Located only 5 km northeast of St-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, the once-fortified hilltop of Clansayes is topped by the 20-m tall Templiers. The hilltop site has a panoramic view across the land, as far as the Cevennes.
The tower was the castle keep of the Knights Templars' fortress. An ordinance from Montélimar in February 1794 ordered the destruction of the tower. The demolition crew managed to knock down the top part, but the thickness of the rest of the tower was too much for them and so it survived.
The Eglise Saint-Michel was built at the base of the tower, inside the fortifications, in the 11th century, and enlarged in the the 15th century by the addition of two lateral chapels.
The Salle aux 3 Niches is a large room, excavated at the top of the Clansayes hill, that was carved out of the rock with deer-antler tools in the Bronze Age. Archeologists believe it was created by a Neolithic tribe from the Seine-Oise-Marne region of France.
The Salle aux 3 Niches was incorporated into the basement of the castle during the Middle Ages.
Notre-Dame de Toronne Chapel
The main church of Clansayes was the Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Toronne, on an isolated hilltop one km south west of the village. The Toronne chapel was built by the Templars to serve as a lodging for the Commander of their Monastery de Clansayes.
The residence was destroyed during the downfall of the Templars, but the chapel remained. Built during the 12th century, the chapel was rebuilt by Chaplain Ugolin in 1206. This has been a pilgrimage site sine 1928.
History of Clansayes
Prehistoric: This was a large Neolithic site, with many artifacts and carvings discovered, including the large '3-niche' room.
Celto-Ligurian: A Ligurean village was located here, and traces of the 'Roman Roads' that passed the base of the hills were probably pre-Roman.
Gallo-Roman: This site was a suburb of the powerful Augustatricastinorum (St Paul-Trois-Chateaux), and had at least five Gallo-Roman villas.
Medieval: During the Wars of Religion Clansayes was captured at least twice by the Protestant troops of the Duke de Lesdiguières. During Christmas 1561, the Hugeunots of St Paul-Trois-Chateaux pillaged the cathedral and tore down all the crosses in the region
More Recently: Earthquake. In June 1772, Clansayes was the epicenter of an earthquake that continued until December 1773. King Louix XV sent the scientist Faujas de St Fond to study the quake, recording times and intensities — the first time an earthquake was studied.
• GPS: 44.372045, 4.80874
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