How to visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert?

26 May 2024

Brenda Helliot Circuits oenotouristiques région Occitanie
Brenda Helliot

World Heritage Site, with an authentic charm and spectacular scenery. Whether you’re looking for history, nature or gastronomy, this emblematic site of the Occitanie region has something to delight you.

How to visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert?

Visiting Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is like stepping back in time. The village is accessible from Montpellier by car and bus. For an even more enriching experience, why not opt for a guided tour? Once there, lose yourself in the charming alleyways, admire the medieval architecture, and visit the Gellone Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

La Grotte de Clamouse

The Grotte de Clamouse is a must-see if you want to visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert! Known for its spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations, it offers a fascinating plunge into the subterranean world. Classified as a “scientific and picturesque” site by the French Ministry of Ecology in 2005, it is also listed in the National Inventory of Geological Heritage. Guided tours highlight the cave’s geological peculiarities, such as the aragonite crystals, a particular type of concretion, forming veritable stone flowers. The impact on visitors is often profound, with a renewed appreciation for the beauty and power of nature.

Le Pont du Diable

To visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, you’ll need to cross the famous Pont du Diable, a masterpiece of medieval architecture dating back to 873 AD. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the bridge crosses the Hérault gorges, offering a breathtaking view of the river below. The Pont du Diable is also famous for its legends. The best-known of these tells how the inhabitants, desperate to see their bridge constantly destroyed by the waters, made a pact with the Devil: he would build the bridge in exchange for the first soul to cross it. One of the inhabitants was clever enough to get a dog across, thus fooling the devil. Today, this mythical site is perfect for a relaxing stroll, a swim, a canoe trip or a riverside picnic.

Local products

You can’t visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert without being drawn to its gastronomic delights and local produce. The gastronomy of the Occitanie region is rich and varied, and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a perfect example. The region is renowned for its high-quality local products, which are a reflection of its exceptional terroir. These delights include goat’s milk cheeses pâtés, and the famous locally-produced caviar. Tasting these products is a unique sensory experience, allowing you to discover the authentic flavors of Occitanie.

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Goat Cheese

The region’s goat cheeses are renowned for their rich, creamy taste. Handcrafted, they vary in flavor and texture, from fresh to more mature cheeses. During your visit, don’t miss the opportunity to sample these delights directly from local producers, at village markets or at “Les Fromages d’Emmanuelle”, a local boutique where a passion for cheese is at the heart of the business. The producers will be delighted to explain the production process and let you taste their finest creations.


Pâté occupies a special place in local gastronomy. Made using traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation, it is often prepared with pork and local spices, offering a rich, authentic flavor. You’ll find these artisanal products in local grocery stores and markets, and be sure to visit the “Le Panier Occitan” store, which specializes in handcrafted pâtés based on recipes handed down from generation to generation. You can also chat with the artisans to learn more about the secrets of their preparation, if they reveal them to you…


The caviar produced at Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a true marvel. After several years of research, Château Castillonne is now the only producer in the world to offer caviar whose eggs are extracted by Caesarean section under natural cold anesthesia. This innovative process enables eggs to be harvested without harming the sturgeon, guaranteeing a product of exceptional quality. Castillonne caviar is a unique blend of caviar matured for a year and freshly harvested caviar.

The Olive Oil Mill

To immerse yourself in the art of olive oil production, don’t miss a visit to a local mill. You’ll be lucky to find several in the vicinity of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, including Mas Palat in Gignac. This mill invites you to discover the secrets behind the production of this precious oil. You can also see the olive trees, understand how the olives are harvested, and witness the transformation of the olives into oil. A tasting of local olive oils will allow you to appreciate the subtleties and richness of the region’s flavors, with oils ranging from mild to intense.

Wine estate

Get to the heart of the Occitanie region’s terroir by exploring a local winery during your visit to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. Meet the winemakers at Domaine Mas Conscience and sample local AOP Terrasses du Larzac wines. This winery is renowned for its quality wines, produced with care and passion. The guided tour will take you through the vineyard and the winemaking process, from harvest to bottling, and you’ll be able to take part in a tasting session with expert commentary. You’ll learn to recognize the unique aromas and characteristics of the region’s wines.

Guided tour and Wine Tour: program

For an unforgettable day, here is a typical program for visiting Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert suggested by Brenda, tour guide for Destination Occitanie :

  1. Departure from Montpellier: Departure in a comfortable minibus for a small group, guaranteeing a personalized experience. Departure is usually in the early morning to make the most of the day at the Esplanade de l’Europe.
  2. Visit to an olive oil mill: First stop of the day, discover the olive oil production process. Visit the olive groves, learn how olives are harvested and transformed into olive oil. End the tour with a tasting of a variety of oils, from sweet to spicy.
  3. Discover the Pont du Diable: Next stop, the famous Pont du Diable. Learn about the history and legends surrounding this impressive monument.
  4. Lunch: Stop for lunch in the vineyards. Enjoy a lunch of local produce, accompanied by regional wines.
  5. Visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert: Arrive at the medieval village for a stroll through its picturesque streets. Visit the Gellone Abbey, admire the old stones and discover the fascinating history of this sacred site. Take the time to do a little shopping in the small boutiques selling local crafts.
  6. Caviar tasting: Discover caviar produced locally in a sturgeon farm. Take part in a caviar tasting.
  7. Visit to a winery: Last stop of the day, visit a winery renowned for its Terrasses du Larzac PDO wines. Discover the vineyard, the winemaking process and take part in a wine tasting.
  8. Return to Montpellier: Return at the end of the day, filled with memorable souvenirs. The return journey is an opportunity to relax and discuss the day’s highlights with your fellow passengers.

As you can see, when visiting Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert and discovering the authenticity and natural beauty of the Occitanie region, between its medieval streets, its cultural heritage with the Abbey of Gellone and the Devil’s Bridge, its natural treasures such as the Grotto of Clamouse and its gastronomic palette rich in flavors, every visitor will find something to marvel at. It’s a total immersion in history, nature and local cuisine, offering a memorable experience to all who travel its paths.

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