House in Aniane

Daily necessities are obtainable in Aniane by shopping on foot. The village has small grocery shops, bakeries, butcher shops, a general dry-goods store, an open market (on Thursdays) and a variety of mobile vendors who arrive once or more often per week to sell everything from fish to bedding. The area around Aniane is excellent bicycling country, with flat coastal plains extending to the south and hillier country to the north and west.

PARKING: If you bring a car to Aniane, you'll find ample parking on the streets and squares near 19 rue de la Tour.   Just keep in mind that Rue de la Tour itself is so small that parking on this street itself is not possible.    It is not even advisable to drive to the front door of the house, as then you will need to thread your way back through the first 100 meters or so of Rue de la Tour in reverse.

Here is a bit more detail on local sights and amenities along with web page links where available (link will open in new tab or page):


Hostellerie St. Benoit (in the modern hotel across from the cemetery on the road leading St. Guilhem).

L'Affenage, just around the corner from the house, in front of the City Hall. It offers good to excellent cooking, lovely ambiance, a warm welcome from the English speaking restauranteurs and moderate prices.

Chez Fabrice, across the street from the post office, serves pizzas and a number of other pleasant and moderately priced dishes.

There are also a variety of little cafes serving inexpensive fare, including Cafe du Pavillon on the main highway through town (D 32) and the two cafes on the Esplanade.


Where to start? First of all, find the file of flyers for local sites and restaurants. It should be on one of the wooden shelves in the wall in the living room. You will find a detailed local road map in this folder. A yellow Michelin map of the region is available at the news stand on the Esplanade. All the spots mentioned below should be easily locatable on the map.

ANIANE itself. Don't miss the chance to get to know the town by foot. Besides the enormous baroque church and the medieval tower (for which rue de la Tour is named), there are very pleasant walks to be taken to the hills and vinyards at the outskirts of town. Indeed, the little roads and paths through the hills to the east, north and west of Aniane offer countless hikes and bicycle trips through varied countryside. On one such route, you can also walk (or bike) to the astronomical observatory at the edge of town--several kilometers, on top of the hill above Route de la Boissiere as you leave town to the north-east.


ST. GUILHEM LE DESERT (web site) --about eight km. north-west of Aniane, an easy bicycle trip. This stunning, beautifully situated village on route D 4, and its historic church and abbey, are the most noted local sites. Part of the cloister next to the abbey has now been reassembled in The Cloisters museum in New York City. The refectory has been turned into a fascinating and beautiful museum. There are several restaurants in St. Guilhem. At one, Les Fonzes, you can eat overlooking the Herault; not haute cuisine, but pleasant and generally inexpensive.

THE HERAULT AND ITS "GORGES". About half way between Aniane and St. Guilhem, the Herault river passes out of its canyon (or gorge, as people prefer to say in French) onto the plain. The river is attractive both in the rugged canyon and downstream, on the flatter country. Perhaps the best beach is at the Pont de Diable, en route to St. Guilhem. You can also rent kayaks to descend through the canyon.

PONT DU DIABLE. This remarkable medieval bridge over the Herault is now overshadowed by an unremarkable modern one. Don't miss the chance to walk on the old one.

GROTTE DE CLAMOUSE (web site): About 5 km. from Aniane, on the way to St. Guilhem. Conspicuously sign-posted, by the side of the river. These dramatic limestone caves are shown in commercial guided tours at all times during the year. They are a great choice on a rainy day (the weather inside a cave never surprises you).

NEARBY VILLAGES. St. Jean de Fos (web site), Montpeyroux(web site Google English translation , or here in original French), la Boissiere, and Puechabon (web site Google English , or here in original French), are just four of the many charming villages within easy bicycling distance of Aniane. The latter two are on hillier routes. Every village and town except the very smallest has its own market day, with the bigger, more interesting markets in Gignac (Saturdays) and Clermont l'Herault (Wednesdays). Aniane's market is Thursdays.

Clermont l'Herault (web site), about five thousand population, is roughly 20 km. west from Aniane. A marketing center for the region. Interesting town squares and gothic church and a nice country-town atmosphere.


Grapes (mostly for wine) are the main industry in the region. The local ordinary wines from Aniane (the red and rose, at least) are quite good, given how inexpensive they are.

Premium wines are made at Domaine des Conquetes (web site)in Aniane itself, and at Domaine de Capion and Mas du Daumas Gassac (web site in Google English translation, or in original French, in the country between Aniane and Gignac. Mas du Daumas Gassac has an elaborate, California-style tasting room; the wine is expensive but good. Domaine de Capion may also offer tastings, and the product is less expensive. The two are more or less next door to one another, a pleasant bike ride of about 4 km. south of Aniane.


ST MARTIN DE LONDRES and ST. LOUP PEAK: Leaving Aniane on highway D 32 heading north, you climb into the garrigue--hills and plateaux covered with small trees and brush. I find this country austerely beautiful. As you head toward St. Martin de Londres, you get some magnificent views of the Cevennes mountains to the north and west, and then of the dramatic St. Loup Peak, to the north-east. The small but dramatic peak can be climbed on foot (without risk to life or limb) in about two hours, starting from the south side. As you drop down from the hills, you come to the town of St. Martin, a pleasant spot with a gem of a Romanesque church. There are a variety of restaurants and shops in St. Martin, making it a good destination for a day-trip by bicycle. It's about 25-30 km., or half an hour's ride by car.

MOUNT ST. BAUDILLE: This is the impressive mountain with the TV transmitter at the summit that you see looking west from the roof terrace. You can drive or even bicycle there from Aniane, though I think only a seasoned cyclist would want to try the ascent. The drive would be about 25 minutes, via St. Jean de Fos and Arboras. You can drive (or cycle) right to the top; the views are unsurpassed.

PRIORY OF GRAMONT. About 30 km. west of Aniane, north east of Lodeve, a striking rural manor house with a beautiful cloister and Romanesque chapel has recently been opened to the public. The property also includes some fascinating prehistoric dolmens (Stonehenge-like arrangements of rocks, though on a smaller scale than Stonehenge). You'll need to check to find out what days and hours are good for visiting.

PEZENAS (web site in Google English , or in original French) : About 40 km. south of Aniane, on national route 9, south of Clermont. A pleasant town about the size of Clermont on the plain near the Herault. Known for a well-organized walking tour through dozens of "hotels particuliers", elaborate private town-houses, mostly from the 17th century. If you walk through the center of town, you should see signs advertising the walking tour to visitors.

THE MEDITERRANEAN: It's so jammed in the summer that I rarely go. Try it in the off-season by driving (or cycling) to Sete (about 45 km.); the beach stretches south from there for miles. If you like oysters, Sete is the place for you (though equally fresh oysters from the basin nearby Sete can be purchased from the mobile vendor in Aniane, at the Thursday market and often on other days, too).

FOR CASTLE-LOVERS: World-class castles are to be seen near Montpeyroux, Aumelas, St. Jean de Bueges, Pezenes-les-Mines and Clermont l'Herault (on the hill overlooking town), and many other towns.

SOME LONGER TRIPS: All within two hours' drive are the Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard (web site); the city of Nimes (web site), with its Roman temple and amphitheater; La Courvertoirade, the walled medieval town, now largely restored; and Enserun, a Greek colony from hundreds of years B.C. The Pont du Gard and Nimes are both roughly north-east of Aniane; La Couvertoirade is north-west (off national route 9, beyond Lodeve); and Enserun is roughly south-west, a few kilometers beyond Beziers.


By Bus (Public Bus Schedules : If you plan carefully, you can take the bus to Montpellier, Gignac, Clermont and many other destinations. A schedule for Gignac and Montpellier is kept in the sheaf of local information on the shelf in the living room. For more detailed information, you may have to contact the bus company at the number listed there.

The thing is, finally, there's so much to do. I've hardly scratched the surface.

You can't see it all in one visit, so just relax and enjoy the immediate surroundings. Even the Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard can't beat an excellent picnic with local ingredients on the outskirts of Aniane (or indeed, in our garden), when you're in the mood to stay close to home.