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TRIP REPORT : THE Auvergne and Languedoc, June 2022

TRIP REPORT : THE Auvergne and Languedoc, June 2022

Old Jul 7th, 2022, 06:26 AM
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I have found the GPS to be very unreliable in rural areas It will send you up ridiculous farm roads just because it is 200 meters shorter than the big road right over there. Whenever there are road signs indicating the destination but the GPS tells you to do something else, ignore the GPS!
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 07:10 AM
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If you are still in Uzès, this blog lists many of our favorite restaurants in the town itself:

https://shuttersandsunflowers.com/re...ining-in-uzes/

And one of our favorite restaurants is about a 20 minute drive from Uzès in a little village called Castillon-du-Gard called L'AMPHITRYON

They also have a second restaurant called Les Jarres that is focused on grilling, so could be fun in the summer but probably more meat focused I imagine.

https://restaurant-lamphitryon.ovh/
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 07:14 AM
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Hope you enjoy the area-it is one of our favorites!
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 07:28 AM
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kerouac, thats right, we learnt the hard way. I also noticed the GPS "ROUTE SETTING" was SHORTEST which I changed to FASTEST, and that helped somewhat.

jpie, we're back home now, but thanks for the list. We did eat at Le Zanelli one of the nights, good food in a great setting.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 08:07 AM
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Thank you so much for walking us through your trip and all those wonderful photos. I had not seen that view before of St Joseph d'espaly and the abbey. It looks unreal! All those great villages, ah that's the life. That's' the glory of France.

Years ago I canoed that part of the gorge de l'Ardeche... the pont d'arc was the only memorable part of the trip, and you don't even have to rent a canoe to experience it.

Le Puy is a traditional center of lace making, and I remember you could see lace in a lot of the windows.

GPS certainly has its virtues and vices. With a good map you may learn of a fantastic viewpoint, ruins, monument, or perhaps a dolmen just down a side road. I find that GPS keeps you oblivious of your surroundings. On the other hand, road signs might only tell you of the next village, so you have to constantly check to make sure you are taking the correct road.

I guess pretty soon all the info you'll ever need will just be displayed on the windshield.... like augmented reality.

Last edited by shelemm; Jul 7th, 2022 at 08:17 AM.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 08:56 AM
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shelemm, agree with your observations. I used to buy more Michelin maps in the past. I do try and pickup tourist maps of the town and surrounding areas from the Offices de Tourisme whenever possible-as they mark attractions, panoramic view points etc. which you'd otherwise miss. The A/R windshield may not be a very long wait!
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:28 AM
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ANUJ, among those arches a la Pont d'Arc, was there not a prehistoric cave site, one with paintings or somesuch? We once viewed a doc about that and your imagery seems so familiar.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 11:25 AM
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Anuj, am considering basing in or near Uzès when we’re next in the area, probably 2024. So am following your TR with great interest, thanks, your pictures are fabulous 👌
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 03:55 PM
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Lovely report. I have enjoyed revisiting places and seeing them again through your eyes.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 06:57 PM
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zebec, yes the nearby Chauvet Cave had pre-historic art, and a replica has been created for tourist visits to preserve the original (like Lascaux).

geetika and rhon, thanks for your continued interest.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:50 PM
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Day 9 : UZES, A PADDLE DOWN TO PONT DU GARD

Duplicated thread, deleted.

Last edited by ANUJ; Jul 7th, 2022 at 10:41 PM.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:52 PM
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Fabulous, I love the interesting landscape and charming towns.
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Old Jul 7th, 2022, 09:55 PM
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Day 9 : UZES, A PADDLE DOWN TO PONT DU GARD

A quick breakfast and we were off to nearby Collias, to embark on our 9am kayaking trip (with Canoe Collias) down the river to Pont du Gard. We chose the short “beginner”s circuit – an 8km stretch, which took us about 4 hours (2 hours of actual navigation) to complete with a few leisurely stops en route. Our kayak was a 2-seater with my wife in front and me at the back.

It’s all very easy, except for the 3 sets of (small) rapids (not dangerous in any way) en route that need some effort and navigation. The first, and the nastiest set of rapids, greeted us few minutes into our journey. We got wedged between the rocks and had to hop off to dislodge the kayak, getting quite wet in the process. We got smarter with the experience, so the next two were a breeze. But that’s all part of the fun !


Resting at our first beach after encountering the first set of rapids (in the background)

The views of the gorge were beautiful (with lots of beaches and coves to pull up and picnic/rest). As we started early, we pretty much had the river all to ourselves.


The reflective and calms waters of the River Gardon

Limestone cliffs, along the river's edge

Onwards, ahoy !


The Pont du Gard is a very impressive sight, and I think approaching it from the water is the best experience and affords the best views. It’s the tallest of the Roman aqueducts (built 1st century AD), and surprisingly well preserved. There's a beach conveniently placed just before the Pont, we pulled up and spent over an hour there absorbing the views. You can also walk up to the Pont and walk below and around it from there (connecting road nearby).


First views of the Pont du Gard, in the distance

We parked ourselves at this beach for a while

View of the arches, with reflections in the water

View of the river from near the bridge, our beach jutting out into the water visible

Getting closer, and under

..and past!


With a kayak, you get up close, cross under the Pont through the arches and paddle another 20 minutes to the end point of the route, from where you're picked up by bus and returned to base. We returned to Uzes tired and slightly sore – two years of relative inactivity courtesy Covid has clearly taken a toll on our fitness levels.

Later and after some much-needed rest, we got out to stroll around Uzes. Uzes is a gorgeous town oozing charm in every corner, and seems to have drawn the attention of the French elite who are lapping up villas and luxury homes, in and around. We peered into a Sotheby’s window, that showcased several listings for multi-million euro homes, which I believe is somewhat unusual for the Gard.


Strolling aimlessly in the (many) charming bylanes of Uzes

Charming storefront (plant shop)

Another charming storefront (local foods shop)

Cafes spilling onto the Place aux Herbes

Last edited by ANUJ; Jul 7th, 2022 at 10:40 PM.
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 06:14 AM
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Day 10 : UZES, DRIVING THE CORNICHE DES CEVENNES

The Cevennes are a mountain range, on the edge of the Massif Central. In the early 18th century, a road was constructed through this mountainous and densely forested region, to allow access to Louis XIV’s soldiers to quell a local uprising. This road – the D907 between St Jean de Gard and Florac is called the Corniche des Cevennes, and the one we decided to drive today. It’s an interesting drive, but with few lookout points or points to pull up your car, so it’s a tough balance between driving the narrow winding road and absorbing the sweeping views.


Dense forest, with several hiking trails radiating from here

Views along the Corniche

Florac, at the end of the route

It was market day in Florac


We returned via the quicker N106 to Ales. We stopped to stretch our legs at the tiny les plus beaux village of Vezenobres, which was ironically home to many leaders who rebelled against Louis IV and were killed in the Camisard wars I mentioned earlier.


Clock tower at Vezenobres

Along the main (and only?) street in Vezenobres


We then stopped briefly at St Quentin La Poterie- famous for, hold your breath, pottery ! St Quentin is vibrant and colorful, with many interesting artisan shops.


Artisan workshop

Artisan workshop

Museum of Pottery


From the facades of some homes to the water fountain, you’re reminded this is the undisputed ceramics capital.


Interesting homefront !

Lou Griff fountain, with ceramic tiles


After returning to Uzes, we ate dinner that night at La Zanelli, an Italian restaurant (right behind the charming Eglise St Etienne) offering a beautiful outdoor dining experience that felt like we were in the church courtyard.


Eglise St Etienne

Inside

Le Zaneli

When returning to our hotel from dinner, we noticed a music concert open to the public at the city hall opposite Uzes Castle, and decided to attend. This made for a fun last night in Uzes - the local band performed several songs ranging from Tracy Chapman to Muse (with a group of school children accompanying on violins)!


At the concert

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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 08:11 AM
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ANUJ, Fodorites 'Ssanders' plus 'Myers' each contributed their photos of that same same Uzes 'Petit Beguin' clothing shop, as you have shown above. Their shots wazzam (were and still are) in Coquelicot's 'Photos of France' thread, which many members posted on. The thread served this forum well as a balm to travelers stuck at home during the original lockdown. If memory serves, Ssanders also showed a fine shot of the Pont du Gard there, while portrait-specialist Myers wowed us all by mixing in photos once taken in France by his seriously-talented little grand-daughter.
I am done. the imagery

Last edited by zebec; Jul 8th, 2022 at 08:18 AM.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 10:23 PM
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Day 11: A PROVENCAL DETOUR TO ARLES

When we last visited Provence, we didn’t get as far south as Arles and the Camargue, so missed them. Given their proximity this time around, I thought a small detour (with a night each in Arles and Aigues Mortes) would be worthwhile.


We bid farewell to Uzes, and set off for Arles with a plan to stop briefly in Nimes and have a look around. Nimes is a large city, but with a compact historic centre – the underground parking Indigo Maison Carree was conveniently located for our purposes.

We walked a circular route starting at Maison Carree, then down Boulevard Victor Hugo to Place des Arenes, rambling through the historic centre and finishing up at Jardin de la Fontaine. This circuit took about 2 hours, with a short pit stop for gelato at Amorino’s.



Maison Caree (wasn't open for entry, due to repair)

Arenes de Nimes

Amorino !

By the cathedral Notre Dame et Sant Castor

Through the covered market

And to the Jardins de la Fontaine




We then left for Arles, and checked into our B&B. Temperatures were again soaring over 35 celsius again, so we remained indoors till early evening. Our friendly host had walked us through a tourist map and marked off the key attractions, so we just walked around at a leisurely pace.


The baths of Constantine, right next to our B&B

Charming street

Charming street

The Roman theatre

The amphitheater


Of course, Arles is historically rich (with Roman sites clustered closely in an area designated UNESCO World Heritage for good reason) and culturally rich (Van Gogh and others). Ii does, however, feel rather distinct from typical Provencal towns.


Iconic view from aphitheatre

Espace Van Gogh, where he painted

Along the Rhone banks


We enjoyed a Lebanese dinner at this delightful little restaurant (always a safe choice, being a vegetarian friendly cuisine!).





We strolled through Arles one last time, before returning to our B&B and crashing for the night.



Amédée Pichot fountain

The Night Cafe, which also inspired a Van Gogh painting

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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 04:41 AM
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Day 12 : THE CAMRGUE AND AIGUES-MORTES

Saturday is market day in Arles. After breakfast, we went to have a quick look at one of the largest local markets we have seen in France, spilling over two major streets in Arles.


Market day in Arles


The Camargue is a delta straddled between the Mediterranean Sea and two arms of the Rhone. It’s a natural reserve, and feels uniquely different from anything we’ve seen or visited in France.

We took the D36 down to Salin de Giraud, where there’s an observation deck for the salt pans.


The observation deck

Views

The pink hues

Giant mounds of salt


The Plage de Piemanson, is a short drive from here, and the long stretch of sand seemed to stretch infinitely.


The endless beach !


We then drove the road circling around the lagoon - the Etang du Vaccares - where we frequently sighted flamingos in the wetlands around La Capiliere.




We dropped by Domaine Mejan with their rice fields and horse stables. We also saw a bull farm down the road.


At Domaine Mejan

Horses at Domaine Mejan

Rice fields around Domaine Mejan

Bullfarm nearby


We passed by the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau (needs a few patient hours, we didn’t go) but spotted a heron along a watercourse, just off the road. More flamingo encounters follow later in this TR, with an unexpected sighting.

The Park

Heron, basking in the sun, just outside !


Our final stop was Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer with a nice stretch of beach and a quaint old town centre.


Saintes Maries de la Mer beach

Clock tower

The fortified church


We finally reached Aigues-Mortes, and checked into our B&B. The host provided us a resident card that allowed free access to parking just outside the walls.

Aigues-Mortes literally means “dead / stagnant water", given the swamps and pools surrounding it. The town has the most well-preserved walls (13th century) I’ve ever seen.


Aigues-Mortes : first impressions

Extensive medieval walls of Aigues-Mortes



Our first order of business was to walk the ramparts. From St Malo and Dubrovnik, we've always enjoyed walking the walls, and while the 8€ admission fee seemed steep, it was worth every euro.


Start of the circuit

Views over rooftops

The pink waters near the salt pans

View of the streets

Along the way

View of the streets

Towards the end of the circuit

At the end of the circuit, you enter La Tour de Constance, also known as “le donjon” or the dungeon. Great views and a real sense of its military importance in protecting the town in the medieval ages, as you take the elevator to the top.


The tower itself

Views from top

Views from top

Views from top


We visited Place St Louis in the heart of the town,and strolled around some of the nearby streets, before calling it a night.


Statue of St Louis

Outdoor dining in the square
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 04:48 AM
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The best thing about walking the ramparts of Aigues Mortes is that you can go all the way around instead of hitting a dead end somewhere. I have not yet spent a night there, but I am determined to do so some day. Out of season. And I have yet to see the flamingos in the Camargue even though I have been through there more than half a dozen times. So you might have been lucky or else I was very unlucky.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 07:04 AM
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We visited the Camarque for a day several years ago, and we saw hundreds, if not thousands, of flamingoes. We saw them in the ornithological park. It was a spectacular site! This was in October.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
We visited the Camarque for a day several years ago, and we saw hundreds, if not thousands, of flamingoes. We saw them in the ornithological park. It was a spectacular site! This was in October.
My husband and I first went to the Camargue in 1981 when we lived in Paris and we saw hundreds of flamingoes, also herds of wild horses. Our next trip was in June 2018 and nary a single flamingo. Stes Maries de la Mer was busy and crowded, but my niece and her friends enjoyed themselves greatly at the beach. Aiguës Mortes is of course a medieval gem and was still a pleasure to visit, especially walking the ramparts. Thanks for bringing it all back Anuj!
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