natural sanctuary where the Atlantic and Mediterranean climates rub shoulders, the Valleys of the
Orb and the Jaur are an ideal spot for those who wish to appreciate the distinctive flavour of the
From the mountain steeps, ideal for ramblers, to the vine-growing valleys, the varied landscape
offers a dramatic backdrop to the warm welcome offered by the locals, justly proud of their agricultural
traditions. Enjoy the sun, the wines and the fruit which are a true reflection of the warmth and vitality
of the region.
THE VALLEY OF THE ORB
The river Orb rises in the commune of Roqueronde and runs for 136km through mountains and plains before
rejoining the sea, beyond Béziers, in the vicinity of the seaside-resort of Valras. Between Vieussan
and Roquebrun the river is at its fullest, having traced a route through the mountains, re-shaping them
over the years into steep gorges. The clear refreshing water of the river between Colombières and Roquebrun
is a particular favourite of kayakers while swimming is also popular in the calmer stretches.
This superb mountain is the pride of the Hauts-Cantons. Rising to a height of 1091 metres,
it can be seen, when weather permits, from the coast. From St Martin de lArçon, the
view is breath-taking: the majestic silhouette of the Caroux dominates the entire valley.
With luck you will have the pleasure of observing the birds of prey and the mouflons
(small mountain sheep) which are abundant in the region. From Mons La Trivalle, towards the
Gorges dHéric, a well-tended footpath leads up to the hamlet of Héric
itself, unless you prefer to venture up along one of the many wilder mountain-paths.
The Caroux also marks the border between Atlantic and Mediterranean vegetation. It is not uncommon to find
a holm oak growing beside a beech, although the two species are typical, respectively, of the two different
THE VALLEY OF THE JAUR
The river Jaur has its mysterious source in the heart of the town of Saint-Pons de Thomières itself.
Thereafter it runs (along the N112 between Saint-Pons and Bédarieux) to join the Orb just after the
medieval village of Olargues. This region between Saint-Pons and Bédarieux is known as the Hauts-Cantons.
Approaching from the Saint-Ponais, along the river, one arrives at the village of PREMIAN:
This peaceful village was the scene of many celebrated exploits during the Second World War,
having formed something of a centre for the local "maquis". From the village, there is a signposted
walk up into the mountains revisiting the scenes associated with this eventful period.
The church of the Caminade is a listed building whose foundations date from the tenth century.
SAINT-ETIENNE DALBAGNAN reflects the development of arboriculture in the Hauts-Cantons.
The road between here and Olargues is a mass of white flower in cherry-time in the spring while in the
summer it is ablaze with ripening fruit. Previously it was also a major centre for the "chàtaignerie"
(the famous "marron d'Olargues"). Though the chestnut is sadly no longer the important staple crop it used
once to be, the region retains a high reputation for its maintenance of popular rural tradition.
The commune regularly welcomes pilgrims to Notre Dame de Trédos (Whit Monday (Pentecôte) and the 1st
Sunday in September).
OLARGUES, a delightful
medieval burgh and a listed site, entirely lives up to its official designation as one of the most beautiful
villages in France. Perched high on a rock, with he river Jaur flowing generously around it, the village is reached
by various small bridges, of which the most famous is incontestably the Pont du Diable (Devil's Bridge). Dating from
the thirteenth century, it is the subject of many a colourful legend. The twelfth-century bell-tower that surmounts
the village once formed part of an ancient Roman fort. Yet there are many traces to be found here of a past more ancient
still, with archaeological remains from Neolithic times. Mounting the village via narrow cobbled alleyways one comes to
the "escalier de la Commanderie", steps leading to the fourteenth-century church of Saint Laurent and to the remains
of the old medieval ramparts.
At this point one can leave the Jaur valley to explore the chestnut-groves of the
south face of the Somail.
SAINT VINCENT DOLARGUES is the birthplace of the Général des Chartreux (religious order), Don Ferdinand Vidal.
The commune is characterised by a plethora of small hamlets, hidden away amongst the folds of the hillside valleys, such as Le Cros,
Violgues, Le Mas du Gua etc...
MONS LA TRIVALLE AND THE GORGES DHERIC
Mons la Trivalle, famous for its outstanding views and for the superb quality of its light, has become a favourite
spots for artists, both local painters and those from further afield. It is also the starting-point for walkers wishing to embark upon the adventure of a visit
to the fabulous Gorges d'Héric, one of the principal natural wonders of the region.
Returning to the Orb valley, one comes to COLOMBIERES SUR ORB. To judge from the
numerous historical remains, this was a popular place of passage in Roman times. The altar
from a "fanum" (Gallo-Roman shrine) has also been found here. The square tower, the remains
of an eleventh-century castle and the sixteenth-century chateau that replaced it are the point of
departure for numerous walks and rambles.
Nestling at the foot of the Caroux, SAINT MARTIN DE LARÇON
is the very image of a typical mountain-village. Its old houses are in typical cévenole style,
with gardens encircled by small stone walls while the church retains its original slate roof of
lauze (a kind of local slate).
One needs to look up to see the village of VIEUSSAN,
perched high up on the mountainside, a situation that doubtless originally responded to strategic
needs - protection for the site and a clear view over the surrounding countryside. It is an ideal
spot for the curious walker with its maze of little alleyways, arches and cobblestones.
The "little Nice" of the Hauts-Cantons benefits from an exceptional natural position and a particularly
clement climate. At ROQUEBRUN one finds an
abundance of mimosas et orange-trees along the banks of the river Orb. This very Mediterranean vegetation
can best be appreciated by a visit to the "jardin méditerranéen", a fabulous collection
of aromatic and medicinal plants. The seventeenth-century church, formerly the chapel of the chateau, and
the ruins of the old medieval tower recall the fact that the site was once fortified. This is also wine
country. The AOC (appellation contrôlée) Saint-Chinian de Roquebrun
is generally reckoned to be one of the finest in the region as is that of neighbouring
BERLOU where co-operative viniculture has produced a wine that has graced the most
discerning tables in France. Surmounted by the Château des Albières (1635) which
once served as a refuge for ships in distress, Berlou is also an excellent spot for walking
INFORMATION BERLOU 04 67 89 58 16 ROQUEBRUN 04 67 89 64 54 http://roquebrun.ctw.cc COLOMBIERES SUR ORB 04 67 95 64 46 ST ETIENNE DALBAGNAN 04 67 97 02 26 FERRIERES POUSSAROU 04 67 38 02 81 ST MARTIN DE LARçON 04 67 95 69 89 MONS LA TRIVALLE 04 67
OLARGUES 04 67 97 70 79 ST VINCENT DOLARGUES 04 67 97 70 03 PREMIAN 04 67 97 06 40 VIEUSSAN 04 67 97 71 14
A veritable oasis of greenery,
Lamalou-les-Bains lies at an altitude of 200 metres. Its health-giving springs result
from fissures in the mineral rock dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. According
to tradition, they were first discovered by a simple peasant suffering from pain
who bathed in the muddy marsh formed by the waters and was gratified to find his sufferings
appreciably alleviated. Nowadays, "thermalism" and functional rehabilitation play an important
role in the life of the town along with "pleine nature" tourism associated with the
mountains of the Caroux and the Espinouse and the many leisure-facilities.
There are more than fifteen different springs
to be found along the geological fault that crosses the valley. They are a rich mineral
cocktail of bicarbonates, calcium, sodium, iron, rich in magnesium and potassium and
containing carbonated gas. A secondary ferro-arsenical mineralisation also characterises
the majority of the springs to varying extents. Some are diverted into thermal bathing-pools
while others run freely. Three of them also have buvettes where the water can be
- THE USCLADE (52° at the tap): Good for problems relating to the liver and the digestive
system with cholagogue and choleretic properties (regulating flow of bile) as well as general
tonic effects due to its salinity.
- THE CAPUS (19° at the tap): Cold ferruginous water, whose main value is in the treatment
of anaemic conditions due to lack of iron.
- THE BOURGÈS (23° at the tap): Cold carbo-gaseous water. It has digestive and diuretic properties
as well as being effective in the reduction of cholesterol. It is also much used as an eau de table.
There is a further spring, LA VERNIÈRE, not open to visitors, whose bottled waters are
generally available for sale in supermarkets and grocery stores.
Naturally gassy, it has a unique flavour and many beneficial tonic effects..
SEE AND VISIT:
- Notre-Dame de lAssomption à Villecelle (17th century)
- La Forêt des Ecrivains combattants
- Notre-Dame de Capimont - Twelfth-century Romanesque chapel
- St Michel de Mercoirol
- Saint Pierre de Rhèdes (end of the 14th century)
6km away - VILLEMAGNE - 14th-century church of St-Majan - 12th-century church of St Grégoire - Remains of
fortifications - Hôtel des Monnaies - Musée archéologique
13km away - SAINT GERVAIS SUR MARE - Musée Arts et Traditions cévenoles - Eglise des
Pénitents (17th century).
15km away - BOUSSAGUES - 14th-century chateau, Maison du Bailli (16th century), 15th-century church.
MUSÉE DE LA CLOCHE ET DE LA SONNAILLE IN HÉRÉPIAN
The museum is devoted to the techniques involved in the fabrication of
cow-bells, small bells and church-bells as well as to their use and to
the interesting symbolism attached to these singular artefacts. On the tour
you will find audio-visual aids, models and sound-animations all aimed at
giving the visitor a better sense of this very special world, whose resounding
pinnacle of achievement is the church-bell.
"La traversée des clochetons" (All along the bell-towers), animation in words
and pictures, "lumière et paroles", the symbolic role of the bell. All designed
to offer the visitor the opportunity to touch, feel and of course ring the various
exhibits. Open all year round (except January) - Tariff 25F and 20F (children). Telephone 04 67 95 39 95
First founded in 1760 in the commune of Nières, this foundry originally made nails
and later cow-bells. Transferring to Castanet-le-Bas, it diversified its activities
to include the making of various types of smaller bell. Finally, in the 20th century,
setting up in Hérépian, it began to specialise in the fabrication of church-bells.
Tours organised in July and August - Out of season by reservation on 04 67 95 07 96.
Golf 9 holes - par 35 - 2760 metres
Green fee 9 holes weekdays: 27/per person - weekend: 30
Green fee 2 rounds (18 holes) weekdays: 30 - weekend: 32
Special price on Tuesdays (1 or 2 rounds): 27
Season-cards by month or year. Telephone 04 67 95 08 47
Arcade - The game of "La Boule".
Restaurant - Piano-bar Open every day Telephone 04 67 95 77 54