GPS: 44.3992805, 04.0969387
Naves village and church
Lying in the south of the Ardèche department, two kilometres from Les Vans, a town to which it became annexed in 1972, Naves is a small medieval hamlet, in the foothills of the Cévennes National Park, as well as part of the Monts d'Ardèche Regional Natural Park. Naves is one of the Ardeche “villages de caractère” which undoubtedly deserves to be visited. Cars are not allowed to enter the village of Naves, it is a pedestrian village, but parking is permitted along the road below the entrance.
Naves is now surrounded by hills planted with olive trees and some vines, but like many medieval villages it once played a defensive role. There have been three castles built in Naves but only the third of these castles, built to the southwest in the 12th century, away from the village, survived for any time and although now in ruins still it is possible to see many traces of its remains. The castle was made up of a ring of houses connected by a surrounding wall: the largest was that of the lords of Naves.
In common with many villages in the Ardèche, Naves experienced its heyday in the mid-19th century with the development of silkworm farming. The village is much quieter now and you can wander through its narrow, cobbled streets and arched passages which make this small hamlet a real haven of peace. On your way keep your eyes open and you will discover cascading floral gardens, the village square, a steep narrow staircase, a Cévennes chimney as well as the Romanesque church built in the 11th century, under the name of Saint-Jacques le Majeur. The bell tower is made of sandstone.
Now listed as a historic monument, the church of Naves was mentioned in 1096 in an act of cession from the bishop of Uzès to the abbot of Saint-Ruf d'Avignon. It was returned in 1201 by the abbot of Saint-Ruf to another bishop of Uzès.
The Wars of Religion did not spare the church; in 1570, the Protestants destroyed the vaults and left the building in ruins for almost 40 years, before its restoration at the beginning of the 17th century.
More adventurous hikers will be able to discover, near the source of the Bourdaric river, a tributary of the Chassezac river, the cave of La Baume Bâtie, which in the 18th century during the religious wars, became a refuge for nine refractory priests.
Naves has a Mediterranean climate, dry in summer, but can be cold in winter due to being located on the southeastern slopes of the Massif Central. Thunderstorms are violent and the streams transform immediately into a torrent tearing everything out in its path.
The town of Les Vans is just a short walk away (1km, 2km by car) with its vibrant market every Saturday.