After a lifetime dedicated to fighting the Arabs, the companion of Charlemagne and count of Toulouse, Aquitaine, and Orange, Guillhaume Court Nez decided to renounce the world and live out his last years as a hermit. The site of his death around 812 became a place of pilgrimage and it is in this place that one now finds the abbey and medieval village that bear his name. This isolated village nestled in its narrow valley remains a remarkable historic site. The most notable building of the village is the abbey of Gellone whose doors open into the central square of the village opposite an ancient and beautiful plane tree. Most of the abbey dates from the 11th Century although the cloisters and bell tower were added about 100 years later. Sacked by protestants during the 16th Century, it later lost all its remaining relics to covetous clerics of surrounding towns. Located along the path of St Jean of Compostello, the abbey is currently maintained and used by a Carmelite community and is the site of occasional concerts as well as religious services. A path leads up to the ruined castle perched on the rocks overlooking the village and many other paths disappear among the cliffs and gorges that surround the village. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is located 48 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Montpellier.
Attractions & Landmarks, Religious