Monthly Archives: December 2008

Uzes and Pont du Gard

Uzes (oo zes) is a charming medieval town of 10,000. Place aux Herbes is the location of the thriving Saturday market, not to be missed!! I could spend my entire vacation just strolling the square. You’ll find every kind of regional speciality.

Be sure to stop by Philippe Deschamps Chocolatier at 17 Blvd. Gambetta, and ask for Patricia. Tell her I sent you. Heavenly chocolate. Check out my chocolate Christmas tree below. I hope it’s gonna fit in the overhead compartment!!!

Also see my photo with Papa Noel below.

Pont du Gard is our next stop. 2000 year old Roman aquaduct, built by the Romans at the time of Christ to bring water from Uzes down to the city of Nimes. Spectacular!!


 Click on the photo above to enlarge it.  See the tiny red and white dots above the first row of arches?  Those are people walking across the bridge.  The aquaduct is massive, and my photos don’t do justice to the size and magnitude.  It’s so much “bigger” in person!


We had a special tour that allowed us to actually go inside the aquaduct and see the thick calcium deposits the water left behind centuries ago.  I’m standing inside the smallest, topmost arch…this is where the water flowed through the aquaduct.  The bottom arches were just for support.


View from standing on the very top of the aquaduct.  Looking down, you can see the river below.

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Nimes

Nimes is a lovely, lively city of 180,000. Well known for the best preserved Roman amphitheater and forum. These amazing structures have survived so well because the have been in continuous use.

10 min from center of Nimes you find Best Western L’Orangerie.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is the largest and best preserved medieval castle in Europe.

You must come here!! Enchanting!! Walk on the ramparts and imagine what life was like 1000 years ago.

My photos don’t do justice.

When traveling in the Languedoc region you must try the regional speciality, cassoulet, which is a stew of white beans, sausage, and duck meat, cooked very slowly for hours. French comfort food. C’est superb.

We’re leaving now for two hour drive to Nimes. Nimes has best the preserved Roman amphitheater and Roman forum. More later.

Touring Montpellier

Carbo loading across France. Croissants, baguettes, pain au chocolat , pain au raisin…..oui, I try them all!!

This morning we toured Musee de Fabre which features art from 17th to 21st century

French school children on field trip to museum.

This time of year there are wonderful Christmas markets all over Europe. Montpellier is setting up their market today.

Montpellier is a delightful mix of old and new. With population of 285,000, including 3 universities, with 80,000 students, there is always something going on. Antigone is a lovely modern pedestrian zone which runs from the river, nearly 1 mile, and contains modern apartments, office buildings, shops & restaurants….& many beautiful fountains.

So much shopping…….so little time.

45 minutes from Montpellier is the picturesque medieval village of St. Guilhem le Desert. Village was established in 806 on the pilgrim route to Santiago di Compostella. The Benedictine monastery and Abbaye de Gellone date from the 10th century. Carmelite nuns live in the monastary today and still rent rooms to pilgrims.

I’ll load photos later. Now, we’re traveling by bus, it’s getting dark and there’s a soft rain falling. I trust our driver, Jean Pierre. In two hours, we’ll be in the walled Cite de Carcassone, the largest, best preserved castle in Europe.

Traveling to Montpellier

Today I’m leaving Lourdes enroute for Montpellier. I’ll be joining a group there for 4 more days of discovery in this beautiful country.

Isn’t technology great?……(when it works). I’m on a train zipping thru southern France and can take pics to share with you right away…..at least until my iPhone battery dies! We’re on the outskirts of Toulouse where I’ll change trains. Best photo I can get from speeding train window. More later…..

Ok, we have 45 min to wait for next train. Let’s grab something for lunch to take with us. Not sure which sandwich? Then just go straight for desert. Frambois tartlette? Or palmiers are always great. Ok……..both!!

Now we’re on the next train to Montpellier. This train is very nice. Goes all the way to Avignon. Have you heard the children’s song “Sur le pont d’Avignon…”? Kinds like the French version of London Bridge is Falling Down. Gotta go now……battery out of juice. More later.

Lourdes, France

Lourdes is a beautiful town at the foot of the Pyrenees, and has been an important pilgrimage site for 150 years, since the Blessed Mother appeared to a 14 year old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in February, 1858.   Pilgrims come to Lourdes from all over the world to worship and pray.  The sick and the infirm bathe in the healing waters, fervently hoping for cures for their bodily afflictions.  While there have been many documented “miracle”  cures here, the Church is quick to point out that healing comes in many forms.  For many, the renewal of faith, and the spiritual healings taking place here every day are no less miraculous.  Click below for a 2 minute video of my incredible day and evening in Lourdes.   Scroll down for photos. 

View from my hotel window this morning.

Masses are celebrated everyday in 6 different languages.

Grotto where Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette.

Water trickles continuously down the face of the rock and pilgrims wait in line for their chance to touch and to pray at this holy site.

Underground spring

Fall foliage on the river

Twilight view from top of Basilica

2008 celebrates 150 years since the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette.

The Grotto lit up at night…..breathtakingly beautiful.  This has been a once in a lifetime experience.   


Nativity crèche set up at the Grotto just this morning.

En Route to Lourdes

Today is a travel day, as I leave Paris, flying to Toulouse, then transfer by train for the last 2 hour trip to Lourdes. Airport security guard was very cute…..he said, “You go to Toulouse, you have nothing to lose.” I said “Yes, I’m glad it’s not Vegas!!”

More later.

Toulouse train station – le gare

Dinner on the train.