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Les carrières de Junas
Careers of Bon TempsLes carrières du Bon Temps QuarriesA grandiose, magical site forged by over 2000 years of rock extraction using manual operations that have not changed over time. Curiosity and amazement combine with the peace and quiet of this magnificent space, where man worked for centuries and nature has now taken back over. This is an ideal space for a family outing in the Gard. Adults discover an impressive, interesting setting and children find it an infinite playground! This site seems indeed to be perfectly natural. Peace and quiet reign and the beauty of nature comes across as magical, almost unreal. And yet, these quarries, known as the Carrières du Bon Temps result from unceasing work by man since Roman times. The quarries are named after the hollows where they have been dug, for this valley has long been called La combe du Bon temps. The countless cubic meters of rock dug from these quarries have served to build the Pont de Sommières and the towns of Aigues-Mortes and Le Vigan.The method of extracting the rock has remained unchanged since the beginning of operations at these quarries which goes back to the Gallo-Roman period. Operations then continued uninterrupted until the mid-1900’s, when the quarries shut down. The working method consisted in making vertical incisions in the rock and loosening the masses to extract using a wedge and a sledge hammer. This method produced big bricks known as bugets which were approximately 18 cm thick, 50 cm long and 30 cm wide. These rocks were then transported out of the quarry to be finished. The repeated blows have left indelible marks in the stone here. Given this understanding of the working method, gazing at these old quarries leaves visitors dumbfounded thinking about the colossal, extremely physical work which required both immense savoir-faire and physical strength, and which has left its imprint on this gorgeous site forever!The site was rehabilitated in 1987 by a small group of villagers who organized in the Association les Carrières du Bon Temps. Many festivities take place here including a well-known annual jazz festival entitled the "Jazz à Junas" festival in July. Also, since 1988, JUNAS has been holding annual meetings on stone, known as the Rencontres de la Pierre where for the past 24 years many different types of interest in stone gather to discuss history, techniques and expertise of the fascinating trades related to stone. These meetings bring together neophytes, passionate amateurs and professional stone cutters. These quarries, the Carrières de Junas are open to all. The marked trails here provide magnificent hikes and walks, and strong cultural heritage amidst magnificent views. Home to a Jazz festival in July.
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