La Garde-Adhemar Tourist Attractions
In the 13th C. La Garde came into the possession of the Adhémar family who also had a castle at Grignan in the 11th C. Since the 13th C. La Garde has borne their family name. Situated on the edge of the heights of the Tricastin above the Rhône valley (about 20km/12mi south of Montélimar and 17km/10.5mi west of Grignan) its beautiful position is best appreciated if it is approached from Grignan through the Val des Nymphes.Outside the town on the north there is a parking lot from which the modest little town can be explored. Parts of the medieval town wall have been preserved in the northeast, including two town gates. From the main door of the Church of St- Michel, one of the important monuments of the district, there is a fine view of the Rhône valley and the outlying hills of the Viverais, with the Dent de Rez (719m/2,360ft) among them.
A chapel dedicated to St-Michel in La Garde-Adhémar is mentioned as early as 1105, but the present church was certainly not built until 40 years later (at the same time as the church in Bourg- St-Andéol on the other side of the Rhône, and the Cathedral in St- Paul-Trois-Châteaux). The church was restored in 1849/50 at the instigation of Prosper Mérimée.With its simple clear architectural forms St-Michel, although situated in the extreme south of the Dauphiné, is typical of Provençal Romanesque - a lack of figure- decoration, little articulation and masonry precisely shaped and assembled. Its three aisles form a square, on the east side are three apses but no transept. The nave has a barrel-roof and the side aisles a quarter-barrel which relieves the weight of the vault. Only the south wall and the apses have embrasure- like windows, so that practically the only light entering the building comes through the door. The west apse is an extremely rare feature in French Romanesque. In constrast to the rest of the church the tower bears on a massive square base a delicate octagon (the arches of the arcades have ovoid decoration and rest on pilasters with capitals modeled on those of antiquity). The west front, too, has bands of relief work, but these were probably added in the 19th C.
Chapelle de Val-des-Nymphes
Two kilometers east of St-Michel chapel, on the D572 A are the ruins of the 12th C. Chapelle de Val-des-Nymphes set in a green valley abounding in water. In Gallo-Roman days this spot was probably a pagan shrine, as the name implies. The roof and arches of the single-aisled Romanesque chapel are lacking. The west front is remarkable; above simple wall surfaces - the arch of the doorway has keystones from a Roman building - the tympanum has three niches, separated by fluted pilasters with imitation Classical capitals. The arches which support the corner pilasters are later additions. Of interest is the articulation of the choir apse by blind arcades on two levels.