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Reliance on coal

Ales is the Gard department's second largest town with a population of just over 40,000. It is dubbed the 'black town' for its heavy reliance on the coal industry. The locals have been employed down the mines since the 13th Century. The last coal was dug out in 1986 leaving an economically diverse town in its wake. The town would now rather be referred to as the southern gateway to the Cevennes, a vast area rich in flora in fauna. A national park was created here in 1970.

A colourful town

The centre of Ales is a splendid place to relax with its pedestrianised streets and bustling esplanades. Make sure you are around in the summer months when the town has its annual festival to celebrate the best of Ales' culture.

Where to go

The Parc National des Cevennes has been given the thumbs up by Unesco for its careful preservation of animals and plants. Red dear, beavers and vultures are just some of the creatures frolicking around 2250 species of plant. During winter, cross-country skiing on over 100km of marked trails is popular. At any time of year, however, caving, cycling, gliding, horse riding, kayaking, canoeing and mountain climbing are all on offer.

An interesting mix

There are three other exhibits in the area that must not be missed. The first is the Musee du Desert, which focuses on the Camisard people and their way of life. They were Protestants who waged a guerrilla war against Louis XIV's troops. The second is the Bamboueraie de Prafrance. This surreal collection of Asian buildings and aquatic gardens (complete with over 150 species of bamboo) can be reached via a steam railway. Lastly, the Mine Temoin is one of the few museums that ask their visitors to wear safety helmets. It is located deep underground where you will be shown glimpses of life as a coal miner.

How to get there

There is an airport in Nimes, which has regular Ryanair flights from the UK. British Airways and GB Airways fly to Montpellier airport, just over the border in Herault. If you'd prefer to travel by train, the TGV service runs from Calais to Paris and from Paris to Nimes.

Ales property prices

The Gard region in general is very popular and prices are increasing. At the time of writing we have a three bedroomed restored Maison du Village for €295,000.

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Ales is centrally placed in the north of the Gard department.

Ales Property Map


Languedoc-Roussillon Guide

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Gard Guide

  Gard Map

Population: 41,000

Access: The nearest airports are Nimes and Montpellier. They also both have TGV stations.

Economy: Employment in the area is mostly service and industry based with less dependence on agriculture than many areas of France.

Interesting fact: The local nature reserve is home to 2250 species of plant alone.


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