Bridge over the Gardon
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Michel Anthérieu|
|41.64 km2 (16.08 sq mi)|
|• Density||65/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||168–817 m (551–2,680 ft) |
(avg. 189 m or 620 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
This city of the Cévennes, first mentioned in a 12th-century papal bull (San Johannis de Gardonnenca cum villa), was very much influenced by Protestantism in the 16th century and became the Mecca of the camisards' resistance.
Thanks to the silk industry, the village experienced a period of prosperity that lasted from the 19th century to the 20th century. This city now owes much of its economy to tourism. A heritage railway runs from Saint-Jean-du-Gard to Anduze with a stop at the Bambouseraie de Prafrance, which attracts 150,000 tourists a year.
The Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson reached the town on 3 October 1878, as recounted in his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. Here he sold his donkey Modestine, and took a stagecoach to Alès:
It was a long descent upon St. Jean du Gard, and we met no one but a carter, visible afar off by the glint of the moon on his extinguished lantern. Before ten o'clock we had got in and were at supper; fifteen miles and a stiff hill in little beyond six hours! ... On examination, on the morning of October 4th, Modestine was pronounced unfit for travel. She would need at least two days' repose according to the ostler; but I was now eager to reach Alais for my letters; and, being in a civilised country of stagecoaches, I determined to sell my lady-friend and be off by the diligence that afternoon. Our yesterday's march, with the testimony of the driver who had pursued us up the long hill of St. Pierre, spread a favourable notion of my donkey's capabilities. Intending purchasers were aware of an unrivalled opportunity. Before ten I had an offer of twenty-five francs; and before noon, after a desperate engagement, I sold her, saddle and all, for five-and-thirty. The pecuniary gain is not obvious, but I had bought freedom into the bargain.
- "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- Stevenson, Robert Louis (1905) . . Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. – via Wikisource.
- Castle, Alan (2007). "Stage 12 – Saint-Germain-de-Calberte to Saint-Jean-du-Gard". The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail (2nd ed.). Cicerone. pp. 171–182. ISBN 978-1-85284-511-7.
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