Crossing the narrow Charles Martel bridge over the Cèze river will bring you to one of the four “Most Beautiful Villages” of the Gard department. Nestled between vineyards of the Gard region, the village of La Roque-sur-Cèze proudly perches above the river Cèze. It’s a great stop when you’re exploring the Cèze valley or when visiting the nearby Cascades du Sautadet.
My family and I were in the area to see the Cascades du Sautadet. I was glad I managed to entice my brood to visit Roque-sur-Cèze before we went to the waterfalls. As the village clings onto a rocky peak, it was a little climb to the top. A marked-out route for visitors makes exploring La Roque-sur-Cèze easy. This guided walk leads you to 13 signs that indicate the points of interest throughout the medieval village. The church, for example, originally dates from the 19th century. It was renovated in the 20th century to replace the castle’s chapel. This castle on top of the hill dates back to the 12th century. It served more to defend the village than as a residence. Today, it’s closed to the public, and you can only see its two towers from a distance.
Cobbled, narrow streets and vaulted passageways make you believe that you have been sent right back to the Middle Ages. You would never guess that by the 1950s, the upper half of the village was mostly in ruins. Nowadays, many of stone houses which are so typical for the South of France have been beautifully renovated. Wandering around, we found most of the 13 signs. At the ‘lavoir’, we enjoyed a bit of shade while reading the history of this washhouse. It was the women of the village who convinced the marquis, the mayor, and the taxpayers to build them a washhouse in 1843. It saved the women a trip down to the Cèze River and back up to the village while carrying the heavy load of wet laundry.
After my umpteenth picture, the kids were done with me and the village. In summer, you will find a few restaurants and a tiny shop that sells refreshments. Therefore, I could prolong our stay a little longer by buying our children- and Chéri- a homemade ice cream at this cute shop on the Place des Marronniers. They also sell wine and beer, but since we were going to the Cascades du Sautadet, I thought it was wiser to keep my head clear. And finally, after an hour or so, we headed to the waterfalls. Not for a dip in the Cascades du Sautadet, as the waterfalls, the limestone rocks and the canyon are way too dangerous to swim. But there is a great spot to cool down a bit further along the Cèze River. Everybody happy!