The dale is one of the town’s gems, best visited in the autumn. The clear waters of the Tourne spring gush forth, overlooked by the only low relief in France dedicated to the worship of the god Mithras. It was listed as a picturesque site in 1934 for the wealth of its historical and natural heritage.



The Tourne : a pure powerful stream in the heart of the town

The waters of the Tourne were not only renowned for treating leprosy, but also much appreciated for their unceasing flow and purity by local millers and tanners in the 20th century. Located near the Laoul woods where the tan from the bark of oak trees was extracted, it also offered the opportunity for exporting the hides and cloth to Arles or Lyon via the port of Bourg Saint Andéol on the Rhône.

The Tourne « gouls » : a well-known site for divers

The natural Vauclusian springs (or gouls) here in Bourg Saint Andéol, similar to those at Fontaine de Vaucluse, have not yet revealed all their secrets. The so-called Tannery Goul and Bridge Goul are favourite spots with cave divers and well-known all over Europe. They regularly welcome scuba-diving academies and great explorers such as Commandant Cousteau, Bertrand Léger or Xavier Meniscus who established the world record here of 220 meters. The exact origin of the spring has still not been identified: maybe the tiny Nyphargus shrimps found here hold the key to the mystery.


The worship of Mithras in Tourne Dale

Tourne dale contains the only example of low relief depicting the god Mithras carved directly on the rock face. The existence of this 1927-listed carving is acknowledged as far away as Rome and it is one of the treasures of South Vivarais’ Art and History Area. The cult originated in India and Persia, then spread through the Roman Empire in the 3rd century and was therefore contemporary to Christianity. The men-only cult with its rites of initiation promoted strength, in contrast with the gentleness of the fairies who guarded the vale. The Fairies’ Grotto, which can no longer be seen, was a key element of the Mithras cult.

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