VILLEVIEILLE / Gard

 

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Villevieille (1500 inhabitants) is located on a hill overlooking the plains surrounding the Vidourle river.

 

It is halfway between the cities of Nîmes and Montpellier at a distance of about 27 kilometres. The Lunel exit from the A9 highway is 15 kilometes away and the Mediterranean beaches and the Cevennes mountain range are close by.

 

Villevieille is part of the Communauté de Communes du Pays de Sommières.

 

There are very few commercial activities (Restaurant, Hairdresser, Rooms Bed&B) as well as a sportsground and a place to play "la Pétanque" in the village.

 

This is due to the proximity of Sommières (1km) where one finds all the necessary commodities.

 

But, Villevieille has a Kindergarten (Les Bébisous), nursery school, and a primary school with 6 classes. There are also daycare services at these schools.

 

 

 

 

 

Various associations participate to the animation of the village

 

 

 

q      Le Club Taurin Lou Séden organises "la fête votive, first week end after the 15 august and other festivities during the year : fête du Printemps, outings to manades (breeding of the "taureaux de Camargue"), balls and bull festivities.

 

q      Comitéee d'animation du Foyer de Villevieille organises family activities (lotos, dinner dansing, balls) or cultural events (theater evenings, concerts, exhibitions, etc.). The Committee also manages the Library with over 2500 books, and subscriptions to reviews and magazines. A separate room is reserved for children

 

q      L'Association de Parents d'élèves organizes extra curricular activities for the children (Carnaval, lotos, spectacles).

 

q      L'Association pour la Sauvegarde du Site  : Preservation of the national historical heritage in the medieval village and its outskirts.

 

q      Les Amis de l'Eglise participate in the catholic parish life (Exhibition and sales of Santons in November).

 

q      La Diane Villevieilloise The hunting society manages and repopulates game on the commune and organizes the hunting season.

 

 

Some activities are proposed permanently :

Gymnastics, Tai Chi Chuan, Pottery, Saloon dancing, Library, workshop on Comics.

 

Two dynamic activities, related to traditional agriculture : Wine and Olives.

 

q      La Cave coopérative vinicole proposes wine of single type vine-grapes, vins de Pays for local consumers and AOC classified wine in its cellar. Open to the public, Monday to Friday from 9 to 12 and 14 to 18. On Saturday from 9 to 12.

 

q      La Coopérative oléicole The Olive Mill of Villevieille treats the collected olives from the large territory of the commune and produces olive oil (with label AOC). The green olives (Picholine) are transformed to pickled olives (with label AOC). These products, as well as many other goods are on sale in the exhibition hall.

 

Some history of the village

 

 

      Villevieille is a commune with a rich ancient history. The first proof is the prehistoric site of Fontbouïsse, testimony of a population of pastors in chalcolitic times.

        There are also traces of a more recent past. Villevieille was the site of an important Roman Oppidum, with some Greek influence, and one can trace the origins of the village to a Gallic tribe or even to the Volques Arécomiques !

 

         Midrium celtic city or Villa Vetus roman. Opinions diverge on the origin of the name , but the quantity and the numerous vestiges convincingly prove the importance of a city from which 200 wells remain. Some of the Oppidum's ancient roads are still in use and statues are still being discovered.

        Finally, in the 15th century the name of Villevieille appeared for the first time, the castle was built and streets surrounded the ramparts.

        The old village has undergone only few changes since the middle ages. Some streets were opened in the ramparts to give access to the boulevards which surround Villevieille and its medieval character has been preserved.

 

Significant historical monuments
:

 

Château de Villevieille :

Constructed in 1041 (attested as an acte by Bernard III), only the base and a roman tower still exist from the original building. The square towers are connected by a rampart and date back to the 13th century.. The internal yard (court) is Renaissance style, and the terrace of the Nord-west façade were added in 1636. The entire castle was classified Monument Historique in 1972 and is open to visits.

 

Château de Pondres :

Château classified Monument Historique.

The construction of the castle with the stones of Pondres found closed by is situated in the centre of an ancient park (French style, designed by Le Notre) and between the RN 110 and the brook of Aygalade (an affluent of the Vidourle river). The west-wing was partially destroyed by a fire and is now in an extreme state of decay. The chapel on the ground floor of this wing is practically intact. There is also the Assembly room of the General states of Languedoc in central part of the castle. The castle was bought by the Conseil Général in 2004 and sold afterwards. The new owner has just proposed to restore the castle and its outskirts, keeping the identity of the castle and the environment. There should be a tourist hotel and the park. Also proposed is a medical and social part in the park and the farmhouses nearby.

 

La Tour de l'Horloge ( The Clock Tower) :

The Tower is approximately 17 m high and supports the village clock and dominates the principle access to the center of the village (old road of Nîmes to Sommières

 

1793 - 1810 : Construction of the Tower. 1834 : Repair of the door and the interior staircase .

1844 : Repair of the mouvement and layout of first dial plate., 1857 : Repair of the clock platform.

1891 : Replacement of the clock movement. 1892 : Installation of lightning (offered by a villager)

1997 : Restoration of the Tower. This was proposed by the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Site.

 

 

 

Fontbouïsse :

Traces of a dozen dwellings were found on a surface of half a hectar. .Remains of round or rectangular walls of houses were discovered, and some furniture of éponyme style (fonbouissiens) were found during the excavations, directed by M.Damien Peyrolles and Dr. Arnal 60 years ago (1940).

 

Les Capitelles

Huts, built of stones without cement (Pierres sèches) scattered in the vicinity of Villevieille, especially in Pradels, Catet, Biron. No precise construction dates are known. These stone huts were mostlikely used by farmers for shelter and to store harvests of Olives and agriculture tools.

 

Fouilles archéologiques :

Archaeological vestiges were found after an excavation campaign directed by M.Martial Monteil (Archaeologist at University of Nantes). This was suggested by the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Villevieille and took place in the years 1998 to 2005.

 

These vestiges show the existence of a grouped habitat and comprises two large villas with a common court and entries from adjacent roads (75 to50 BC) and surrounded by foot paths. Discovered were also a furnace, some wells, an impluvium, mosaic on floors and walls (restored specially for an exhibition) and various types of pavements. Some furniture, money, a mold for statuettes, etc.

The Commune of Villevieille has a project to develope part of the site as an achaeological garden.

An exhibition of the results (with the collaboration of the Archaeological Museum of Nimes) was held at the Château of Villevieille from July to October 2006 and will be moved afterwards to Nimes.

This project will be publicized soon with the L'agglomération antique de Villevieille (Gard) et son territoire, co-dirigée par Bertrand HOUIX, Martial MONTEIL et Claude REYNAUD.

 

Le Lavoir (Communal laundry house) :

1879 : Decision to build a communal laundry house

1881 : Constructed by 2 enterprises: Louis Gaussen (Villevieille), Frédéric Compan (Clarensac).

The laundry house is a roof covered stone building with 3 basins. It was restored in 1999.

 

La Font Ronde:

A circular stone construction to channel the waterstream to the three basins of the laundry house. Restored also in 1999.

 

 

Le Château de Villevieille (M. CERRET)