The village of Castries is especially well known for its 17th century Château. Surrounded by magnificent French style gardens designed by Le Nôtre, landscape designer to Louis XIV, it was soon nicknamed ‘the little Languedoc Versailles’. Passing through the main courtyard one reaches the imposing terraces which give a superb view of the star shaped pathways, the ponds and vine covered countryside. There are guided visits of the grounds for groups by appointment throughout the year. The grounds can be opened by special arrangement for individuals during summer school holidays, and for European Heritage Days in September. But Castries is also famous for its aqueduct. It is quite unique of its type since it’s the largest hydraulic work ever constructed for an individual in France. At 6822 metres long, it was carried out at the initiative of Le Nôtre who called on Pierre-Paul Riquet, the engineer responsible for the Canal du Midi, to arrange for water to be available in the chateau’s grounds.
- Office de Tourisme de Castries
- Tel. : + 33 (0)4 99 74 01 77
This adorable village situated in the Gard department has a great history which is reflected in the village itself and the many activities both inhabitants and visitors may enjoy. It’s well known for its medieval centre and fêtes as well as for its château, which is classified as a Gard Historic monument. All through the summer this castle is the site for events based on daily life in the Middle Ages : defence, stone cutting, games and puzzles for the young.
- Office de Tourisme
- Tel. : +33(0)4 66 80 99 30
Just 12 kilometres north of Montpellier, this listed historic monument is one of the splendid 18th century ‘follies’ around that city. The Chateau is high on a hill overlooking a small Languedoc village. From its esplanade there’s a great view, especially over the Mediterranean. There are still the remains of a feudal castle over which it was built: round towers, a rampart and dovecote, the dungeon … It design and lovely clean lines are attributed to the architect Giral, who brought into play outstanding elements recovered from the demolished chateau de la Mosson : iron work, woodwork nowadays replaced, a great crystal chandelier. Access to the château is via two orangeries which date back to the Renaissance. The ground floor, which leads to two glorious French style gardens to the west, is made up of a number of reception rooms surrounding the great oval music camber decorated by canvasses painted by Lajoue. Also on display is a collection of keyboard instruments, notably an outstanding 18th century French harpsichord which features in many recordings. Adjoining the main house is an outstanding Romanesque listed church built on the site of the chapel serving the original medieval castle and whose many features include a superb entrance portal.
Romanesque chapel of Saint Julien de Montredon at Salinelles
This religious edifice was deemed unsafe in 1872 and remained without visitors for a hundred years. Then restoration work started and, encouraged by great media attention, visitors started returning. Guided tours enlivened by splendidly riveting details encouraged many more, and this historic monument has become a true site for remembering Romanesque art thanks partly to its varied, complex architecture, partly to its history in this captivating region.
- Chapelle Romane St Julien de Montredon
- Tél. : +33(0)4 66 80 99 30
Château de Villevieille
The château has been open to the public since 1968. Visitors will revel as they move between the medieval towers and the dovecote and enjoy the floral aromas of the main courtyard. It’s a dream for those who look back nostalgically at medieval times whilst historians will enjoy meandering round this remarkable example of Renaissance architecture.
- Château de Villevieille
- Tel. : +33(0)6 70 61 81 49
Abbey of Saint-Geniès-des-Mourgues
A monastery was the first to be built here between 1019 and 1025 using stones from Cherlieu, the name given to Saint Géniès at the time. The church backing onto the monastery was destroyed by the Duke of Rohan’s protestant supporters then, restored after 1636, its present form was reached in 1677 and it ascended to being an Abbey in 1736. The clock tower which had been demolished by the Huguenots was restored in 1841, then lifted a further 15 metres so as to house a great bell.
Château and church of Saint-Drézéry
Although only a few kilometres from Montpellier, Saint-Drézéry has managed to cling onto the character of a true Languedoc country village. The unspoilt land gives out the subtle aromas which are reflected in its wine or its honey. The Languedoc cross is dotted all round the historic centre, whilst the Nicolas Greschny frescos decorate the church; its chateau at the heart of a park is a true haven of greenery. As he walks around the visitor can become a true rambler along the myriad pathways.