Many people might know Saint-Chinian because of its wine appellation. And there is a good reason why this lovely village has its own AOC certification of authenticity. It’s the unique combination of two soil types- schist and limestone- that makes this region a winemaker’s heaven. Walking the Notre-Dame de Nazareth trail is a great way to discover Saint-Chinian’s diverse landscape. The 9 km hike will bring you through vines and garrigue, and you will definitely have earned your apéro afterwards!
The Notre-Dame de Nazareth trail is a so-called ‘oenorando’, or a wine walk. Hérault Tourisme created these walks together with the French Hiking Federation for you to explore the vineyard landscapes on foot. Therefore, you won’t be surprised that the start and end point is at the Maison des Vins. Chéri and I decided to start the hike by walking in the direction of the Moulin du Rocher. The bigger Notre-Dame de Nazareth hike overlaps partly with the shorter Parfums de Garrigue one. So, we spotted a couple of capitelles, the small, igloo-shaped huts made out of dry stones without using mortar. Looking to our right, we had a magnificent view of Saint-Chinian with Mont Caroux in the background.
Notre-Dame de Nazareth
The first part of the hike to the mill and the capitelles goes up a little, including a few steep climbs. But not for long, as in total you ascend 250 meters and descend about 120 meters, according to the Visorando app. Leaving the plateau and descending through vines and scrublands, Chéri and I could already spot the cross on the hill of the Notre-Dame de Nazareth chapel. To get there, we had to cross the D177 road (be careful here) and take the little climbing path on the left. On our way to the top, we saw a small commemorative chapel and some crosses. Apparently, you can visit the Notre-Dame de Nazareth chapel by appointment, but I’ve only seen it from the outside.
To make this hike more interesting, you could take a little detour by going up to the big cross. It’s right on top of the hill, but the path to the cross isn’t indicated. It took Chéri and me some searching. But if you take the second or the third path with a yellow cross on your right coming from the chapel, you should find it. I knew the cross should be there somewhere, however we only spotted it once we were rather close to it. This is another steep climb, nevertheless well worth the effort to get another great panorama over Saint-Chinian and its surroundings. Be careful though, as there are no barriers, and the cliffs are steep.
The last part of the hike is easy and relaxing, going downhill only. Passing a flock of sheep and some more vines, Chéri and I absorbed nature at its best. As it was spring, we were also treated with a little lane of blooming wisteria. Another beautiful site just before arriving at Saint-Chinian again is the ‘Platanettes’. This heavenly spot along the Vernazobres River is the reason why we like to start the Notre-Dame de Nazareth hike in the Moulin du Rocher direction. This way, we saved the best for last. Especially in summer, it is the perfect reward to end your hike with a splash in the Vernazobres River. And maybe with a chilled glass of white wine to end this oenorando in style…