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France - Uzes and Forcalquier - May 2014


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We leave on Friday for southern France, for two weeks. Flying into Marseilles and picking up a rental car. Driving to Saint Remy where we stay in a hotel for one night.

The next morning we drive to Uzes where we have an apartment for a week (this apartment). This is our third visit to Uzes! Last year we visited twice and liked the town and the area.

After the week, we drive across the Luberon in Provence, stopping to meet Kathy and Charley at their place in Bonnieux, to Forcalquier in Haute-Provence. This area is new to us. We are staying in an apartment for the week (this apartment), then flying back home from Marseilles.

I will continue to post my daily photo on Instagram and Facebook. I will post on this thread each day too.
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Things were booked up in Saint Remy. I booked Mas'Xime, on the edge of town near the Vincent Van Gogh hospital. Here it is on booking.com. The price was reasonable and it looks nice. A one hour drive from the airport and we can have dinner in Saint Remy.

Originally we were going to spend the night in Aix, but we changed our minds. The apartment owner in Uzes said we can checkin early (2pm), so it did not seem worth dealing with the Aix traffic.

This is the third place we have rented in Uzes, but the first two were for groups of three (first time last May with Chris, then last October with another friend). Both places were 3 bedrooms - too expensive for the two of us. This place does not have a terrace - but it does have the tower, although you have to walk up several flights of stairs. But it is a block from Place aux Herbes, where I plan to sit and drink coffee.

It is because of Chris that we first went to Uzes! I don't know why we are so taken with it. I think the area reminds us of Santa Fe NM in some ways. Plus I love the aqueduct and Pont du Gard.

I am re-reading Ian McEwan's Black Dogs right now and one of the big events takes place on a dolmen in the Languedoc. I have to figure out if he made up the location or if we can find it.
That looks like a good spot in Saint Remy.

I can't think of a single thing about Uzès that is similar to Santa Fe. Someday, when you're not busy traveling, I'll have to have you explain for me. Hmm. Is it the plaza?
Intriguing and utterly OT snippet of recent news about Santa Fe: Armistead Maupin and his husband have just moved back to San Francisco after trying out life in Santa Fe for the past 2 years. Story here.
We are in Saint Remy. Perfect travel day except that I booked our hotel for May 30, not tonight and tonight they are closed. Luckily the husband was there (his wife runs it) and let us in and they had a room ready. I can't freakin believe I did this! I checked everything twice. I even had email with her but did not mention dates.

Pauline, I did the same thing at an airport hotel in Athens. Arrived to find out, I'd booked it for the previous day way in advance at a great rate. Not only did they not have the same price but they were pretty booked. It took ages to sort. It's those silly drop down menus. I also make mistakes when I'm moving from one place to another. Is the last day the night of or the following day? Our last trip to SA, I had to be extra careful b/c I discovered some bloopers on my umpteenth time checking the schedule.

On my 1st trip to France(1989) we stayed in the most delightful hotel in Saint Remy. It was run by 2 elederly sisters with a huge overgrown backyard where they served morning breakfast. I adored it and all the more so b/c we didn't have reservations and just stumbled upon it.

When we returned to the area a couple of years ago, I tried to find it. But so much had changed. I went into all the hotels and finally one said "oh yeh, it used to be owned by 2 sisters." They escorted me all through including the back but it had changed so much, I couldn't tell if it was the right one.
But I still liked Saint Remy and the area. We stayed just outside the town and had bikes delivered and had the most luscious rides.

I look forward to reading about Uzes. I love the desc. of your apartment. "Shabby Chic." Uzes is definitely on my short list although Nimes looks a possibility.
Keep us posted. Happy trails.
We are in the apartment and it is nice. Big windows that get the afternoon sun. Spacious. One block from Place aux Herbes. A bit over decorated (either the American owners love shopping or there is a shabby chic package of furnishings you can buy - at least it is not IKEA chic as most are these days).

Today we visited the remains of the Arles Aqueduct and the Barbegal Watermill near Fontvielle. Thanks Chris for telling me about it. We loved it!

Also stopped at Sernhac on the way to Uzes and found more remains of the Nimes Aqueduct. A tunnel through a hillside. I think there is another one there but we could not find it.

Photo of view from my window!!


Photo of Arles Aqueduct.


Photo of Nimes Aqueduct tunnel.

Dinner in Saint Remy at Le Bistro des Alpilles on the main road. Steve had salmon, I had a fancy salad (that had no lettuce - why?) with the best goat cheese I have ever had ( local and bio). Photo of restaurant taken this morning after petit dejeuner at a cafe where we sat outside in the glorious sunshine.

We flew British Airways from Heathrow to Marseilles. 2 hour flight. We saw the Pont du Gard from the plane! We saw it last year on our March trip too. You see it 10 mins from landing, on the left side, looking north.

We took the train from Stroud to Reading, then the RailAir bus to Heathrow. That all took 2 hours and went well. We needed to leave our car for Ann, but I would do the train/bus again. Cheaper than paying for airport parking. And I hate that drive.

1 hour drive from Marseilles Airport to Saint Remy.
Nice pics! Yes, next time we fly from Heathrow, I think we'll think seriously about that train (though I have an innate distrust of public transport...).

I've eaten in Bistro des Alpilles - ooh, around 11 years ago. Looks just the same!

How's the parking by your apartment?!
For 45 euro you get a pass for the Gide underground parking lot. You can drive to the apartment to unload, but the parking is always full in this little square. 5 min walk from parking lot.

The Truffle shop on Place aux Herbes is gone, replaced by a good looking gelato place. And the wonderful old bakery on the Place is closed with "for rent" signs.

The 9am church bells remind me to say that they start at 7am - which is nice. No bells on the hour all night long.

Time to get croissants!
Today was sunny and hot (73 F). Went out for bread and croissants. Stopped for a coffee in a sunny spot on the Place aux Herbes. A French couple were sitting at a table for four, drinking coffee and reading the papers, and moved to a smaller table to let a group of four Brits have their table. They sat beside us and the man said (in French of course) "I am happy to move for you. We are all on vacation!" Which sums it up on the lovely, sunny Sunday - we are all on vacation.

There was an antiques market in the Place - some nice things, lots of junk. People were strolling and looking. People sitting at the outside tables of the many cafes having morning coffee. I saw two large walking groups go by our house, under our windows.

We put on our hiking things and headed out to the trails at the crack of noon. There were many other hikers on the trails, all French. We had a detailed conversation with two guys, looking at maps, talking about trails, looking at their special GPS for walking (I want one!). People from different countries, different cultures, uniting as walking geeks.

Uzes is a vacation destination - for the French, for Brits, for Americans, etc.

The hiking trails are well signed. There is a confusing bit on the edge of Uzes which I have finally figured out (the trail marker is painted on what looks like a private driveway but isn't). We walked for three hours. Out from Uzes following roughly the path of the Nimes Aqueduct to a place where the map promised some nice aqueduct remains. At the trail intersection near the place a sign said Aqueduct Remains 0.4km. And that was the last indication of anything. We finally figured out it was a long bump in a field. The aqueduct went underground most of the way and this bump was where it ran.

Walked back to Uzes, over their small mountain, and to the Eure River Valley (where the aqueduct started) to a festival. This one was celebrating sheep herding and geese. Last year we went to one that was celebrating bread and wine. Lots of families, lots of geese.

We got Onion Beignets at the food stalls. Wonderful! Everything else was meat or fish, so we skipped them. Walked back "home", changed into non-hiking clothes, and went out to have fabulous ice cream at the place where the Truffle store used to be. This is artisanal ice cream and sorbet with really unusual flavors. I had lemon made with Moroccan mint tea - incredible.

Walked around trying to see our tower from the street, but we can't. We may have to climb the Medieval Garden tower just to look down on our house and tower.

The apartment is very comfortable. The kitchen is well equipped.

The weather doesn't look great for the next few days. 61F tomorrow - 12 degrees colder! - and some rain. We will see. Sometimes forecasts of rain are just short showers. We have our rain coats.

We went out to the Tourist Office when we got here Saturday afternoon to find it was only open Saturday morning and then closed on Sunday. Why be open on the weekend when everyone is visiting? We will go tomorrow. I want to see about bus schedules in case we want to walk out and ride back. I am not so sure about our plan to walk to the Pont du Gard. Many parts of the trail are on small roads. I like to walk on trails in the woods or fields - not for miles along a road where you can drive. I think the best trail to the Pont du Gard is from Vers, where you walk along the aqueduct remains that we saw last time. We can park in Vers, then walk an hour to the Pont du Gard, and then walk back.

Photo of Steve on the trail.


Photo of some Nimes Aqueduct remains (or so I think).

Pauline, we stayed in Vers Pont du Gard a few years ago and walked to the bridge from there. Here is a photo album I put together of the route, along with a map. It was a nice walk, not too long. Vers was a sweet little town, not too much to see there, but no other tourists to speak of in the village.

We also canoed under the Pont du Gard, which was fantastic. We rented the canoes from Kayak Vert in Collias.

Other nice little towns nearby are Castillon du Gard and St-Quentin-la Poterie, with lots of beautiful ceramics.

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