Lani – Kona, Hawaii
September 26. 2014
Today Clara, Ali (her husband) and I visited Saint Guilhem le Désert Hérault in English they call it “The Grand site” of France.
The site is situated at the heart of a remarkable landscapes; set between the hills of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, the Hérault gorges and the Piemont of Languedoc. This is a vast sun-drenched landscape of vineyards with the river Hérault winding through it. The groove the river has created over a millennia and which continues up to the “Pont du Diable” (11th century bridge), offers visitors a rugged landscapes with gorges that frame the medieval town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert and the Clamouse cave.
It is in the heart of this ancient landscape, sculpted by the river Hérault between forest and scrubland, that Saint Guilhem came to pray and meditate at the Combe de Gellone and where he founded Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, nearly 1200 years ago. The site became a meeting place in medieval times with the establishment of the Saint James pilgrim’s route to Santiago de Compostela.
This “Grand site of France” is a place of Revitalizing and of awakening spirituality.
(1) The “Pont du Diable” = Devil’s Bridge
The story behind the Devil’s Bridge.
Built between 1028 and 1031 by the Abbeys of Aniane and Gellone which controlled both banks of the Hérault river, the Pont du Diable is one of the oldest bridges existing in France. It is typical of the Lombardic style, testifying to the introduction of early Romanesque art in the region. 15 meters high and approximately 50 meters long it consist of two main arches in full round and two secondary opening called “hearing” to facilitate the flow of water in flood periods.
The bridge, in 1998 was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the French section of the Santiago de Compostela Way.
(2) looking down from the bridge, it’s rugged gorge with deep blue water in it
Pictures taken in different angle, it was so beautiful.
We kept on going after stopping to take pictures. We arrived at the village of alley and stopped to have lunch. To me, it was a very unique French restaurant even though the decorations were nothing fancy. The wood table, chairs, even the table cloth looked old.
(3) This is the restaurant where we had lunch
I think I was fortunate, because I had such good guides; Clara and her husband. Everything was in French which I don’t understand. So basically they translated the menu and everything for me. Thank you so much for helping me. When I asked them, why they chose this restaurant, the answered: it’s a good place with delicious food. I thought, well, I will just have to believe them. I had fish on a skewer, like kebab, and salad. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of the food only the dessert.
As you can see,
(4) in the back, is a chocolate mousse, on the right side some kind of chocolate muffin with ice cream and on front is flan sprinkle with syrup
The white stuff I believe that was whip cream. We did enjoy the dessert with cappuccino. All of it was so delicious. After we finished lunch, we walked around the back of the restaurant so we could see the Hérault river.
(5) isn’t that gorgeous?
(6) that was me
We continued walking along the village of the alley.
This is the story behind the village. Built on the left bank of the river Verdus, the village possesses a single street and features Romanesque windows, the frames of which reveal the medieval identity of the building. Beautiful thistles called “cardabelle” hang on the doors to warm of impending rain by closing their hearts. From the medieval square, where an impressive plane tree planted in 1855 displays its generous foliage you can choose from several paths that lead to the “circus of the world” with its steep cliffs and to the Saint Guilhem mounts which shelter a rare arboreal species the Salzmann pine. The Saint Laurent church (late 11th to early 12th century) the prison tower (12 century) and of course the Giant’s castle, also bear witness to the rich history of the village.
These pictures were taken around the village. It’s very good exercise walking along these village paths, some of the alley were so steep.
These are some pictures which were taken from the village alley.
(7) tourists enjoyed walking along the alley
(8) some are regular houses, with stores down below
(9) you can see a gallery
(10) a house with steep stairs (City Hall of Saint Guilhem le Desert)
(11) one alley with many stairs going up
(12) I spotted a black & white cat, he looked angry!
(13) a restaurant in the alley
(14) taking rest in between the alley, that was somebody house
(15) in action in the alley
(16) it was a walk way in the alley, look old and rusty, it was unique
(17) houses where people living in the village alley
(18) one of the toy shop in the alley
(19) in front of the garden somebody’s house
(20) more houses
(21) beautiful old church in the village alley
To be continued…