The village of Saint Jean du Gard, the “Pearl of the Cévennes“, is situated 9km from Anduze and 15km from Alès, at the foot of the ridges of the Cévennes.
With a very pretty covered market, many shops and two museums (soon to be one, the Museum of the Cévenoles Valley will be transferred to the Maison Rouge in spring 2016), it is the ideal place from which to discover the Cévennes and its way of life.
A walk in the village of Saint- Jean du Gard
Strolling its streets, which are quite lively in summer, you can admire the Tour de l'Horloge, a former 12th century clock tower, the last vestige of the Romanesque church built by the Benedictines of St Gilles in the 1100s and destroyed in 1560 during the Wars of Religion.
The bridge on the Gardon de Saint-Jean
Strongly influenced by Protestantism, St Jean du Gard was a centre of Camisard resistance following the revoking of the Edict of Nantes. This resistance lasted practically three years, pitting the 5,000 Camisards against 35,000 of the king's dragons, with the remembrance of this violence remaining in the collective memory of the people of the Cevennes.
On the street Rue des Paillons you can still see the ruins of the more than 5-metre high fortifications that were built in 1703 to prevent the Camisards from communicating with the population. One of the three entrance gates can still be seen at the Château of St Jean du Gard.
The silk industry strongly marked the urban landscape of the Cévennes and St-Jean-du-Gard could count 21 spinning mills during its most prosperous period.
The spinning mill of the Maison Rouge is one of the most beautiful example with its monumental double stairway and its huge windows characteristic of such mills, which required optimal lighting. In 1965, it was the last spinning mill in France to close down.
There are many outdoor activities to enjoy in the area,
Go to Thoiras (8km from St Jean du Gard) where the Maison de la Randonnée et des Activités de Pleine Nature, a network of professionals, can suggest and organize more than sixty different activities around rich and varied themes: hiking, mountain biking, treetop adventure, horseback riding, aquatic sports, rock-climbing, falconry, paragliding, bungie jumping, via-ferrata, fishing, etc.
To see in the area of Saint-Jean-du-Gard
The Steam train of the Cévennes stops at Saint Jean du Gard and then leads you to Anduze. A stopoff in Générargues will let you visit the famous Prafrance bamboo plantation.
From Générargues head to Mialet, a small hamlet of the Cévennes in the “Valley of the Camisards” where you can appreciate the peace and the beauty of the landscapes. A stop at the Mas Soubeyran, which houses the Musée du Désert museum will plunge you into the history of the Camisards and of Protestantism in the Cévennes.
You can also visit the Trabuc cave and the Bonsaï botanical garden or cool off with a swim in the Gardon and admire the “Camisards bridge” listed as a historic monument.
In the hamlet of Luziers, Natur'Anes puts at your disposal donkeys for your excursions and treks.
With its 5000 kilometres of marked trails, the Cévennes National Park invites you to come discover and admire its breathtaking landscapes.