One of the “official” most beautiful villages in France.
Carole and I were traveling back to Vence from northern Spain last week. I’d already been able to visit seven of the “official” villages on this trip: Olargues, St. Guilhem-le-Désert, Eus, Evol, Mosset, Villefrance-de-Conflent and Castelnou. However, I noticed that with a slight detour I could hit one more on the way home. We stopped for the night in Uzès, which is an absoultey wonderful village that should be on the list, but is not. The next morning I got up bright and early and set out for Montclus which is only about 45 minutes north. The drive was nice and relatively easy. I arrived in Montclus around 8:30AM and spent the next couple of hours exploring the village.
[more info after photo gallery]
Montclus is located in Gard department, part of the Occitanie region. It’s not too far from Nîmes, as well as Pont du Gard, the famous Roman aqueduct. It’s an area of France that used to be known as “The Languedoc” before the reshuffling of regions in 2016. The village, sitting on a bend in the Cèze river, is quite small with a population of just 159. It’s most famous for it’s 13th century castle, which, unfortunately was closed when I was there. You’ll find all the typical features of a small village in the Languedoc including narrow streets and alleys, covered passageways, beautiful homes and lovely gardens.
It’s easy to get around in Montclus. You can see the entire village on foot and you don’t really even have to do a lot of walking. It’s also not one of the more well known villages on the official “list” so it’s usually not too crowded, as some of the more popular villages can be. I was there on a Monday morning in early October and there was absolutely no one around. I felt like I had the entire village to myself. I’m sure it’s a bit busier during peak season, but when I was there it was pratically deserted.
I parked in a large square near the church and set out to discover the village. The World War I memorial (which every village, town and city in France have) is located on this square. I always stop to read the monument and wonder about all the French lives lost during this war. The church was closed (as if often the case in very small villages) so I began to wander about, taking in small narrow roads and stone buildings. Behind the church is a lovely little field of olive trees and I was able to get some great photos from this vantage point (the featured image on this page). Next to the church is the cemetary and I spent a little time looking around there.
The village is surrounded by large fields, vineyards and the Cèze river. It’s really a beautiful area, very tranquil and calm. I walked down to the river which was very shallow and peaceful and meandered along the banks for a little while before heading back up to the village. More narrow streets, stone buildings and covered passages. I was disappointed to find the castle was closed, but it just means I’ll have to stop back again sometime. Many of these small villages are built into hillsides or on the edges of cliffs to provide protection from invaders. That can sometimes mean a lot of climbing up and down. This is not the case in Montclus. It is a very flat village with hardly any uphill or downhill portions whatsoever.
All in all, I found Montclus to be a very nice way to spend an autumn morning. As I said, it’s small and not crowded at all so it was quite easy to take in everything in a few hours. You won’t find much in the way of stores, restaurants and shops here. But, if you like strolling through an old French village, this is a good place to go.