac is located in a wild and picturesque area of garrigues and rivers, between the Gorges de la Cèze (just to the south) and the deeper and longer Ardèche Gorges (Gorges de l Ardèche) (to the northeast). The wild part of the land contains many grottos and caves, hiking trails and very ancient artifacts lie menhirs and dolmens.
Barjac village is perched on a low hill in an area of farmlands, woods and small rivers. Although most Provencal villages were established at a water source, the original water source for Barjac was from a small stream, the Bourdaire, that runs past the west side, about 1 km from the center. The water was brought in to the village via an aqueduct from the tiny hamlet of Mailhac (straight ahead in our lookout-site photo).
The Saint-Laurent church in the center of Barjac was built over a 20-year period, in 1672 to 1692. Its current form dates from a major restoration in 1862. The Barjac church still looks very medieval, and sits at the northern edge of the village center.
An annual festival in Barjac is the abrivado, the running of black bulls through the center of the village by gardians, cowboys and cowgirls mounted on Camargue white horses. This is a really big event, with folkloric costumes, period singing and dancing, and the running of the bulls. Young men of the village intervene, trying to grab the bulls by tail or horns and get them away from the mounted gardians. Great fun! Our photos are from the August 2013 event.
Barjac has a large weekly market every Friday, all year. The market takes up all of the open area in the center of town, and includes everything from clothes and artisanal crafts to the typically Provencal local products.
History of Barjac
Gallo-Roman: A Roman road called the Helvien way (Voie d'Antonin), between Valence and Nîmes, was used by the Romans to invade into the Rhone valley along the right bank (west side) of the Rhone. The route was past Alba and down past the Ardeches. About 74 km of the route were marked by milestones (bornes milliaires), and the southern-most milestone was found in the commune of Barjac, about 2 km north of the village.
Medieval: The protective ramparts were built around the village in 1379. The first rulers of Medieval Barjac were the Lords of Barjac. They and their descendants rules Barjac until the end of the 15th century.
More Recently: The renaissance chateau of the Counts of Roure was built in the 17th century (1634-1639). The chateau remained in the Roure family until 1899.
King Louis XIII stayed the night in Barjac on 5-6 June 1629, sleeping the the house of Beauvoir du Roure de Saint Florent. The King's troops were taking over the Protestant defensive positions in the region, and two week later, on 28 June 1629, Louis XIII signed the Paix d'Alès, ending the 70-year long wars of Religion in France and Europe. This Protestant-Catholic conflict occured a century after the famous French Wars of Religion.
Market day: Fri.
Apr - Large Foire Brocante, Flea market (Easter)
• GPS: 44.308418, 4.346486
IGN (1/25,000) #2939 OT "Gorges de l'Ardèche"
There are many short, loop-hikes from Barjac out into the surrounding garrigues. One very interesting themed hike is a loop out to the northeast that passes by several very ancient dolmens.
The Gorges de la Cèze are only 6 km to the south, and the hike SE to the picturesque village of Montclus is just over two hours.
The Ardèche Gorges (Gorges de l Ardèche) is about 10 km, over two hours hiking from Barjac. Local trails from the village hook up with the A HREF="../sports/hiking-gr04.html" title="GR4 Hiking Trail Atlantic-Mediterranean Grande Randonee">GR4 hiking trail that passes along the right bank of the Ardeche.
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).