The Vidourle river and the probable
existence of a ford to across it linking
the Mediterranean to the Causses
people here since time
immemorial, as can be seen from the
archaeological remains discovered
upstream in the valley of the Vidourle.
The Roman emperor Tiberius had it
built in the first century AD and the
city grew up around it.
189 metres long with 17 arches,
the bridge opened the way from
Nîmes in the east and Toulouse
and Lodève in the west ( Montpellier did
not yet exist).
The castle of Sommières was built
in the tenth century and occupied by
Bernard III of Anduze.
Sommières was a mediaeval city,
parts of which still remain.
References to it are found in
the history of southern France.
In the Middle Ages, the population was
round the castle which
refuge and protection.
The industry of the town
developed round leather-working.
The tanners set up their workshops
in the riverbed to use the water.
They built their dwellings on
the arches of the Roman bridge,
high up to be out of the way of the
notorious flash floods of the Vidourle.
This architecture is typical
of the lower town.
The streets at right angles
are arranged so that the
flood waters can flow down to what is
now the Place des Docteurs Dax
(or Place du Marché).
Annexed to the kingdom of France
in 1248 after Louis IX (Saint Louis)
defeated the Comte de Toulouse
(whom the lords of Sommières were related to),
the town, like the rest of the region
during the wars of religion
endured a period of violence and
severe conflicts throughout the
15 th and 16 th centuries.
All that remains now of the castle,
which was used as a prison after the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes and
left derelict after the Revolution,
are ruins except for the tower which is
in very good condition and can be visited.