The Gard department in the South of France has something for everybody. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, it’s all there. Charming towns alternate with dramatic natural sites and Roman history goes hand in hand with local traditions. And then there’s the perfect location between the Cévennes in the hinterland and the Camargue along the seaside. The variety in landscapes is so diverse that one day you can find yourself hiking in the middle of nowhere, and the next day you can be lazing at the beach. Sounds like a difficult choice? No worries, below you will find my top 10 list of favourite places to help make sure you choose well. And if you would like more tips, just type ‘Gard‘ in the search box, and La Ramoneta will show you more ideas.
Let’s start with Nîmes, the capital of the Gard department. The town has a rich history that dates back to the days of the Roman Empire, hence its nickname “French Rome”. It’s great to spend a day- or more- and discover the three main highlights: La Maison Carrée, the Roman arena, and the Tour Magne. Walking distances between the monuments are very reasonable.
The medieval town of Aigues-Mortes took me by surprise. I absolutely loved walking around this beautiful picturesque and historic site! La Tour de Constance and the impressive 13th-century city walls are still fully preserved and can be visited. And, if you explore the lovely side streets off the popular Place Saint-Louis, you will undoubtedly get that stepping-back-in-time feeling.
3. Pont du Gard
What’s in a name… Of course, you cannot miss visiting the most emblematic site of the Gard department. The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that dates back more than 2,000 years. Le Pont du Gard has gloriously stood the test of time, as even nowadays this is a popular spot both for locals and visitors.
4. Gorges du Gardon
The protected natural site of the Gorges du Gardon is a true paradise! And thinking about how the Gardon River took about 6 million years to find its way through the limestone rocks to create the gorges makes the place feel even more special. My family and I went to Collias, but there must be other good spots for hiking, biking and climbing, since the gorges stretch over 20 kilometres.
History flows through the picturesque streets of charming Uzès, strategically situated between Nîmes, Avignon and Alès. Wander around the small town nicknamed ‘French Tuscany’ and deliberately get lost in the labyrinth of narrow, medieval streets. Besides lovely boutiques and galleries, you will find many restaurants and two weekly markets for some refined refuelling.
6. The Most Beautiful Villages
The Gard department has four villages that can call themselves “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France“. Up in the North of the Gard, you will find picturesque Aiguèze on top of a cliff. La Roque-sur-Cèze proudly perches above the river Cèze, while lovely Lussan dates back to the Gallo-Roman Period. And finally medieval Montclus with its narrow streets and vaulted passageways. They are all stunning and worth visiting.
7. Cascades de Sautadet
Just a stone’s throw from La Roque-sur-Cèze, you can admire another highlight of the Gard department. Go and visit the impressive Cascades du Sautadet and see them abruptly and dramatically interrupt the course of the gently flowing Cèze River. It is strictly forbidden to swim here though, because the water swirls dangerously into deep holes.
8. The Bambouseraie
When you’re in the region, I advise a visit to the botanical garden “La Bambouseraie en Cévennes” near Anduze. As soon as you arrive, you will be immersed in a peaceful world of bamboo, giant, exotic trees, and other intriguing plants. A completely different landscape from the garrigues and palm trees we are used to in the South of France.
9. Cirque de Navacelles
One of the most remarkable natural sites in France is the Cirque de Navacelles. This impressive canyon on the southern edge of the Massif Central was carved out by the Vis River some 5,000 years ago. Surrounded by the limestone plateau of the Causses and the Cevennes in the North, it’s officially classified as a ‘Grand Site de France ‘. You can easily spend a day at this curiosity of Mother Nature.
10. Cascade de la Vis
With its characteristic semicircle shape, the Cascade de la Vis is probably the most photographed waterfall in the Gard department. The crystal-clear water of the Vis River and the impressive waterfalls in the background are definitely a sight to behold! It’s dangerous to swim in the waterfall, and therefore forbidden. But you can have a dip in the river well away from the Cascade de la Vis.