Situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, the Cévennes, the Camargue and Provence, Sommières seduces with its traditional market! The colourful squares and streets of Sommières welcome numerous exhibitors all year round.
It is undoubtedly in the spring and summer when the typical market is particularly lively and attractive! At this twice weekly market (Saturday and Wednesday) you will find all the products and specialities from the region in addition to the traditional range of goods and clothing. An ideal opportunity to stock up on fresh products and adjourn to a café terrace to enjoy them with a glass of local wine! Nothing better to feel like a real Sommiérois!
Sommières was built around its river, the Vidourle. As early as Prehistory, men settled in the area and its surroundings. It was Roman Emperor August I in the 1st century AD who ordered the Tiberius Bridge to be built. The purpose of this 17-arch, 189-metre-long structure was to enable the Roman road Via Lutevia, which linked Nîmes to Toulouse, to span the Vidourle. Its present good state of preservation can be explained by the fact that it has been in coninual use for the past 2,000 years and it remains one of the few inhabited bridges in Europe!
In the Middle Ages, that inhabitants built on a major part of the bridge, integrating the arches into the construction of their homess. It was during the 10th -11th century that a castle was built high on a rock overhanging the town of Sommières. A square tower, the Brémond tower and a large part of the ramparts are still visible today. The construction of ramparts surrounding the town provided an effective defensive system and protection against the Vidourlades (famous Vidourle floods) Sommières thus became an important meeting and trading place for merchants, markets and fairs.
Craftsmanship developed most notably the tanning industry and the processing, manufacture and storage of woollen fabrics. The numerous mills on the banks of the Vidourle encouraged this trade expansion, which lasted until the 19th century.
After the French Revolution, the town continued to develop but the castle was allowed to fall into ruin. The textile industry continued to flourish. Many factories identifiable by their characteristic chimneys remain a testimony to this period even today.
Throughout its history, Sommières has remained a prosperous industrial town, working in the textile industry and has become famous for its aromatic essences. In addition, the famous Terre de Sommières (actually extracted in the small neighbouring village of Salinelles) has remained highly prized for its “stain removal” qualities which are no longer to be proven. Today, Sommières retains maze of magnificent medieval alleys, an attractive and properous morning market and many independant shopkeepers and craftsmen in its historic heart. Several of the historical architectural buildings remain ; the castle, the Roman bridge, the church of Saint-Pons, the belfry, the gates of Bourguet and Narbonne. The historic trail route around the castle, through the shady lanes and squares allow you to discover the rich and varied heritage of the town.