Today’s walk was the sentier de decouverte around Viols le Fort, starting with another reminder of this areas recent history.
The path started as a road in housing and soon became a stony track between dry-stone walls, with openings which looked like ancient doorways. There was even a small fossil! The vegetation was low-growing oaks and thorny bushes I didn’t recognise, as well as box, and for a while we enjoyed a distant view of Pic St Loup. The route here is a draille, a path for moving the sheep from summer to winter pasturage and in years gone by it was used by 160,000 animals each year; now there are barely 6,000.
We ‘discovered’ tombs. The first, dating to 3,800-2,300 BC, just looked like a pile of stones in a very stony area. The second dated from 2,800-2,300 BC. The third had a curious engraving on an upright stone, the Dolmen de Soulas. And there are many more similar remains in this area.
Soon we were in the garrigue again, with the insistent call of cicadas. This area is limestone (hence the small fossil) and easily worn away by water. Caves (avens) or sinkholes are found all over the limestone causses and a small sinkhole is appearing next to the path. Then, unexpectedly, a tall oak tree!
Near Cambous the sentier de decouverte passes a standing stone, followed by a limited view of the Chateau de Cambous. We had previously visited the prehistoric village of Cambous, but with the sun beating down we decided to return to Viols le Fort instead. (Pictures from a previous visit.)
We glimpsed the 16C-17C Chateau of Cambous over its wall, which carried a sad memorial.
It was a hot trudge along an uninteresting stretch of road back to Viols le Fort. This small Mediaeval hamlet, originally walled, is now expanding every year.
You may be interested in
An academic paper on Bronze Age monuments in the Hérault garrigue
A variation of this walk, with text and map
Dolmen de Soulas
A walk in this area
A database of megalithic sites
Information on Viols le Fort and its monuments
I would love to hear from you!