Okay, I actually only saw about five different villages during our week in the Gard, so I don’t know if that counts as an extravaganza. But it was definitely more picturesque French villages than I’ve seen in a while.
We headed down to Uzès, or, rather, a campground near Uzès, the day after Christmas to meet up with rock-climbing friends who planned to go climbing in the region. I made the decision to go once I understood exactly where they were going and realized that there was actually some sight-seeing to do.
In terms of sight-seeing, things were limited in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. A lot of places were closed.
One place where nothing seemed to be closed was Uzès, which was lively with people sitting in cafes under the clouds (no, it was not sunny in the south, at all…), wandering through the independent boutiques (Uzès seems to have only independent boutiques and none of the usual chains), or eating truffles and what-not in restaurants.
I also shelled out and took the guided tour of the Duchy of Uzès, which seemed highly overpriced at 18 euros. But the Duchy is a private residence, still owned by the duke and duchess, so I guess they can just charge whatever they want. The guide was very good though. The tower dungeon is up 135 very narrow, winding steps though, and I gave up after 40 and turned back down. My knee regretted even going that far.
The campground our cabin was at was near Saint-Quentin-La-Poterie which turned out to be the most interesting of the bunch though I hadn’t originally planned on going in. The houses all seem stacked sort of haywire on top of each other, and a lot of them need renovation, but the tiny curving streets (I was worried about my rear view mirrors at times) had plenty of charm and personality. As you can guess from the name, the village is known for its potters’ workshops, and I had a look in the windows though most of them were closed for the holidays.
I also made it up to Lussan,
Barjac with its silk factories,
and Aiguèze, which is on the list of the most beautiful villages in France.
But the winner of most charming village of the trip was Vézénobres, where I went on the last day.
Vézénobres, as a village on a hill, was the most physically tiring to visit (excluding my misguided effort in the tower of the Duchy of Uzès) but the most rewarding.
We didn’t have great weather, so all the pictures are a little dim, and I didn’t re-touch them.
We’re now back in Poitiers and back at work. Sigh. Vacation was good.