adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Day Trip: St. Guilhem-le-Désert

For our final excursion with Devon, we took her to one of my favorite nearby villages, St. Guilhem-le-Désert. This beautiful, medieval village is situated along the Hérault River and is surrounded by gorges,  mountains, and the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage trail.  There are so many fun, outdoorsy activities to do in this area like hiking, kayaking, climbing, biking, etc.  Last summer I went on a 12 km kayak trip with a few friends and we had an absolute blast.  I was in a slightly different condition this year, being 7 months pregnant at the time, but we still managed to do a short hike to show Devon some of the amazing views.

The town also boasts the Abbaye de Gellone, which was founded in 804 and then reconstructed in the 11th-century.  You can find the cloisters in the back of the Abbaye, which is where the monks lived.  Today, part of the cloisters (which were dismantled during the French Revolution) can be found in The Cloisters Museum in NYC.

After our Abbaye tour, we winded around the quaint, little side streets of town, doing some shopping and stopping for some truly amazing gelato.  I had one scoop of Lemon and one scoop of Raspberry-Cranberry-Hibiscus.  Devon had one scoop of Mango and one scoop of Jasmine, and Michael had one scoop of Passion Fruit-Banana-Lime-Mango and one scoop of Caramelized Cinnamon Apple.  Whew!  This gelato place did not mess around!

After we'd had our fill of town, we headed a few miles back down the road to visit the Grotte di Clamouse, a living cave that was carved out of an underground river and finally discovered in 1945.  We took the hour long, guided tour (with audio in English) and traversed through the sprawling cave, and up and down a LOT of stairs.  Needless to say, I was bringing up the rear of the group, but I made it!  It was really cool to see all the different formations, stalactites, stalagmites, straws, draperies, and pillars. Touring the cave is something we've talked about doing since last summer, so I was really excited that we got to check it out.  The cave has an interesting history, and you can read about the legend here.

We made one last stop after the Clamouse - a quick hike to the banks of the Hérault river to admire the Pont du Diable, or Devil's Bridge.  This historical monument was originally constructed in 1030 by Benedictine monks to connect the Abbaye de Gellone to the Abbaye de Aniane.  Today it also serves as an entrance to the beautiful gorges of the Hérault valley.  The best view of the bridge can be seen from the swimming holes near the base. After that, it was time to call it a day.  I'm so glad we got to show Devon this beautiful part of the south of France - one of my favorite day trips from Montpellier!

8 Responses to “Day Trip: St. Guilhem-le-Désert”

  1. Jillian says:

    gorgeous pics!!

  2. Sabbio says:

    Places my little family likes very much too :) My husband and my children went to visit les Grottes des Demoiselles two weeks ago.

  3. Amazing photos! Oh goodness! And those caves would be life changing for me. So incredible!

    • Natalie says:

      Thank you! The caves were VERY cool, the pictures do not do it justice – I was so glad we finally made it there!

    • Mickey says:

      betul mbak isk lebih baik kalo bisa menulis dan menyampaikan hal rumit scara sea#ahdnr&e8230; salam hangat^_^Ya, yang bisa ditulis dengan sederhana, jangan dibuat susah. Apalagi yang susah, alangkah lebih baiknya disederhanakan.

  4. Devon says:

    That gelato was to DIE for! Nothing else will ever compare. I had no idea that the cloisters in NY had a connection. Love that. And love you, girl. xoxo

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