Situated in the narrow valley of the Gellone river where it meets the steep sided gorge of the Hérault River, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is essentially a medieval village located on the St. James's Way pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella. Because of its isolation, in 806 Saint Guilhem established the monastery of Gellone here.

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is one of the 'The most beautiful villages of France', and the Abbey of Gellone, along with the nearby Pont du Diable were designated UNESCO World Heritages sites in 1999.

A part of the cloister of the monastery was moved to The Cloisters museum in New York City. A new sculpture museum, containing stone works from the abbey, was dedicated on June 26, 2009.

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