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Barefoot Blogger in Sainte-Enimie

Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie and the Donkey Trail

One good thing leads to another when you take a day trip from Uzès to Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie in the Cévennes Mountains.

A Day Trip from Uzès

While on a quest to visit Sainte-Enimie, a Plus Beau Village in the Cévennes,  I passed towns and vistas where I had to stop to capture at least a photo. Cévennes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning natural landscapes.

The following week, at my French lesson, I shared some of the details of my adventure with my teacher. Deciphering my poorly spoken French enough to understand the gist of the story, she asked if I knew the French movie filmed in the Cévennes, “My Donkey, My Lover, and I,” an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s book Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes,.” 

I’d never heard of it.

I rented the movie and watched it that night. It’s delightful.

I have something new to add to my growing checklist of “things to do in France.” I’m anxious to trace the route of Robert Louis Stevenson through the Cévennes.

Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie Day trip from Uzes - the Cevennes

Robert Louis Stevenson and “Walking with a Donkey”

Robert Lewis Stevenson deeply loved adventure and travel. Author of “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped,” and “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” he often embarked on journeys to explore new places to find inspiration for his writing.

“Walking with a Donkey in the Cevennes,” published in 1879, describes Stevenson’s experiences on a 12-day hike through the Cévennes. Accompanied by a stubborn and often obstinate donkey named Modestine, Stevenson recounts his journey through the remote, picturesque region of France.

Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie

Along the Donkey Trail: Florac-Trois-Rivieres

Florac Trois-Rivières is in the Lozère department in the Occitanie region of southern France, in the Cévennes National Park.

Day trip from the Cevennes

Nestled beside the Tarn River in a valley, Florac-Trois-Rivieres is surrounded by picturesque mountains, including the Mont Lozère, the highest peak in the Cévennes.

Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

Stevenson’s time in Florac-Trois-Rivieres and the surrounding mountain area inspired him. The journey allowed him to reflect on personal matters and contemplate the more critical questions of life.

“Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes” was one of his most famous works and contributed to his reputation as a travel writer. The book captured the imagination of readers with its vivid descriptions of the region and its people, and it continues to be a popular travel narrative.

Since I was passing through Florac-Trois-Rivieres on my way to Le Saint Enimie, I missed visiting the town’s notable landmarks. Now that I know there’s a medieval castle — Château de Florac — that dates back to the 13th century, and Mont Lozèr with all the outdoor activities, I shall return.

Sainte-Enimie Le Plus Beau Village de France

The drive from Florac to Sainte-Enimie, through the Gorges du Tarn in the Cévennes National Park, was spectacular. When I reached Sainte-Enimie, I was ready to dip my toes into the Tarn River. Instead, I couldn’t wait to explore the town.

Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie

Sainte-Enimie designated a “Plus Beaux Villages de France” (Most Beautiful Villages of France), joins the prestigious list of villages in France that possess exceptional cultural and historical heritage and outstanding natural beauty. The title is given by an independent association to help promote and preserve the legacy of these remarkable villages.

This Plus Beau Village was named for a legendary figure from the 7th century. The story goes that Sainte-Enimie was a Merovingian princess who fled an arranged marriage and sought refuge in the Gorges du Tarn, where she lived a devout and virtuous life. She was known for her piety and for performing miracles and eventually becoming the abbess of a local convent. After her death, she was venerated as a saint, and the village and abbey were named in her honor.

It is often mentioned that Sainte-Enimie was afflicted with leprosy. The stories say she was miraculously cured of the disease, further enhancing her reputation as a saint. Leprosy was prevalent during medieval times, and many saints were associated with miracles and healings of the disease. The historical accuracy of the credit given Sainte-Enimie is uncertain.

Sainte-Enimie Today

Sainte-Enimie is an example of well-preserved medieval architecture with its narrow cobblestone streets and charming stone houses. I wandered through the town for a glimpse into the village’s past.

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The Abbey of Sainte-Enimie, established in the 7th century, is a significant historical and religious landmark. The abbey features beautiful Romanesque architecture and a 12th-century crypt. It served as a center of religious and cultural life in the region for centuries.Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie trip from Uzes to the Cevennes Located near the abbey, the Church of Sainte-Enimie is another architectural gem. This Romanesque church dates back to the 11th century and contains notable features like a carved tympanum and a bell tower.

Pont Notre Dame is a well-preserved medieval bridge that stands as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of medieval builders. The bridge played a crucial role in connecting the two sides of the Tarn River in Sainte-Enimie, providing a vital link between different regions. The Pont Notre Dame was a key crossing point for pilgrims traveling through the area along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The bridge is a tangible link to the medieval past and is a cherished monument in the region.

Le Plus Beau Village Sainte-Enimie trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

Need more reasons to visit the Cévennes?

For photographers: Picturesque gorges, rivers, and rolling hills are non-stop attractions to every photographer.

For outdoor activities: Nature enthusiasts will find opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and exploring the breathtaking scenery.

For history lovers: The Cévennes region has a rich history, with traces of human habitation dating back to prehistoric times. It played a significant role in various historical events, including the Wars of Religion and the Camisard revolt in the 17th and 18th centuries.

For gastronomes: A few examples of the gastronomic delights in the Cévennes region are chestnuts, charcuterie, aligot, Pélardon cheese, wine, and Fouace  — a traditional sweet bread.

Visit Cévennes Tourism 

Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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