Gard (30360) Population: 1,726 Altitude: 110 m
Vézénobres is a very lovely Medieval perched village south of Alès in the Gard department. The village is full of narrow cobblestone streets, ancient and interesting houses, vaulted passages, stone walls and a tall clock tower.
The village streets are layed out in concentric arcs across the south flank of the hill, below the site of the old castle.
Vézénobres is not listed as one of the "most beautiful village of France", but in our opinion it could quite well qualify. The whole village is well restored but not to the point of being "cute", as we've seen other places all too much.
There was once a chateau on the top of the village hill, but that's long gone except for some low walls. There is an observation table at the top, pointing out the surrounding sites. The view from the top is nice, but there's nothing really spectacular to see from there.
Many of the tighly-packed, stone houses below the chateau ruins date from the 12th to 14th centuries, a time when the village was very active.
There are almost no shops at all in the center of the old village, but it does have a life. It seems to be a place were people actually live rather that just visit, although it's no doubt a bit quiteter in the winter. We stopped to chat with a man working in front of his garage, and were invited in to discover a miniature farm hidden behind the stone walls of the village street.
Beneath the town hall (hotel de ville) of Vézénobres is a long vaulted passage called the Rue du Porche. (The GR hiking trail, with its red-white marks, passes through here.) The first arched tunnel passes through an open area before passing through a shorter vaulted passage. The open area between, surrounded by high walls, has arched glass panels high above, something we've never seen before. It should be an interesting place during a rain storm.
A few hundred meters to the east of the old village is a smaller old village. This is mainly just one long, narrow and picturesque street, Rue Bas (Lower Street), lined with old houses.
At the far eastern end of the lower village, at the end of Rue Bas, the road passes between the village houses and a privately owned chateau set in a 17-hectare park. On the village side of the road are two high "false-front" walls that look like they were once facades of some high chateau.
The road here, called Le Village, passes through a short tunnel that's beneath a part of the Chateau grounds, and there's a very interesting facade over the end of this tunnel.
The commerce for Vézénobres is southeast of the center, on the Rue Condamine leading down to the D936 road, where it passes in front of the wine cooperative. The commerce consists of a pharmacy, butcher, baker, grocery store and a couple of hair dressers. There's also a restaurant-pizzeria just beside the wine cooperative, Le Bon Accueil.
There's a restaurant and a good terrace café in the center of the old village, and a little bit of commerce on the lower outskirts.
Saint André Church
At the upper end of Rue Bas is the Saint André church, built in 1715 and replacing the earlier village church destroyed during the Wars of Religion.
The 16th-century Hotel de Montfaucon (a hotel Hotel Particulaire), also called the Adam and Eve house, is on the Rue Bas in the lower village of Vézénobres.
It was built in 1574 by the Baronnesse Françoise de Montfaucon, Countess of Vézénobres.
Sundials (Cadrans Solaires)
We found two sundials in Vézénobres. The most interesting is an oval design painted on the ancient presbytery (chancel), in the lower village. The style is similar to other 18th-century sundials we've seen.
A more obvious sundial is the one on a plaque in the main square in the center of the village.
Chateau de Calvières
The Calvières Chateau is a 15th-century feudal castle set in a walled park at the east end of Vézénobres, separated from the Lower Village by the road (Le Village). The chateau, thoroughly renovated in the 18th century, is private, non-visitable and pretty much not-visible.
Vézénobres was celebrated nationally for its fig production in the Middle Ages. More recently, 800 fig trees were replanted on the terraced hilllsides, and the village is now renowned for its 100 varieties of dried figs (figues sèches).
An annual Fig Festival (Les Journées Méditerranéennes de la figue) is held the last weekend of October, although in 2013 is was on the last weekend of September.
In late December of every year a comedic Frozen Fig race and celebration (Corrida Figue Givrée) is held in the village.
History of Vézénobres
Gallo-Roman: Vézénobres was one of 24 Roman fortified villages built to protect Nîmes. There are many Roman inscriptions at the Chateau de Calvières.
Medieval: The village was heavily involved in the Wars of Religion.
Vézénobres is on the Chemin de Regordane (Voie Regordane), an ancient Pilgrims route (dating from 843) linking the Ile-de-France (Paris region) down the eastern part of the kingdom to the port of Saint Gilles, beside the Camargue. The route has been reestablished as the GR700 hiking trail.
Oct - Figs Festival - Les Journées Méditerranéennes de la figue
Dec (Late) - Frozen Fig race and celebration (Corrida Figue Givrée)
Dec (week preceding Christmas) - La Route des Crèches - Santons displays throughout the village
• GPS: 44.052407, 4.13701
Vézénobres is perched on a hill 1 km north of the Gardon, and the GR6 Hiking Trail loops up from the river to pass through the center of the village.
West of Vézénobres the GR6 goes upstream to Anduze in into the Cévennes national forest.
The GR700 hiking trail (Chemin de Regordane) between St Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) and Saint Gilles (Gard) on the edge of the Camargue passes through Vézénobres.
North of Vézénobres the GR700 goes via St Hilaire-de-Brethmas, Alès and La Vernarède to Chamborigaud (Gard) and points north.
South of Vézénobres the GR700 joins with and follows the GR6 to Saint Anastasie/Russan, then branches south, via La Calmette and Nîmes to St Gilles.
Just a few minutes west of the village is the N106, a limited access highway between Alès and Nîmes. This makes Alès just over 10 minutes away and Nîmes 30 minutes. A leisurly cross-country drive between Vézénobres and Uzès is about 40 minutes.
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).