Ermitage, Alès - A Group Observes The ViewErmitage, Alès - A Group Observes The View
©Ermitage, Alès - A Group Observes The View
Cevennes capital

My weekend in Alès

A city on a human scale where life is good

A weekend in Alès, the opportunity to discover its heritage and its cultural life, which can be appreciated in any season. Follow us during our stay full of discovery between local products, our visits to museums and our evenings in the capital of the Cevennes. We will share with you all our good plans!

In the life of an Alésienne

We take you to discover the city through the eyes of an Alésienne. And it’s at our friend’s place, recently installed, that we will spend this weekend. We arrived Friday evening at the station of Alès where our friend was waiting for us. Let’s go for our weekend in this city she likes so much.

A rendezvous at the market

For our first day, early in the morning, we start by going to do some shopping at the Halles de l’Abbaye – the popular and friendly covered market of Alès which welcomes from Monday to Saturday, in the heart of the city, the local producers. In a friendly atmosphere, there are market gardeners, artisan butchers, fishmongers, cheesemongers … and all local specialties. We take the opportunity to leave with some souvenirs in our backpacks: chestnut cream, Cevennes honey and olive oil from here.

The morning walk

After this market, we stroll throughthe shopping streets of the city center and discover some nice stores, especially of designers, on rue de Beauteville. We could now go visit thecathedral of Saint-Jean Baptiste or the Protestant temple and then the Bosquet garden at the foot of the citadel of Alès, but the urge comes to us to go strolling on the riverbanks of the Gardon. Along the way, we listen to the anecdotes that our friend shares with us about the history of the city, its recent changes and its festivities in every season.

It’s time for a picnic

About noon, our stomachs starting to rumble, we decide to improvise a picnic with our purchases from the market: vegetables and fruits in season, some Cevenolian cold cuts, some local lamb, the famous pélardon that everyone talks about.

Forward to thepark of the Old Tower! It’s a peaceful place, a little out of the way from the heart of the city but quickly accessible by the bus line 60. On the spot, we enter a lush green space and take the alley to our left. With the feast consumed, a short stroll is next in this botanical park with its Belle Époque-style greenhouse and ancient stone tower. Beautiful alleys lined with oleander, acanthus and rare plants lead us to a small meadow set up on the heights of the hill. We spend a very relaxing time there.

Did you know that?

Good plan for a picnic

The Old Tower Park is equipped with a connected plancha.

Made here in Alès, this handy installation can be used with the Cooxy app on smartphone. At low heat and without flame, you can thus quietly prepare your lunch and enjoy the table nearby.

Dovecote Museum

In the early afternoon, we reach the Dovecote Museum located near the train station. Arriving at the place called Domaine du Colombier, we enter a former mansion and discover an impressive archaeological collection that traces the excavations carried out in Alès, including that of the emblematic site of the Hermitage located on the heights of the city.

On the second floor, the space dedicated to the Fine Arts offers us an interesting panorama of works from the 16th to the 18th century. And a small self-service document catches our attention: “Let’s walk through a work”; an invitation to better look at a painting to understand its composition, its colors, its characters…

You can even play at being an artist by redrawing from memory the work observed! It’s quite simple, fun and rewarding.

On the top floor, we discover a darkened room reserved for temporary exhibitions. On the day of our visit, it was a work by Brueghel, “Of Velvet,” that was projected on the wall. We all leave delighted with this beautiful cultural experience.

Back at our host’s house, we enjoy the rest of the day in his pool under a beautiful sun – another beautiful moment of tranquility that we all enjoy.

A nebulous evening

Finally, for our first evening in Alès, our friend has the great idea to invite us to a regional beer tasting in her favorite place in Alès: L’Urban Parc, a must-see place where skateboarding, accrobranche and street-art enthusiasts meet around an organic and local restaurant. We spend a few pleasant hours there and then return to our friend’s house in the softness of the evening, admiring the starry sky of the Cevennes.

The starry sky in the Cevennes

Alès, “Gateway to the stars”

On October 13, 2018, during the event “The Day of the Night”, Alès to receive its title “Gateway City”. The title of “Gateway to the stars”, unique in the world for the time being, and which attests to the commitment of the city and the agglomeration for the protection of the night space.

A Sunday in Alès, in search of culture

A coffee to start

We start our day by taking a café on the terrace, at the brasserie Le Gambrinus, place Gabriel Péri. Our friend having inquired beforehand with the tourist office about the activities offered on Sunday, she then takes us in the footsteps of the “black faces” for the time of a visit to La Mine Témoin, a “mine school” that allowed apprentices miners to train or improve their skills until 1968.

A view of Alès

Nestled on the heights of the city, the mine is very close to the unavoidable Crassier d’Alès whose conical shape has intrigued us since our arrival. Our friend explains to us that it is a former slag heap, born from the pile of shale and rock spoil from the digging, boiler ashes, wood, scrap metal… A vestige of the local industrial past, to which many names are attributed to it: mountain of suffering, mountain of memory…

In the footsteps of the apprentice miners

Curious and eager to visit this memorial site, we don a helmet before discovering the wagons, the locomotive, and the cuffats – the iron barrels that allowed the staff to dive into the mine and come back up at the end of the day. After a descent by elevator, we follow in the footsteps of the guide, who is fascinating and passionate about the city’s charcoal past. And over 700 meters of galleries, the local history of coal is then presented to us, through wax characters in situation and various characteristic elements of that not so distant time. We thoroughly enjoyed the excursion, but it is with pleasure that we return to the surface and savor the daylight.

Now it’s time for us to go and relax in one of the manyrestaurants downtown. Then this afternoon, we’ll go savor modern and contemporary art at the PAB Museum.

Our visit to the PAB museum

During our visit to the PAB museum, we discover a wholepanel of modern works, including the personal collection of Pierre André Benoît, which he donated to the city of Alès. A publisher, poet and artist active in Alès after World War II, this man of arts and letters was very closeto internationally renowned artists, Dadaists and Surrealists, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Tristan Tzara. We explore theirpictorial universes and, in the space of the permanent collections, a set of cards invites us to question the works presented and to understand the hidden meanings.

Did you know that?

Where is the PAB Museum located?

The PAB museum is located in the Rochebelle property,

It is a building known since the Middle Ages and revisited in a neoclassical style at the end of the 17th century. Acquired by the city of Alès in 1976, it was fitted out in 1989 to house the Pierre André Benoît museum-library.


What is it?

A visit to the PAB Museum gives you the opportunity to learn more aboutDada: an art movement born in 1916, which aimed to overturn the laws of logic and “still thinking.” The Dadaists were in revolt against the war and advocated freedom ofcreation. They were meant to be disrespectful, extravagant, and displayed a total disregard for the “old stuff” of the past. Their credo: to achieve the greatestfreedom of expression, using any material and medium possible.

Delighted with this encounter withmodern art, we then go back to walk around a bit more in city center, before returning to our friend’s house to enjoy the “aperitif” time. She then invites us to taste the Cartagena, a specialty from here based on grape mash and brandy. To be tried!

Last night at the theater

Finally, to end our stay in the Cevennes in style, we head to the Cratère, the National Stage of Alès, to enjoy a renowned play. Amazing! We live there again a beautiful experience that leaves us with happy memories.

At the same time rich in activities, discoveries and moments of conviviality, our weekend in Alès will thus have kept all its promises. Seduced by this city full of charm and on a human scale, we look forward to a new invitation from our friend!”

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