Here in the Languedoc region in the south of France, a circulade is a traditional village that has been built in concentric circles. Our home base of Caux is a ville circulade. Unique to the Languedoc region, the centre of the village is often the site of a château-fort or a parish church. In the case of Caux, the romanesque church of St. Gervais with its impressively renovated bell tower has the place of honour at the centre of the village. However, it is not uncommon for this central space to now be empty.

These highly structured circulade plans were not identified as a unique urbanistic phenomenon until 1992, but they are medieval in origin, dating from the eleventh and twelfth centuries, two full centuries earlier than the bastides of the region. They are thought to be the first example of urban development of the Middle Ages.

The circular form provides an obvious means of protection against marauders. Roman arenas and amphitheatres were also circular or oval, and these would have influenced local construction. The circular model could also have been the influence of different invaders – there are examples of circular towns in Iraq and ancient Persia, including Baghdad. Islamic fortification was admired in France in the Middle Ages and would have been discovered during the time of the crusades.

Here is a list of just some of the circulades that you can cycle to one a day ride from Caux:

  • Abeilhan
  • Alignan du Vent
  • Balaruc le Vieux
  • Boujan sur Libron
  • Fabrègues
  • Fouzilhon
  • Frontignan
  • Margon
  • Murviel les Béziers
  • Nézignan l’Evêque
  • Paulhan
  • Poussan
  • Le Pouget
  • Puéchabon
  • Puimisson
  • Puissalicon
  • Saint-Geniès de Fontedit
  • Saint Géniés le Bas
  • Saint-Jean-de-Fos
  • Saint Pargoire
  • Saint Pons de Mauciens
  • Siran
  • Thézan les Béziers