Discovering Vagnas and its natural and wine-growing environment means immersing yourself in the history of southern Ardèche from the age of dressed stone to today.
Bordering on Salavas, Labastide-de-Virac, Barjac (Gard), Bessas and Grospierres, Vagnas has a habitat scattered over a town and several hamlets, the most important of which is Brujas.
The oldest houses in the village, grouped around Place Urbain-Thévenon, date from the 14th century. The large building opposite the town hall is the castle of the priors, who were also lords of Vagnas.
The nineteenth century will be the golden age of Vagnas thanks to the silkworm and the exploitation of the oil shale mine which employed a hundred people.
At present, the economy of the municipality is articulated around agriculture (vine, cereals, vegetable crops), tourism and craft businesses.
A village steeped in history
Archaeological excavations carried out in the 1970s by SERAHV revealed a human presence in Vagnas from the Neolithic era. The vestiges of the past are numerous: dolmen of Champagnac testimony of the Paleolithic, Gallo-Roman furniture on several sites attest the existence of Roman villas, priory of the Monastier… Like all the villages of the region, Vagnas was surrounded by walls intended to protect the village of looters. Because they could play a military role and because Vagnas was predominantly Protestant, Louis XIII had them razed in 1629. Only a few relics (notably a gunboat) remain against the street to the south of the village. The wars of religion completed the work and the village, which in the meantime had become Catholic, was burnt down in 1703 by the troops of the Camisard Jean Cavalier. The walls of the oldest houses still bear traces of the fire.
Medieval museum of Vagnas
Inaugurated in February 2020, the Medieval Museum “Le temps de Vagnas” presents the collection of exceptional medieval liturgical furniture resulting from excavations carried out over 17 years in the priory of Saint-Pierre, at a place called Le Monastier. In the outdoor patio, panels present the remarkable points of the village and the territory of Vagnas, prehistory, the battle of Vagnas, the family of the de Lacroix de Vagnas de Castries, the epic of silk and the mine of Vagnas. Protected by a shelter, a planter, emblematic vehicle of the region at the beginning of the last century. The museum is open every day except Sunday. Contact: 00 33 6 01 82 81 40.
Favorite: the Monastier hike
With this 7.6 km loop hike starting from the center of the village of Vagnas, you will follow in the footsteps of the monks of the year 1000, visit the ruins of the Monastier, discover a charming restored monks’ washhouse and the Rieusset valley.
You can find a description of this family walk in the Pont d’Arc-Ardèche / Gorges de l’Ardèche topo-guide (sheet 25).
Find out more on the village web site.