Saint-Gilles Tourist Attractions
St-Gilles lies not far beyond the western border of Provence on the northern edge of the Camargue, 16km/10mi from Arles. The town is primarily important because of its 12th C. church, one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Southern France.St-Gilles is a starting-point for trips into the Camargue.
In the heart of Saint-Gilles Old Town stands the church, erected in the 12th C. and restored on a smaller scale in the 17th C. The west front is exceptionally fine (the light at its best in the late afternoon) with its three doorways and wealth of decorative figures, which include the first detailed representation of the Passion in Western sculpture. The damage inflicted on the church during the French Revolution makes the importance of its architecture all the more significant.The entrance to the crypt is on the right of the facade. The interior of the church, which has three aisles but no transepts, is characterized by Gothic forms which are surprisingly broad for this period.
Saint Gilles - Vis de St Gilles
In Saint Gilles, to the left of the church facade a narrow lane leads to the ruins of the old Choir, which was destroyed in the 17th C. Here is the Vis de St- Gilles (Screw of St Gilles), a now free-standing staircase dating from the 12th C. The complicated shape of the spiral staircase in the interior of the building is an incredible masterpiece of the stonemason's art. Also to be seen here are the remains of the old apse (the bases of pillars, etc.)
Saint Gilles - Maison Romane de Saint-Gilles
In Saint Gilles, from the open space in front of the church (Place de la République) a narrow lane leads to the charming little Place de l'Olme. Here stands the Maison Romane (Romanesque House) which has capitals decorated with figures to be seen on its first and second storys. Inside there is a museum with an early Christian sarcophagus, relief fragments and a natural history collection. From the hall on the second floor there is a fine view across the roofs of St-Gilles. Immediately adjoining is the tourist office.