Saint-Chély-du-Tarn is absolutely adorable. Located on the road that goes along the Gorges du Tarn, this tiny village is the perfect stop on any road trip in this area in Southern France. Although you can see all attractions in the village in a couple of hours, the place could also serve as a base to discover the greater area of the Causses and the Cévennes, which is included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Saint-Chély-du-Tarn can be easily reached by car from the bigger places in the region. Millau is only at 50 km, Sainte-Enemie is at 5 km and Florac at 37 km.
To enter the village you’ll be crossing the imposing single arched bridge. The arch is 39 m high. The bridge was opened in 1903, 2 years before the road that goes along the river was finished in 1905. Before that, there were no roads and the locals used flat-bottomed boats for transportation. They say, that some of the little hamlets (like Hauterive and La Croze) along the Tarn didn’t want to have a bridge and this is how they still remain, not accessible by road, but only by boat.
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When you enter the village, you can best park your car near the church at the designated parking and discover the village on foot.
The Parochial Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Notre-Dame de l’Assomption) of Saint-Chély-du-Tarn is a fine example of Medieval Romanesque architecture. It was built around 11th – 12th century and was mentioned for the first time in historical documents in 1155.
Just take your time to stroll along the narrow cobbled streets and make sure to climb to the highest point of the village for some lovely views.
For even more pretty views get down to the river, from where you can admire the stately bridge over the Tarn River and the two waterfalls dashing as if from under the houses perched on the rocks. At this place the river is very calm, so you can swim there. There is also a pebble beach on the river bank.
Another place that deserve the attention is the Chapel of Cénaret. Built half-way into the rocks, this little chapel is what they call ‘semi-troglodyte‘ architecture. The backside of the chapel is actually a cave and only a façade is built on the front side. The nave of the chapel dates back to the 12th century. The chapel is actually built at the entrance to a cave with an underground lake.
On the way to the Chapel you can stop at the Mill of Cenaret (Le Moulin de Cénaret). How cool is that to have your own spring at one corner of the house? This Medieval watermill is converted today into a lovely boutique shop where you can buy local artisanal products.
When we visited Gorges du Tarn, we spent a few times a few hours in the village, as it soon became my favorite place to walk around. We tried the food at Eden Bar and we loved it. It’s an unpretentious place, a few hundred meters down the road behind the church. In the summer there are also rock concerts in the evenings. Another lovely place to eat in Saint-Chély-du-Tarn is the restaurant at the Auberge de la Cascade, which is a nice hotel with a swimming pool.
Lots of houses in the village are rented out as holiday homes, the so-called ‘gîtes’, during the summer. So why not rent a house from where you can discover the breathtaking canyon on the Tarn River (Gorges du Tarn) with its lovely villages and the pastoral landscapes of the Causses and the Cévennes, with the Cévennes being also one of the national parks in France.
Check out the prices and the availability of this small selection of holiday homes (‘gîtes’) in Saint-Chély-du-Tarn: