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Saint or St Pons de Thomières - on the River Jaur

The town of St Pons de Thomières (or St Pons de Thomieres), in the Hérault department of southern France, lies on the source of the River Jaur. The town is interesting in that it marks the change of both climate and vegetation from the essentially hot and dry Mediterranean, the area from the town to the coast, to the more mountainous and cooler regions to the north and west of the town. In St Pons you have access to both, and the diversity of countryside around the town is fascinating. St Pons itself is a pretty and historic market town, typical of southern France, with some interesting historical buildings and the River Jaur running through it.

Large market

The market, which is held on Wednesday mornings in St Pons, is a particularly large and busy one even by French standards. It has such a reputation that people come to it from many nearby towns and villages, and the atmosphere is buzzy and colourful. Go to the market to purchase fresh fruit and veg... particularly the chestnuts for which St Pons is famed... and also to find surprisingly good quality clothes and linen. If you are looking to be self sufficient in France, the market can also provide the basis for this, with live chickens, seed vegetables and fruit trees also on sale.

Historic and natural sites to visit

St Pons has its share of historic sites, and these include the Tower of St Benoit, the Bridge of Our Lady, and the Convent of the Fountain of Récolets. If you are happy to travel a little further afield (and this wonderful area deserves further exploration), you can find the Canal du Midi nearby at Capestang, the lovely mediaeval town of Olargues, caves and grottos and the fabulous cities of Carcassonne and Béziers, both of which feature in Kate Mosse's best seller "Labyrinth". Then, of course, at only 37 miles (60 kilometres) distance is the Mediterranean, with the unique inner seas of the Étang de Thau, where the oysters and other sea foods are renowned, and where you can see beautiful flamingoes and other wading birds in their natural habitat.

Shops... and bars... and restaurants...

St Pons is not a particularly big town, but it does have a few good bars and cafés. As for shopping, you will have no problem in finding anything you may wish, as there are numerous small shops such as bakers, butchers, hairdressers etc. and banks and other useful amenities too. Just out of town you can even find a couple of superb Michelin starred restaurants! St Pons has cinema and a nightclub, so your social life is taken care of without having to go into a big city. For a great local experience, try to attend the festivals of the pig and the chestnut... both are local specialities and the yearly celebrations are an excellent taste of French life.

Sports and leisure

The diversity of the countryside around St Pons allows for all sorts of exciting opportunities for sporting activities. There are white water sports in the rushing waters of the River Orb, and walking, mountain biking and horse-riding trails in the forests above the town. You can fish, swim, sail and windsurf in the calm waters of the Lac Raviège, just over six miles (ten kilometres) away, or drive to the Med and spend a day in the warm waters and on the lovely beaches.

How to get there

You can fly to Montpellier or Carcassonne. Montpellier is served by Ryanair, British Airways and GB Airways, while Carcassonne is served by Ryanair. Or you can travel by train all the way to Montpellier which has a TGV station, with a change at Paris. Driving takes a long time as St Pons is really in the south of France, but having said that, driving is a pleasure with the excellent roads and auto routes of France.

Property prices availability in and around St Pons de Thomières

Property in the Hérault has recently become really quite expensive, as people who have been priced out of Provence have sought an alternative and discovered the delights of the department. St Pons, however, as it is situated some distance away from the coast, has maintained lower prices than much of the department, and therefore is an excellent place to look if budget is an issue. There are a great number of village house of all shapes and sizes as well as larger Maison de Maitre house with gardens, and both renovated and renovation properties out in the countryside.

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St Pons de Thomières AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS St Pons de Thomières?

St Pons de Thomières is set in the south of France, in the north-west of the Hérault department.

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Population: 3,000

Access: By air: Fly to Montpellier or to Carcassonne. By road: St Pons lies on the N112. By rail: Montpellier offers a TGV station, so you can travel by rail from the UK via Eurostar and the TGV.

Economy: The economy is mixed, with the weekly market of importance, and also the production of chestnuts and pork.

Interesting fact: St Pons offers perhaps the best value property in the Hérault, which is fast becoming the most expensive department of the Languedoc in which to buy property.


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