Tourism
Commune de Chassiers

History

The origins of Chassiers…
To the south of the Vivarais Cévenol, the village of Chassiers overlooks a low-lying area where the three Ligne, Lende and Roubreau rivers meet. There is such a marked difference in altitude - from 640 to almost 2000 feet above sea-level –that the village is classed as being in a mountainous area.
The village’s origins remain unknown. According to local tradition, the holes dug into the sandstone rocks to the east of the village were probably primitive grape presses from feudal times.
It is also said that the village grew up around a monastery in the 6th century, but its origins may simply be connected to demographic growth prior to the 12th century.
The only thing that is certain is that Chassiers existed in the second half of the 12th century, as proved by the Roman chapel and the ruins of the bossed tower. At the time, the village was part of the defences for the silver mines fought over by the bishops of Viviers and the counts of Toulouse.

Part of a broader history
For several centuries, the village’s history was intertwined with the history of its two lords, the Lord of Chalendar de la Motte and the Lord of de la Vernade. During the Wars of Religion, Chassiers remained on the Catholics’ side. In 1584, Louis de la Vernade established the ‘Confrérie des Pénitents Bleus’ (Brotherhood of Blue Penitents).
Starting around 1720, Chassiers’ demographic growth reached its peak around 1860, with 1500 inhabitants. At the time, the local economy was based on mixed farming, mainly silkworms, chestnuts and vines.
Fairly soon, however, competition from distant silk farms along with silkworm disease, followed by phylloxera and finally the rural exodus led to a drop in the village’s population, made even more dramatic from 1914 by the bloodbath of the First World War.
In one century, between 1860 and 1960, the population of Chassiers fell from 1500 to 600 inhabitants.

Chassiers’ Rebirth ...
Demographic growth picked up again in the 1960s when Largentière’s mines reopened (to extract lead and zinc rather than silver this time) and the Oeuvre de Béthanie, for disabled children, was modernised.
While incorporating new populations, Chassiers has managed to retain its rural quality and respect its historical and natural heritage. Agriculture still plays an important role, as do the local shops, trades and many associative activities and cultural events.
Making the most of the arrival of new technologies and modern networks, retired people and young families continue to come and settle in Chassiers, seeking a better quality of life.