|Intercommunality||Lodévois et Larzac|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Joëlle Goudal|
|7.56 km2 (2.92 sq mi)|
|• Density||4.6/km2 (12/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||89–350 m (292–1,148 ft) |
(avg. 100 m or 330 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
The village sits on the bank of Lac du Salagou. When the barrage that created the lake was built (1964–68), the intention was to raise the water level in two stages—first to 139m, then to 150m. The second stage would have engulfed the village of Celles, which is at a mean altitude of 144m, and accordingly the village and its vineyards were officially abandoned. The first stage of water level left the water lapping at the foot of the village without encroaching on any structures. The second stage was never implemented, so a few villagers re-occupied the Mairie, repairing public buildings in order that the status of Celles as a commune would be preserved. However, the French authorities are allowing the village to decay and all buildings except the Mairie and the church are in ruins. It is a popular place for fishing and picnics.
In 1990, the city council, hoping to "move" the department to revitalize the village, called on the general council, owner of the ruins, to secure them in the name of public safety. The expected result - the restoration of the houses - actually led to a crystallization action of the village, with a concreting of the ridges and laying fences around the houses. It was not until 1996 that the department took the official decision to permanently maintain the rating 139. From the beginning, some of the former inhabitants fought to maintain the status of commune in Celles, and regularly maintained and renovated communal buildings, not expropriable
The ruined village has served as a backdrop for several feature film scenes, notably the 1985 thriller Zone Rouge (Red Zone).
In September 2017 a scheme was announced for the repopulation of Celles. The village will be partially rebuilt, connected to the water and telephone systems, and 119 people will move in in time for the 50th anniversary of the abandonment, September 2019.
Politics and administration
- "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- Celles, le village sauvé des eaux du Salagou, va renaître --France Bleu Hérault, 28 September 2017
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