Right in the Gorges du Tarn, Sainte Enimie is a lovely little village sitting on the hillside of the Causse de Sauveterre – the major limestone plateau of Lozere. It covers only 85 km² but has plenty of activities on offer, let alone the outstanding sceneries nearby. Ste Enimie is indeed within a stone throw from other important towns of the Gevaudan like Chanac, Ispagnac and Quezac.
Sainte Enimie nestles in the quaint region of the Gevaudan, where legends, traditions and other medieval heritage are still part of the Santrimiols’ way of life. The area is indeed highly rooted in past history – the very name of the town originating from a princess who was treated off the leprosy disease with the local mineral water in the 5th century.
Daily life in Ste Enimie recalls former times, when dairymen and breeders were travelling making the most of the Causses and the Gorges, leading their livestock, planting vines and fruit trees, building typical houses on the hillside. The 500 inhabitants of Sainte Enimie are still very touched by historical heritage and the town council itself is willing to develop.
Thanks to the highly regarded Gorges du Tarn (cliffs of the Tarn valley), the area has been luring an increasing number of visitors. Thus, property in Sainte Enimie – overlooking the river Tarn – has been more and more sought after, the property market now including half main houses half second or holiday homes.
As a consequence, this little commune has developed and now, Sainte Enimie comprises 25 hamlets surrounding the main market town, either to the north in the Causse’s pastures (Sauveterre, La Périgouse) or along the river Tarn (Prunets, Chaldas). Such surroundings are mainly appreciated by letting-business investors or retirees who long for quietness and nature. Gites and chambres d’hotes are indeed good investments as Sainte Enimie is a popular port of call when touring the south of Lozere or driving southwards to Millau.
In terms of property prices, surrounding rural houses are cheaper than medieval-style town houses, although they include generally larger living space and plot of land. Allow about €1,000/ sq m in hamlets around Sainte Eminie against €1,500/ sq m within the market town. Prices are literally soaring when it comes to castles and chateaux (up to €2,300/ sq m, given that such properties include at least 10 rooms and hectares of land).
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If Ste Enimie was originally a discreet yet prosperous agricultural centre, Gorges du Tarn route has been orienting the local economy to tourism from the early 20th century. Since then, locals have been teaching the Gevaudan “art de vivre” to visitors – and especially foreigners who are more sensitive to this simple, friendly and rustic way of life.
Perfect location: due to its central position, a mere 20km away from Chanac, 78km from Millau (and its terrific viaduct), Ste Enimie benefits from many transport links. Either riding or walking on ancient roads to Aubrac (that shepherds used to follow to reach pastures), or using the more recent national roads D907, D986 and the nearby A75 motorway, you will quickly reach some other quaint communes such as La Canourgue, La Malène, Quézac, Marvejols or Aven Armand – and its prehistoric sites and caves.
Historical heritage: from Ste Enimie’s Benedictine abbey to nearby authentic dolmens, the area abounds with witnesses from the past. Market-town houses as well as rural properties built in the Causse recall the former agricultural activity of Sainte Enimie (producing fruits, wine, and wool). The Burle Fountain (which cured Princess Enimie according to the legend), the 12th century church and nearby authentic chateaux are also worth it.
Scenery and eco-tourism: the major asset of Sainte Enimie is definitely the surrounding settings – lush vegetation, limestone rocks, craggy relief. Eco-friendly tourism has thus been pretty developed there, offering mostly alternative holiday deals like climbing and potholing on natural sites, hiking and mountain biking paths, angling and boating in the Tarn river to give but a few.
Sainte Enimie boasts some remaining medieval buildings with underground stone corridors, vaulted structures and, of course, lovely stone houses in the market town itself. But as the commune also includes farther little villages, huge rural homes adapted to the natural setting are also common.
Causse houses: originally owned by farmers or breeders, these homes are sitting on the hillside and include huge “terraces” manually built by the owners for their livestock when the animals could not go to the pastures. These typical terraces look like stairs amid the steep rocky setting.
Limestone houses: as Sainte Enimie is part of the Causses, most farmhouses were made up from the local limestone. These white-walled houses are generally narrow and long, and with a simple one-storied layout. The architecture features vaulted structures and very thick stone walls to support the typical heavy roofs made from the local lauze, kind of flat stone tile (looking like slate but heavier). Another asset is the outdoor stone stairs leading to the upper floor which did not waste living space inside, they are now often complemented with indoor stairs during renovation though. As the ground floor used to host the livestock, walls do comprise only small openings on the first level – implying that the houses are usually quite dark inside.
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