Alès is a charming city located in the Gard department in southern France. Known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and cultural heritage, Alès offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Alès:
1. Mine Temoin
Explore the fascinating history of mining in Alès at Mine Temoin. This underground museum provides an immersive experience, taking you back in time to the era when coal mining was a significant industry in the region. Discover the daily lives of miners and learn about the techniques used in extracting coal.
2. Musée du Colombier
Delve into the city’s past at the Musée du Colombier, a historical museum housed in a former bishop’s palace. The museum showcases a wide range of artifacts, including archaeological finds, religious art, and local crafts. It offers a glimpse into Alès’ heritage and its importance in the region.
3. Parc National des Cévennes
Alès is nestled in the Cévennes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its exceptional natural beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the park’s vast network of hiking trails, enjoy scenic drives, or engage in activities like cycling, rock climbing, and birdwatching. The park’s diverse flora and fauna make it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
4. La Prairie du Temple
Relax and unwind at La Prairie du Temple, a picturesque park located in the heart of Alès. With its lush green spaces, peaceful atmosphere, and beautiful flower gardens, it’s an excellent spot for picnicking or enjoying a leisurely stroll. The park also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
5. Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Marvel at the architectural beauty of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a magnificent cathedral located in the center of Alès. This 17th-century cathedral showcases stunning Baroque and Gothic elements and features impressive stained glass windows. Take a moment to step inside and appreciate the tranquility and grandeur of the interior.
6. Les Cévennes en Train
Embark on a scenic train journey through the Cévennes mountains on the Les Cévennes en Train. This heritage railway offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes as it winds its way through tunnels, bridges, and viaducts. It’s an enchanting way to experience the region’s natural beauty.
7. Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Alès by visiting the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, the city’s main square. Here, you’ll find a bustling market, charming cafes, and historic buildings. Take a seat at one of the outdoor terraces and enjoy a cup of coffee while observing the lively ambiance.
8. Pont du Gard
While not located directly in Alès, the iconic Pont du Gard is within driving distance and is well worth a visit. This ancient Roman aqueduct is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of France’s most remarkable historical landmarks. Marvel at its impressive architecture and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.
9. Les Marchés d’Alès
Image Source: https://www.ales.fr/sortir-bouger/shopping/marches/
Experience the vibrant local culture by exploring the markets of Alès. The city offers a variety of markets where you can sample regional delicacies, browse fresh produce, and discover unique crafts and souvenirs. Don’t miss the lively Marché d’Alès, which takes place on Saturdays and offers an authentic taste of the local lifestyle.
10. Festival Cinéma d’Alès – Itinérances
If you visit Alès in March, be sure to catch the Festival Cinéma d’Alès – Itinérances. This renowned film festival celebrates independent cinema and attracts filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts from around the world. Enjoy screenings of diverse films, participate in workshops, and engage in discussions about the art of cinema.
11. Musée du Désert
Located just a short drive from Alès, the Musée du Désert is a significant historical site that tells the story of the Protestant resistance during the 17th and 18th centuries. Explore the museum’s exhibits to learn about the struggles and triumphs of the Protestant community in the region. The museum also organizes guided tours and events that provide further insights into this important period of French history.
12. Château de Portes
Image Source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castello_di_Portes
Take a trip back in time by visiting the Château de Portes, a medieval fortress situated near Alès. This well-preserved castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and provides a glimpse into the architectural and military history of the region. Explore the castle’s towers, courtyards, and underground passages for a memorable experience.
13. La Bambouseraie de Prafrance
Image Source: https://www.bambouseraie.fr/en/homepage/
Discover a tropical oasis in the heart of Alès at La Bambouseraie de Prafrance. This extraordinary botanical garden showcases a stunning collection of bamboo species from around the world. Wander through bamboo forests, explore exotic gardens, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this unique attraction.
14. Pont Vieux
Admire the beauty of the Pont Vieux, a picturesque medieval bridge that spans the River Gardon in Alès. This historic bridge provides a charming backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a scenic photo opportunity. Take in the views of the river and the surrounding architecture, and soak in the ambiance of this iconic landmark.
15. Les Fumades
For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, visit Les Fumades, a thermal spa complex located near Alès. Indulge in a range of wellness treatments, including thermal baths, massages, and saunas. The healing properties of the natural mineral-rich waters will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.
16. Musée PAB
Art enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to visit the Musée PAB, dedicated to the works of Pierre André Benoit, a renowned French painter and sculptor. The museum houses a vast collection of his artworks, showcasing his unique style and artistic evolution. Immerse yourself in the world of contemporary art and appreciate the creativity of this talented artist.
17. Parc Floral des Camellias
Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to the Parc Floral des Camellias, a beautiful botanical garden in Alès. Explore the colorful displays of camellias, stroll along the tranquil pathways, and admire the carefully landscaped gardens. The park is particularly enchanting during the flowering season when the camellias are in full bloom.
18. Le Cratère – Scène Nationale d’Alès
If you’re interested in the performing arts, don’t miss a show at Le Cratère. This renowned cultural center hosts a variety of theater, dance, music, and comedy performances throughout the year. Check the schedule and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of Alès.
19. Local Cuisine
Indulge in the flavors of the region by sampling the local cuisine in Alès. From traditional Provençal dishes to Mediterranean specialties, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to satisfy your culinary cravings. Don’t forget to try local favorites like brandade de morue (salt cod puree) and ratatouille (vegetable stew) for an authentic taste of Alès.
20. Outdoor Activities
Alès and its surrounding areas offer ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore the nearby Cévennes mountains through hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Alternatively, you can engage in water sports such as kayaking or canoeing in the nearby rivers and lakes. Enjoy the fresh air, stunning landscapes, and adrenaline-inducing adventures in the great outdoors.
21. Les Vans
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Vans
Take a day trip to Les Vans, a charming town located approximately 40 kilometers from Alès. Nestled in the heart of the Cévennes National Park, Les Vans offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Explore its narrow streets, visit the local market, and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the famous chestnut-based delicacies, a specialty of the region.
22. Wine Tasting
The Gard department, where Alès is located, is known for its vineyards and wine production. Take a wine tasting tour and discover the rich flavors of the local wines. Visit nearby wineries, learn about the winemaking process, and savor the distinctive aromas and tastes of the region’s red, white, and rosé wines.
23. Les Cévennes Steam Train
Experience a nostalgic journey through the scenic landscapes of the Cévennes on the Les Cévennes Steam Train. This vintage steam locomotive takes you on a picturesque ride, passing through tunnels, viaducts, and breathtaking valleys. Enjoy the rhythmic sounds of the steam engine as you travel back in time along this historic railway route.
24. Aven d’Orgnac
Embark on a fascinating underground adventure at the Aven d’Orgnac, one of the most remarkable caves in France. Located approximately 90 kilometers from Alès, this natural wonder offers stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations, vast chambers, and an underground river. Guided tours allow you to explore the subterranean beauty and learn about the geological history of the cave.
25. Festival Cratères Surfaces
If you visit Alès during the summer, be sure to check out the Festival Cratères Surfaces. This multidisciplinary arts festival celebrates contemporary art, dance, theater, music, and visual arts. Experience unique performances, exhibitions, and installations that showcase the creativity and innovation of artists from around the world.
26. Grotte de la Cocalière
Image Source: https://www.grotte-cocaliere.com/en/
Discover the hidden wonders of the Grotte de la Cocalière, located near Alès. This limestone cave boasts impressive rock formations, underground lakes, and delicate crystal formations. Guided tours lead you through the magical chambers, providing insights into the geological history and fascinating stories behind this natural treasure.
27. Local Festivals
Throughout the year, Alès and its surrounding towns host a variety of lively festivals that showcase the local culture and traditions. From music festivals and street performances to traditional celebrations and carnivals, there’s always something happening in the area. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and join in the merriment with the locals.
Enjoy a round of golf amidst the stunning landscapes of the Gard department. There are several golf courses in the area, offering both challenging and scenic playing experiences. Practice your swing, soak in the tranquil surroundings, and unwind in the beauty of nature while indulging in a game of golf.
29. Maison Rouge
Visit the Maison Rouge, a historic mansion located in the heart of Alès. This architectural gem showcases the elegant style of the 18th century and serves as a cultural and exhibition center. Explore the beautifully restored interior, admire the period furniture and art collections, and learn about the history of this magnificent building.
Places and Things To Do