Gard (30270) Population: 2,441 Altitude: 189 m
This small town at the edge of the Cévennes National Park area was the end point of Robert Lewis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. Saint Jean-du-Gard has a weekly market, a summertime steam train, and is in a beautiful area for hiking, outdoor sports and relaxation. Market day Sat.
We like Saint Jean-du-Gard as a location for visiting this part of the Cévennes and the Cévennes National Park. The town has a choice of hotels, restaurants, cafés and a fair selection of shops, and is much calmer that the larger town of Alès in the summertime.
It's an ideal spot for day trips throughout the forests and hills of the Cévennes, and there are many "fun" sites nearby. Saint Jean-du-Gard sits beside the river Gardon, and has a picturesque multi-arched stone bridge at the north edge of town [Photo-01].
Robert Lewis Stevenson isn't "from" Saint Jean-du-Gard, but he ended his famous Travels With a Donkey here in 1878 and the town still honors him, with plaques, fountains and marketing tie-ins for cafés, hotels and shops.
History of Saint Jean-du-Gard
Monks from the Abbey of St-Gilles established a site here on the banks of the Gardon in the 12th century. A town named Saint Jean-du-Gardonnenque formed around the original church and priory.
The population adopted the Reform church in the 16th century, and suffered persecution during the Wars of Religion. The Cévennes was a Protestant region, and this area suffered severely during the Camisard War, 1702-06.
Saint Jean-du-Gard prospered in the 19th century from grain and the textile industry.
Celto-Ligurian: Remains of an oppidum were located on the hilltop at Sueille, 2 km northeast.
Market day: Sat.
• GPS: 44.105596, 3.884926
IGN (1/25,000) #2741 ET "St Hyppollyte-du-Fort, Anduze, St-Jean-du-Gard"
There's great hiking at Saint Jean-du-Gard, and in this entire region of the Cévennes. The trails are through forests and hills, very shaded and with some stunning views now and again.
Directly from town, the GR70 (Grande Randonnée) goes north, over the Col de St-Pierre (601 m), to Saint Etienne-Vallée-Française, Saint Germain-de-Calberte, and further to the northwest. This trail is called the Chemin de Stevenson and follows more-or-less the route of Robert Lewis Stevenson's Travels With a Donkey.
The GR61 goes southwest and west from Saint Jean-du-Gard, passing Mont Brion and following the Vallée Borgne, eventually crossing paths with the GR63, GR67 and GR6 Hiking Trail.
To the east the GR61 crosses the Camisards bridge at Mialet and joins with the GR67. Southeast the trails follow the Gardon river to Anduze. To the north the GR61 joins the GR44D, GR67 and other trails in the vast forests there.
Other shorter loop hikes are available in different directions from the town.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Steam Train of the Cévennes
This 40-minute steam train between Saint Jean-du-Gard and Anduze follows the magnificent forested valleys for 13 km along the Gardon river in the heart of the Cévennes.
• Open: March: selected days; April-early Sept: daily; Sept to beginning Nov: daily except Monday. 3-4 trains a day. Check with their website (below) for details.
• Entry: €9 one-way; €12 round-trip; dogs and bicycles €3.
• Tel: 0466 605 900; Fax: 0466 605 909
• Web: www.trainavapeur.com
• Train schedules allow an easy round-trip voyage, or with stops of a few hours or even all day in either Saint Jean-du-Gard or Anduze.
Special event trains every year: Wine Harvest in Sept; Chestnut day in Oct; Halloween Weekend; Fireworks night train 13 July, etc.
Cévenoles Valley Museum - Musée des Vallée Cévenoles de St-Jean-du-Gard
From chestnuts to silk. Located in a 17th-century inn, the museum is dedicated to people's arts and traditions, and deals with the history and the Cevenol Culture. Important to the development was the chestnut tree an silkworm breeding.
Location: 95 Grand-Rue
Open: July-Aug: daily, 10h-19h; Apr-Oct: daily, 10h-12h, 14h-19h;
Nov-Mar: Tue, Thur 9h-12h, 14h-18h; Sun 14h-18
Tel: 0466 851 048; Fax: 0466 851 361
Transportation Saint Jean-du-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).