Gard (30700) Population: 388 Altitude: 141 m
The little village of Vallabrix sits along a low ridge by the Alzon river, ortheast of Uzès and St Quentin-la-Poterie. The village has an Romanesque chateau, that's in the form of a grand manor house, tucked into a wooded estate at the south edge of town. It's private, un-visitable, and largely invisible. There is a view of the chateau from a walking trail on the south side of the village.
No village café, no commerce.
The Vallabrix village church is sits out in an open square, Place de l'Eglise, and has an unusual round bell tower with a small wrought-iron campanile.
An ancient medieval fortress once sat in the middle of the village. What remains has been converted to the municipal library (bibliothèque municipal), but a very ornate Renaissance facade is still in place. You can enter the courtyard to view the wall with bas-relief carvings.
The Vallabrix lavoir is a very nice covered and walled washhouse located down in the southeast corner of the village, below the church where a path leads out towards rural garden plots.
According to elderly lady at the lavoir:, her mother used to wash there, her sister washed there and she washed there, until washing machines were created, at which time she bought one.
The water of the lavoir comes from a spring (source), never freezes, and in winter its relatively warm enough to give off vapor (warmer than the air) and even kept their hands from getting too cold when they washed clothes in the winter. Because it's spring water, it's very clear and pure, without "calcaire"; therefore the water is very good for washing wool sweaters.
We found an old, rusty skeleton key in a leaf-filled trench beside the lavoir, which seemed to be appropriate for an old door there; placed in on the stoop, of course. Then, an old man happened by, looking for a key. But he had lost the key to his house, which the lady said he did regularly.
History of Vallabrix
Origin of the name. The most colorful theory is that Vallabrix came from the 19th century, meaning "Vallée des Brigands", from a written complaint of 1815 at Uzès. More likely, though, is a derivation of Volo Briga, a Gauloise-Volque hilltop oppidum 1 km southeast of the current village, now called Brugas. Briga is a Gaulois word for fortified height (e.g. oppidum). The current name Brugas is Occitan for a height planted with bruyères (tree heath), which is true here.
• GPS: 44.060291, 4.477507
IGN (1/25,000) #2941 OT "Uzès"
"Collines et Vignobles autour d'Uzès", map+info (1:30'000)
La Croix du Clos d'Ozon is a short 4 km hike (yellow marks). It goes south past the lavoir, southeast past the Gordiole quarry to "Le Valadas", then north back to the edge of the village. There's a short loop west to the Croix du Clos d'Ozon, then east along the northern edge of the village and back to the center.
Slightly longer hikes are marked (yellow) for visiting the adjacent villages:
Masmolène is 6.5 km east.
St Victor-des-Oules is 4 km south, with St-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu another 1 km, over the hill.
A loop of Vallabrix, Masmolène, St Victor-des-Oules, St-Hippolyte-de-Montaigu, Vallabrix is about 15 km, with some variants possible.
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).