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of them decorated with scallop shells, the pilgrims emblem, and picturesque ancient houses lean against each under their sunbaked tiled roofs. Despite the name, you won’t see a desert, the name comes from the fact that not many people lived there centuries ago. Today it gets rather more crowded, especially in peak summer months, though it barely has more than 250 permanent residents. Step back in time A stone’s throw from the village you’ll find another incredible monument – the medieval Pont du Diable which arches high above a steep gorge. Legend has it that yet again Guilhem was the hero. The bridge was taking so long to build that Guilhem did a deal with the devil who agreed to get the job done in return for the first soul to cross after completion. Guilhem sent a dog across and the devil, in a fit of pique tried to destroy the bridge and fell into the gorge below which became known as the Gouffre Noir (the black abyss). To this day, pilgrims and locals crossing the bridge throw a stone into the gorge – to keep the devil on the bottom! Embedded in the hills are the remains of a Visigoth fortress and an old mule path, trod for centuries by pilgrims and today part of a hike that begins at the edge of the village on the rue du Bout-du-Monde - the street of the end of the world. And you can take a detour to visit the ruins of the Giant’s castle, a very peaceful spot with fabulous views. Janine Marsh visited Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert whilst on a CroisiEurope Rhone River tour from Sète to Arles, which includes excursions of the most iconic destinations en route. Azincourt1415.com 24 Rue Charles VI 62310 Azincourt and discover the past at Azincourt 1415 historic centre 52 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 53
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