The capitelles are a constant feature of the Saint-Chinian countryside. These small huts were created using the skillful dry-stone walling technique based on the cantilever principle and recognised worldwide for its strength and lack of need for sophisticated materials.
An energetic but easy walk climbs steeply out of the village and up to the windmill, turning right and following the escarpment for a several hundred metres before reaching an area of capitelles recently reconstructed and recreated by a local association of inspired and dedicated volunteers.
As the name implies, no mortar is used in this method of construction. Kilometres of dry-stone walls interspersed with these capitelles, created for storage and overnight shelter and playing a major role in the clearing of the terraced landscapes typical of this countryside, are testament to the unimaginable lifetimes of incessant, backbreaking labour involved in clearing the land of rocks and stones in preparation for cultivation in order to provide the most fundamental subsistence.
Cut back down through the old pass to return to the village, a circuit that will take between 60 minutes and 3 hours depending on your stamina and desire to linger, picnic and take in the fabulous views. Wild asparagus and bee-orchids, exquisitely-scented miniature wild narcissus, traveller’s joy, springtime nightingales and cuckoos, summer hoopoes and rollers, autumn buzzards and short-toed eagles, black redstarts, wild cherries, figs and plums simply add to nature’s treasure trove in this delightfully inspiring and captivating village.
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