Gard (30200) Population: 174 Altitude: 132 m
La Roque-sur-Cèze is a very picturesque village perched on a rocky peak (la roque) and rather isolated in the woods, northwest of Orange. It overlooks the Cèze river, where the only road crosses a long, single-lane 12th-century bridge with 12 arches.
As attractive as the village is, it's quite lifeless, without much of a feeling of people actually living there. Still, it's popular for tourists, and definitely worth a visit.
La Roque-sur-Cèze is one of the Most Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages) of France.
La Roque-sur-Cèze village is all stone, with cobblestone streets, lined with stone walls and stone-sided houses. There are stone vaulted passages and the village church is all stone, although in nice, neatly carved blocks. Only the town hall (mairie) stands apart, with smooth walls colored a Provencal ocre, in the classical old French style.
For visiting the village, there's a shady parking below, beside the river. You would then walk up into the village, wandering up through the narrow and steadily climbing streets up to the top, the site of the old castle and it's large chapel.
The old village has no commerce and no café, thus no village "center". There is a small crêperie (pancake place) in the village, just above the church. Higher in the village we found tables and chairs sitting out beneath lovely shade trees, at the auberge "Bistro de la Roque". Unfortunately it was closed, mid-morning in June, with no indication it would ever be open.
There are a couple of good restaurants just outside the village. Cross the bridge and turn left (north). see below
Parking. The only place to park is the parking area at the bottom of the village. It's a roomy area, with large shade trees. However, in July and August it costs 4 euros to park – the price for visiting the village.
Chateau de la Roque-sur-Cèze
At the highest point above the village sits an old castle and chapel. The castle was built in the 12th century. It was burned in 1573 by the Hugenots and abandoned at the end of the 19th century. The chateau is now privately owned and can't be visited, 'though it is a nice walk up to its location.
At one end of the old chateau is a large Romanesque chapel, in very good condition. You can walk around to a lookout site in the trees with a nice view up to the chapel. The chapel was sold by the commune in 1955.
Arched 12th Century Bridge
The D166 road that passes by La Roque-sur-Cèze village crosses the Cèze river over a long and very narrow bridge built in the 12th century. It's a beautiful bridge, with 12 stone arches, and in a very lovely setting. Because of the bridge's extreme lack of width, a traffic light system is set up to control single direction traffic. Traffic isn't very heavy out here, and the beautiful setting makes waiting a couple of minutes a pleasure.
Locally it is called the Pont Charles Martel. We've found references that suggests that this name is incorrect. It's difficult to understand why the name of a bridge isn't really the name of the bridge; however, Charles Martel (690-741) was never connected in any way to La Roque-sur-Cèze.
The floods of 2002, quite famous in the area, damaged the bridge, and it appears that it hasn't yet been completely repaired. But it is fully functional.
The Cascades du Sautadet are a set of low waterfalls carved through solid rock, just a few minutes walk from the village.
History of La Roque-sur-Cèze
The derivation of the name is obvious, with the village perched on a rock overlooking the Cèze river. The village was probably built in its defensive position in the Middle Ages, beginning with the castle in the 12th century.
The upper part of the village had fallen into ruin by the 1950's, and was completely rebuilt in 1955-1960.
Gallo-Roman: There were signs of Roman occupation here, but no remains are to be seen today.
Medieval: The Bishop of Uzès ruled the village in 1790.
• GPS: 44.193805, 4.520355
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)
Transportation La Roque-sur-Cèze
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).