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Alès is the capital of the Gard department. It was a Roman settlement, and became an important medieval city with its own bishopric. The diocese was suppressed in 1801, but has been re-established as a titular see since 1823. Alès lies on the River Lez at its confluence with the River Gardon (Gardon de l'Alès), about 20 km from Nîmes and 30 km from Montpellier by road; it is also connected to Languedoc via Pont-Saint-Esprit which lies across both rivers near their confluence. The town's population peaked above 40,000 shortly after World War II, but has declined steadily since 1960 due to economic migration abroad.