Monthly Archives: April 2015

Millau

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Pronounced “meow ” like the cat, we kept hearing about the astounding bridge in Millau.  No exaggeration, hands down, it was amazing to see from a distance. 

 

It is the tallest bridge in the world and is considered one of the greatest engineering feats of all time.  It was scary amazing to see!!

We took a short jaunt  into the town so I could visit the Chasse Gantier glove museum, where custom gloves are still made.  

  

   
 

What a Detour!

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When we realized the hours of driving it would take us to get from Congenies to Bordeaux, we decided to leave a day earlier than scheduled and break the journey into two days.

A few weeks ago my sweet French neighbor I’m Quakertown gave me two copies of France Magazine.  One featured “the prettiest town in France” as Cordes-su-Ciel and on a whim I circled it on the map.  Guess what…it’s sort of half way.  We made a B&B reservation and off we went .

David mentioned a place we’d drive close by enroute to Cordes he thought we’d like.  He jotted down the name on a piece of paper and we had no idea what it was–a lake, a cairn,  a park??

La Couvertoirade is a UNESCO site once inhabited by the Knights Templar. It looked like it was just off the main road so we decided, “What the heck–lets take a quick look!”

   

Honestly, we were stunned 1)that there was actually a village in a remote mid-Pyrenees area, and 2) other  people knew about it, including a tour bus full of Brits.  But on this day the artisans had their shops open and we strolled through a virtually empty village, enjoying the shops and marveling at the fortress.

 

Most of the shops were small structures with arched ceilings that sometimes seemed low by today’s standards.  Potters, ateliers, metal smiths, and textile merchants were strewn amongst the cobbled streets.  People also live in this village.  I didn’t know you could live in a UNESCO site.

During lunch in a cozy creperie we chatted with a Welsh couple who told us there is a wide ring of these medieval settlements in this part of France, all part of the Knights Templar history.  Carcassonne is part of that ring .   

 

A few hours later we were back in the car, instructing Sophie GPS to avoid the toll roads.  Read the next blog for our destination!

Maison du Quaker

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in Congenies  near Sommieres you’ll find the Quaker guest house.  Formerly a vacation home, it’s now a location which seems to defy classification.  Not a B&B, not a religious center, not a chambres d’ hote, not a hostel, it’s simply a place of rest and retreat, a gathering place, and a residence in Quaker “style”…serviceable and simple.

  
   
        We enjoyed five nights here, connected with visiting Friends, and re-connected with the Resident Friends, Judy and Dave from Doylestown.   The guest house has 5 bedrooms.

  Judy and Dave have biked around the world.  They are amazing people and fonts of knowledge.  Thanks, Friends, for your invaluable travel advice and memories made! 

Bac du Sauvage

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According to Wikipedia:  

The Bac du Sauvage or Sauvage Ferryis a cable ferry across a branch of the Rhône in the Camargue region of southern France. The crossing is 230 metres (750 ft) long[1] and carries a road across the Petit Rhône about 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and a similar distance upriver from the Mediterranean Sea.[2] The ferry crossing is located on the territory of the commune of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.[3]

 

We discovered the ferry when we were on our boat ride, since this was the turn-around spot for the boat.  We decided we’d have to find this crossing on our way home.


It carries only 8 cars and the crossing takes 40 seconds.  I barely got out of the car to take a video and we were across!

Done and done!!  This one’s for you, Lee Shoemaker!

Le Camargue 

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The Camargue area of France lies at the mouth of the two branches of the Rhone where they dump water into the Mediterranean Sea.  The area is known for salt production, flamingoes, and Bulls.  Our goal was to see all three.

We stopped first at the medieval city of Aigues-Morte.  I found my first bull!

   
 

Aigues-Morte used to be on the coast and was an important fishing and salt mining commune.  That remains true today but it’s inland . The Baleine salt company mines much of the salt today. You can see the salt mountains from the back end of the Aigues-Morte rsmparts.

 As much as we like medieval towns, we felt finished with this one.  The tourist crowd was just too ….crowded.

We ventured farther south to Le Gru des Roi ( the groin of the king) right on the Mediterranean.  With tummies growling we ordered “moules frites”( mussel and French fries).  Take a guess how many were in each of our pots ! 


If you guessed 72-75 you were right!  

Checking in with the tourist bureau we learned that the road where we’d likely see flamingos was closed until May1.  No pink birds for us today !

Looking at the map we decided to go to Stes. Marie de la Mer.  Once there we hopped on an excursion boat which was loading right by our parking area.  Touristy, yes, but easy.

A ride up the Petit Rhone gave us a view of Camargue horses (brown when born, grey as adolescent s, white as adults) and Bulls ( lyre shaped horns which point to heaven as opposed to Spanish Bulls with horns that point outward..trained for the bloodless bull fights popular in the area).   

  More later!! 

St. Quentin des Poteries

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Just 5km north of Uzes is a small village I read about in a Lonely Planet guide.  Pottery artisans create their wares in small shops; I had no choice but to go exploring.  Don agreed!  

  
The streets charmingly sport a swath of tiles down the middle disguising the drainage system.

Sure, it was Monday and many shops were closed, but not all.  If this shop would have displayed those signs for shipping, I would have been in serious trouble ! 

   

But seeing as how I have to carry anything I buy, I limited myself to one smallish bowl.

Farther along in this shop I added two sweet tumblers.

 Really, as Telma knows, these sorts of places are my downfall.  It’s taking all my restraint to not throw a hissy fit to return there tomorrow instead of going to the Camargue to see salt, flamingoes  and bulls!!  

Oh, but I did make note of this: 
  
Hmmmm……