Tales and beliefs of the lost civilization

La Cité de Pierres in Montpellier-le-Vieux has been the subject of many legends and beliefs since antiquity, thanks to the strange and fantastic shapes of its architecture. .

The old stories about the city are among the most fascinating stories of the Occitan region.

The name

The name Montpellier-le-Vieux is said to come from the travelling shepherds of the Languedoc plains. They would have given it the nickname of their reference city by adding the term “vieux” as a reflection of the ruined nature of this ghost city. In the Occitan language, the nickname of the capital of Hérault is “Lou Clapas” which means “pile of stones”. However, in this language “vieux (old)” is “vielh” (pronounced biel) and also refers to the Devil in the imaginary and wonderful world of folk stories. In fact, many rocks once bore the name of the Devil before Martel renamed them according to his erudite imagination. Thus “The Eye of the Devil” (“L'Oeil du Diable”) (today “La Porte de Mycènes”) and also the whole site which was once called “La Cité du Diable” (“The City of the Devil”). In the Middle Ages in Occitan, history often attributed the gigantic works to satanic beings or giants. "Lo Clapas Vielh" also came from "Lo Clapas del Vielh" (The Devil's Stones). But finally the underlying origins come from the notions of City and Stones and therefore it became “La Cité de Pierres” (“The City of Stones”).

The Fairies

Another legend says that la Cité de Pierres sheltered three fairies from the southern garrigues to escape Mourghi, an evil spirit who wanted to harm them. Amy the thoughtful, Amyne the dreamer and Benjamin the joker arrived one evening in May. They very quickly built a citadel with ramparts, streets, palaces, bridges and squares. To complete the scenery, they planted pine trees, some oak trees, and a lot of wild grasses and wildflowers. All of this was a world of entanglement in which Mourghi, despite being cunning, became lost and so gave up his hunt. Then began a long period of peace, happiness and quiet joy for the fairies. But little by little the nostalgia for the garrigues became too strong and they returned near the sea and the sun.  The city then fell asleep in their absence. Then, undoubtedly summoned by some devil, the wind, rain and snow raged through the now dead city. The fairies left but their memory still lives in the city. The song of the birds, the sound of the wind, the bells of the herds, the echoes of Benjamin's laughter. This tree with its tortured trunk on the edge of the precipice, the image of the evil Mourghi. And this strange atmosphere, the image of Amyne's dream. The fairies are still there, masters of dreams.

A legendary film: “La Grande Vadrouille”

One of the iconic scenes of Gérard Oury's legendary film, released in 1966, was shot at la Cité de Pierres. The scene in which Bourvil carries Louis de Funès on his shoulders and which had the honour of being the film's poster. The shots were taken at the Roc du Corridor (4), then at the Remparts (20) and finally at the Porte de Mycènes (17). Originally the scene was planned differently, but on the morning of the shooting, Louis de Funès suggested that Bourvil get off the wall onto his back and hit his helmet. This scene called “et ben dis donc” has become a momentous clip.

L'Arche des Mystères (The Arch of Mysteries)

It is an Explor’Game, a game of exploration and adventure, combining orientation, challenges and puzzles with the help of a tablet: explore, discover, feel and imagine the city and its legends.
Discover L'Arche des Mystères, the Explor’Game of la Cité de Pierres.

La Région Occitanie
Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses
Sites d'exception en Languedoc
Aveyron Vivre Vrai
Explore Millau

La Cité de Pierres in Montpellier-le-Vieux

“The Causse Noir is the richest of all runiform rock masses: Montpellier-le-Vieux, the region’s capital...is one of the most remarkable rock cities in the world”
Edouard Alfred Martel

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La Cité de Pierres
Lieu dit Le Maubert
12100 Millau - France
+33 (0)5 65 60 66 30

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