Gard (30630) Population: 143 Altitude: 80 m
Montclus is a tiny Medieval village perched above the Cèze river in an isolated, forested area. The setting is quite lovely; the approach to the village is past vineyards, with a couple of lavender fields at the foot of the hill.
Summer-only café, no commerce.
Montclus Gard is one of the Most Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages) of France.
Montclus is a village of mainly seasonal residences. It's fine for a visit in the summertime, but not a place to hang out. There's virtually no café in the village; we say "virtually" because there is the café-restaurant Le Murier, open during June, July, Aug, but they don't open until around 10 am and we do miss a morning café stop. Le Murier has a low-cost lunch menu, but the price of their grande creme way over the top.
There are many caves and grottos in the hills bordering the Cèze river in the area around Montclus.
The Beaumes Grotto northeast of the village revealed artifacts from different prehistoric eras, well before the grotto was enlarged into a Benedictine Abbey.
The Grotte de Traves, 500 m north of the village on the west bank of the Cèze, had many prehistoric artifacts, unearthed in the 1960s. In the two following decades, spelunkers mapped extensive underground galleries. Location (lat, long): 44.2662, 4.4188
The Pravel Grotto, 3 km northwest of the village and on the north side of the river, had remains of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age remains. Artifacts included many weapon and tool heads, shards of pottery and bone tools. Extensive galleries going into the earth beyond the first digs were explored in the 1970s. Location (lat, long): 44.2721, 4.4076
The Extevan Grotto of Montclus was the scene of excitement in the summer of 2011. Three friends went spelunking into the grotto, and had the sense to tell their families where they were going. When they hadn't returned by the next day, search and rescue spelunker teams went in after them. They were eventually found, trapped but safe, and extracted over the next few hours. The had gone in without any special equipment: no ropes, helmets or anything else, and their only light was one candle. Their rescue distorted Darwinism.
History of Montclus Gard
First record, 1275 Castrum Montecluso: first mention of the Montclus chateau
Prehistoric: Prehistoric artifacts were discovered here in 1957 during archeological digs near the village. Many of the artifacts and other signs of ancient habitation were in grottos, later explored by local spelunkers.
Medieval: The abbey of Mons Serratus was founded here in 1263. Some remnants of an ancient troglodyte Benedictine Abbey, including a large cavern carved out of the rock, are located at "Les Beaumes", 900 m northeast of the village at a bend on the north side of the river Cèze. This served as a troglodyte chapel for the Knights Templars in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The castle in the center of the village was built in 1275, but little remains of it but the tall, square donjon tower.
• GPS: 44.261014, 4.419824
IGN (1/25,000) #2940 OT "Bagnols-sur-Cèze, Pont-St-Exprit, Forets de Valbonne et"
"Entre Cèze et Ardèche", map+info (1:30'000)
There are many excellent hiking trails on both sides of the Cèze, both upstream and downstream from Montclus.
The Dent du Serret is a 5.7 km (1h30) hike west of the village, partly a loop, to a lookout point just south of the river.
The Sentier de Marnade is 7.7 km (2h15) loop hike southeast from the village, after crossing the bridge to the west side of the river. This trail follows the right bank of the Cèze past the Mas de Sabin, loops north and south again to the Roc de l'Aigille, The trail then crosses the hills west-northwest to re-pass Mas de Sabin and return to the village.
Transportation Montclus Gard
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).