Established in the 4th century, the small town of Lodève in the Middle Ages was an important stop-over for Santiago pilgrims passing between the limestone plateau of the Larzac and the Mediterranean. Later, Lodève became one of the most flourishing textile towns in Languedoc.
Today the town is embraced by green hills and vine-laden terraces, nestling in a small valley where the Soulondres joins the Lergue. With only 7,500 residents, Lodève, which lies in the département of Hérault, has the atmosphere of a village, but with the facilities of a larger town. In the town centre you'll find numerous cafés, bars and restaurants, and plenty of shops selling ceramics, antiques, handmade leather, jewellery, art and sculpture. But the town is dominated by the ancient cathedral of St Fulcran, which has some beautiful stained glass windows, statues, marble and wood carving, and a crystal chandelier once owned by Queen Victoria.
Lodève is the birthplace of Cardinal de Fleury, prime minister of Louis XV, and of the sculptor Paul Dardé (1888-1963). The old covered market hall has been tastefully refurbished as an exhibition hall and renamed La Halle Dardé in his honour. This surrounding area offers superb countryside for walking, rock climbing and horse riding.
Lodève is one of 7 towns down the length of the A75 motorway, which go under the name of Les Perles Vertes, and promote themselves as stop-over places en route to the Med. Each is individually charming, and well worth a short visit.
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7 place de la République, 34700 Lodève
Tel: 04 67 88 86 44