•Gard (30390) • Population: 3,821 • Altitude: 10 m
Aramon is a picturesque village on the west bank of the Rhône, between Avignon and Beaucaire. It has an ancient center of narrow, cobblestone streets, Roman artifacts, Medieval doorways and buildings, and is topped by an imposing (but private) castle.
The main village square has a fountain (our photo) and a single terrace-café. There are only the minimum basic village shops (butcher, baker, tabac-presse), so Aramon doesn't have the bustle of busy shoppers, except possibly on Wednesday market day.
Opposite the main square, the ancient Porte de Montfrin gives entry into the historical old village. This was one of eight fortified entries into the walled town. There was originally a draw bridge here, replaced by a simple stone bridge in 1771, and paved over in the following centuries.
Just inside the Porte de Montfrin entry is the maison natal of Henri Pitiot, along with one of the oldest houses in the village, vaulted passages, some beautiful old hotels particulers and the 11th-century Saint Pancrace church.
In the heart of the old village, the large, open Place Choisity has a more modern look, but only because of its current (2015) renovation. This square is bordered by the 16th-century Hotel Chiosity (back, right of our photo) with its beautiful facade built by a master stone mason from Uzes.
At one end of the Place Choisity is the tall, stone tower, Tour du Brechet, that once guarded one of the eight fortified entries into the old village.
The Rhône had periodic and disastrous flooding throughout history. In 1856 the waters of the Rhône completely flooded the village of Aramon (our photo). Following this flood, Aramon's own Henri Pitot applied his engineering skills to constructing a new dike and and stone quay to replace the ancient ramparts along the river side of town.
The Languedoc area and the Gard department had severe flooding in the year 2002. On the night of 9-10 September, 2002, the dike protecting the village from the Rhône ruptured and flooded the center, with the loss of five people drowned.
Henri Pitot (1695-1771), inventor of the Pitot tube (among other honors) was a true native son of Aramon, being born, living and eventually dying in the same house, but with travels for study and work in between.
M. Pitot originally studied mathematics and astronomy (hence the observatory on top of his house - our photo), and in 1723 was the assistant to a physician. Among his many remarkable achievements, Henri built the road bridge integrated into the side of the Pont du Gard, built and rebuilt many dikes, canals, fountains and aqueducts, restored the arches of the Roman bridge at Sommières, and of course invented the famous Pitot tube for aircraft.
Aramon has the very small glory of having the tallest structure in the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region. This is the 250-meter tall, red and white smokestack at the local EDF (electric company) power plant, 2 km southwest of the village center.
The number and the personality of cats seems to vary from village to village. In Aramon there seem to be quite a few cats, at least out in the streets and on window ledges where we can see them. And, the Aramon village cats are more friendly than shy, so we've included a photo gallery of our favorites.
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History of Aramon
Aramon has a very long history, dating from prehistoric habitation at Mount Couvin (at the north edge of the village), through Gallo-Roman, Roman, the Middle Ages, Wars of Religion, Plague and floods.
Origin: A Latin inscription discovered at Collias (on the Gardon, 20 km to the west) in 1873 was dedicated to the local diety of Aramon, giving a 2nd-century BC Celtic source for the village name.
Prehistoric: Prehistoric artifacts found on the protected south side of Mount Couvin (1 km north of the current village center) included stone tools and shards of Phoenician pottery.
Celto-Ligurian: The Volques Arekomiques were a Celtic people living here during the period of Transalpine Gaul. Extensive discoveries here, including inscriptions and artifacts, indicate important habitation during Roman, Pre-Roman and even back to late Stone Age times.
Medieval: Heavy trade and traffic on the Rhône between Avignon, Nimes, Arles and Marseille continued from Roman times into the Middle Ages. When Christianity was proclaimed legal in the 4th century, Aramon came under the jurisdiction of the Bishops of Nîmes. A long period of invasions then followed, by the Visigoths, Sarrasins, Normands and Hungarians.
By the middle of the 15th century Aramon was controlled by five families (the Posquières, the Laudun, the Joussaud, the Du Jardins and the Malavettes). In the middle of the 16th century, Diane de Poitiers was the Lord of Aramon. At the end of her reign, the two Christian factions traded control regularly during the destructive Wars of Religion.
Market day: Wed, Sun (Mid-June to Mid-Sept, Place Ledru-Rollin).
• GPS: 43.889681, 4.679645
"Entre Rhône et Gardon", map+info (1:30'000)
Bories - Capitelles. The Sentier des Capitelles d'Aramon is a 6-km loop in the garrigue north-northeast of the village that takes you by a number of dry-stone bories, known as capitelles in this part of France. Drive out Ave General De Gaulle about 800 m to a traffic circle, and go left (north) under the railway line up the Chemin de Sainte Suzanne through a residential area. There's a parking area by the Ave des Tourterelles, and panels for the start of the Capitelles hike. (GPS 43.90090, 4.69005)
A panel map at the beginning shows the trail, and the positions of about 20 capitelles, and specifies about 2-1/2 hours for the 6 km hike. The trail is through the dry garrigue and is quite stony. Many of the capitelles (bories) are small, and most seem to have been recently rebuilt. The higher part of the trail has a nice view down across the Rhone river.
There's one nice 20-km loop hike at Aramon. North from town the GR42A connects with the standard GR42 at the village of Saze. Southwest from Saze the GR42 trail follows roads to the village of Théziers, where the GR42A branches east back to Aramon.
North of Aramon, the GR42-GR42A continues north as well as connecting with the GR63 that goes from Avignon west through the Gorges du Gardon.
We know of one restaurant in Aramon, Sous les Olivier at 44 Rue Pitot, by the corner of Place Choisity. We haven't tried it yet, but it does look good.
Department 30, Gard Buses
- See Beyond's Gard Department Bus Schedules for Gard bus-lines maps and bus-line schedules (Horaires).
Maps (Plans) for the Gard bus lines are on the www.edgard.fr website, with a flash webpage for each of five zones around Nîmes (www.edgard-transport.fr/plan/?rub_code=5).
Schedules for the Gard bus lines are available via the www.edgard.fr website horaires page (www.edgard-transport.fr/horaires/?rub_code=23).