Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

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    Le célèbre platane - The famous plane tree.

    by breughel Updated Sep 30, 2013

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    The famous plane tree.

    Before anything else the plane tree at the center of the small square attracts the eye.
    Its greenery serves as umbrella for all tables located at its foot.
    Be careful when you sit because these tables belong to several cafes/restaurants and not just one.
    This plane was planted in 1855. He brought his strength and freshness to the Liberty square. Probably his roots reach an underground course of the river Verdus.
    A plane tree enthusiast has measured its circumference of 612 cm at a height of 130 cm. Its radius is 97 cm at this height of the trunk.
    This tree, which is somehow the symbol of the town, is the subject of loving care because a fungus has attacked one of its branches. I can imagine the drama if the tree had to be cut down because of illness!

    Besides the plane was erected a fountain dating from the Second Empire, topped by the Statue of Liberty.

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    Avant tout autre chose c'est le platane au centre de la petite place qui attire le regard.
    Sa verdure sert de parasol à toutes les tables situées à son pied.
    Faites attention en vous asseyant car ces tables appartiennent à plusieurs cafés/restaurants et non pas à un seul.
    Ce platane a été planté en 1855 il apporte sa force et sa fraîcheur à la place de la Liberté en plongeant ses racines dans le cours souterrain du Verdus.
    Un amateur de platanes a mesuré que sa circonférence était de 612 cm à une hauteur de 130 cm. Son rayon est donc de 97 cm à cette hauteur du tronc.

    Cet arbre, qui est en quelque sorte l'emblème de la commune, fait l’objet de soins attentifs car un champignon a attaqué l'un de ses branches maitresses qui a été haubanée. Je peux m'imaginer le drame si cet arbre devait être abattu pour cause de maladie!

    A côté du platane a été érigé une fontaine datant du Second Empire, surmontée de la statue de la Liberté.

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    The river Verdus.

    by breughel Updated Sep 18, 2013

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    Vaulted passage to river Verdus.

    This medieval village, very well preserved, is built in the Gellone dale along the river Verdus that flows into the Hérault whose narrow gorges are spectacular.
    The village is spread over a length of approximately 800 m north of the Verdus till its junction with the river Hérault at the entrance of the village.
    Gardens are terraced on its banks. At the rue du Bout du Monde (World's End Street !) on the western part of the town one can see a vaulted passage that leads water from the street to the river (photo).

    This small river, brook in places, can be fiery and has several times devastated the surrounding area. In 1817 there was a flood that scattered the relics of Saint Guilhem to the Herault! At the entrance of the church a mark indicates the height of the flood.

    It is said that during another devastating flood in 1907 a donkey tied to the plane at the center of the square was driven by the force of the water inside the abbey, whose doors were open. The donkey was left on the altar at the bottom of the apse and was thus saved from drowning!

    Si non e vero, e bene trovato!
    ===========================

    Ce village médiéval, très bien conservé, est construit dans le Val de Gellone au bord de la rivière du Verdus qui s'écoule dans l'Hérault dont les gorges étroites sont spectaculaires.
    Le village s'étend sur une longueur d'environ 800 m au nord de la petite rivière du Verdus jusqu'à sa jonction avec la rivière Hérault à l'entré Est du village. Les jardins sont étagés sur ses bords. A la rue du Bout du Monde (partie ouest du village) on peut ainsi voir un passage vouté qui conduit l'eau de la rue à la rivière.
    Cette petite rivière, ruisseau par endroits, peut devenir fougueuse et a déjà plusieurs fois dévasté ses abords. En 1817 il y eut une inondation qui dispersa les reliques de Saint Guilhem jusqu'à l'Hérault! A l'entrée de l'église une marque indique la hauteur de la crue.
    Il se raconte que lors d'une autre crue dévastatrice en 1907 un âne qui avait été attaché au platane au centre de la place de la Liberté fut entrainé par la force des eaux à l'intérieur de l'abbaye dont les portes étaient ouvertes. L'âne se retrouva sur le maître autel au fond de l'abside et fut ainsi sauvé de la noyade!

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    The scattering of the cloister.

    by breughel Updated Sep 18, 2013

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    Cloister

    At the French Revolution the convent and the cloister were abandoned and sold to different owners who established industrial or artisanal activities in the premises. The last was a mason who used the stones for works in the region.
    148 scattered sculptures were recovered by a judge of Aniane. His heirs sold them to an antique dealer from whom the American sculptor George Grey Barnard bought them and shipped them to New York where they were acquired in 1922 by the Metropolitan Museum and became essential elements of the Cloisters Museum in New York.
    Another part was collected by Abbot Leo Vinas in the 1840s and is located in Montpellier (Languedoc Museum). The small remainder is in Saint-Guilhem.

    ==============================

    Les malheurs du cloître.

    A la Révolution Française le couvent et le cloître abandonnés furent vendus à différents propriétaires qui y établirent des activités industrielles ou artisanales. Le dernier fut un maçon qui utilisa les belles pierres pour des travaux dans la région.

    148 sculptures dispersées furent récupérées par le juge de paix d'Aniane. Ses héritiers le vendirent à un antiquaire chez qui le sculpteur américain Georges Grey Barnard les acheta et les transporta à New-York où elles fuirent acquises en 1922 par le Metropolitan Museum et devinrent des éléments essentiels du Musée des Cloîtres à New-York.
    Une autre partie fut rassemblée par l'Abbé Léon Vinas dans les années 1840 et se trouve à Montpellier (Musée languedocien). Le restant se trouve à Saint-Guilhem.

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    Remains of the cloister.

    by breughel Updated Sep 18, 2013

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    Wing of the cloister
    1 more image

    At Saint-Guilhem not much remains of the famous cloister from the abbey of Gellone, jewel of Romanesque art, which stood on two floors of galleries built between the 11th and 13th centuries. It was a square of about 13 x 15 m.
    Presently are only visible the north and west galleries of the cloisters ground floor.
    To see the whole it is better to fly to New York but you won't see in Manhattan the so typical village and landscape around Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.

    Please note that I do not claim the return of the cloister in France! If you read my comments on the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin or the Parthenon Frieze at the British Museum you'll know I'm for the status quo of works of art in the museums.

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    A Saint-Guilhem même il ne reste plus grand-chose de ce célèbre cloître de l'abbaye de Gellone, joyau d'art roman inscrit au patrimoine de l'Unesco, qui s'élevait sur deux étages de galeries construites entre les XI et XIII siècles. C'était un quadrilatère de 13 x 15 m. Il ne reste que les galeries Nord et Ouest du cloître inférieur. Pour voir le tout il vaut mieux prendre l'avion pour New-York.
    L'avantage de Saint-Guilhem le Désert c'est qu'il y a le village et le paysage tout autour que vous ne trouverez pas à Manhattan.
    Attention, je ne réclame pas le retour du cloître en France; si vous lisez mes commentaires sur le buste de Néfertiti à Berlin ou les Frises du Parthénon au British Museum vous saurez que je suis pour le statuquo des œuvres d'art.

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    What a beautiful Nature's masterpiece!

    by Toshioohsako Updated Oct 22, 2012
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    La Gotte de Clamouse is one of the largest underground cave, formed by abundant aragonite and calcite. You are welcome to this awsome work of the Nature.

    I recommend to book a guided tour at the ticket office. Going alone i not so safe - its dark and full of hard stones.

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    Take a panolamic view of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert

    by Toshioohsako Updated Oct 10, 2012
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    Facing the entrance gate, take a street on the left and start slowly walking up the ston-paved path. On your right you can see a panoramic view of the village. It's a lovely few minutes' walk. You will be guided to the peaceful square of the village. Have a second coffee there!

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    Place de la Liberté.

    by breughel Written Apr 11, 2010

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    Place de la Libert��.

    This small square is the center of the village. Here is the porch under the tower of the Church of the Gellone Abbey, the market hall and the huge plane tree under which stand the tables of the various cafes/restaurants.
    The houses are Medieval or Renaissance. The nice wall of the refectory of the monks closes the square to the east. From here one can see that the village is built at the foot of impressive limestone cliffs.
    The entrance to the large parking (fee) is at less than 100 m.

    The village has 250 inhabitants, but in the tourist season (holidays and weekends) the number of visitors reaches a few thousand per day. St. Guilhem le Désert is one of the most visited places in the Herault department. Many craft shops adorn the walk. The village is classified as World Heritage by the UNESCO.

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    C'est le centre du village. Ici se trouve le porche d'entrée sous la tour de l'église abbatiale de l'abbaye de Gellone, le marché couvert et l'immense platane sous lequel se rangent les tables des différents restaurants/cafés.
    Les maisons sont médiévales où de la Renaissance. Le beau mur du réfectoire des moines clôt la place vers l'est. D'ici l'on voit bien que le village est bâti aux pieds d'impressionnantes falaises calcaires.
    L'entrée du grand parking (payant) se trouve à moins de 100 m.

    Le village comporte 250 habitants mais en saison touristique (vacances et week-ends) le nombre de visiteurs atteint les quelques mille. Saint Guilhem le Désert est l'un des lieux des plus visités de l'Hérault. De nombreuses boutiques d'artisans d'arts agrémentent la balade. Le village est classé au Patrimoine Mondial de l'UNESCO.

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    A paradoxical name!

    by breughel Written Apr 11, 2010

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    Street fountain.

    What a paradox to have associated the word desert with this village when everywhere fountains gush out of the stones!
    In fact the word refers to the deserted landscape of wild scrubland that characterizes the heights of the Hérault with its narrow gorges.

    Guilhem was the grandson of Charles Martel and cousin of the future Charlemagne. He became his faithful friend and adviser. Having fought against the Saracens he retired in the monastery of Gellone which he had founded in 804. Having received from Charlemagne a piece of the Cross he placed it the abbatial church where it is exposed. In the thirteenth century the monastery of Gellone was renamed St. Guilhem le Desert.

    =========================

    Quel paradoxe d'avoir associé ce village avec la notion de désert alors que partout jaillissent des fontaines!
    En fait le mot désert réfère au paysage sauvage de garrigues qui caractérise les hauteurs de l'Hérault et ses gorges étroites.

    Quant à Guilhem il était le petit fils de Charles Martel et cousin du futur Charlemagne dont il devint un fidèle ami et conseiller. Après avoir guerroyé contre les Sarrasins il se retira au monastère de Gellone qu'il avait fondé en 804. Ayant reçu de Charlemagne un morceau de la Croix il l'a déposa dans l'église abbatiale où elle est exposée. Au XIIIe siècle le monastère de Gellone fut rebaptisé Saint Guilhem le Désert.

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    Inside the abbey

    by JLBG Updated Nov 29, 2004

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    The inside of the abbey is very stern and has very little decor. The houses outside, along the main street had more carvings ! In the Languedoc region, there are several examples of Churches that have very little if not no decor at all.

    If you want to know more on the Abbaye de Gellone, click here.

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    The main square

    by JLBG Updated Nov 29, 2004

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    The main square (Place de la Liberté) is well arranged and has numerous shops and bars. Parking is forbidden to visitors but not for the inhabitants. Too bad that cars are parked there ! I can understand that locals have to live normally, but the square should remain car free !

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    Still water !

    by JLBG Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    There is so much water in Saint Guilhem that the cloister has still water basins that adds to the peacefulness of the abbey. Though I have not experienced it myself, I would not be surprised if they added mosquitoes too ! This would not be for peaceful nights then !

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    The garden in the cloister

    by JLBG Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    The garden in the cloister is very green and justify the name of ''the rose in the heart of the mountains'' given to the abbey by the pilgrims. Everything grows well as there is a lot of water flowing, as everywhere in Saint Guilhem.

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    Inside the cloister

    by JLBG Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    The pilgrims called the Gellone abbey ''the rose in the heart of the mountains''. Most carvings have been moved to the Cloister museum in New-York at the end of the XIXth century but the archways and the garden remain.

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    The cloister

    by JLBG Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    The cloister remains very quiet. It is in a half shade.

    In the XIXth century a mason sold stone after stone all the carving to an important man in Aniane that was fond of Romanesque art. After many ups and downs, it eventually crossed the Atlantic Ocean and is henceforth to "Cloister Museum of New York".

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    The crypt as it is now

    by JLBG Updated Nov 28, 2004

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    The crypt has been partly destroyed and entirely felt with rumbles in the XVIth century. It was unearthed only a few years ago. Nevertheless, what remains is still impressive. This picture shows the crypt as it is now.

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