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France

Le Gard, the other South of France

Chateau de Uzes

When planning a visit to the South of France, most think of Provence, with its sleepy stone villages, lavender fields, and seaside. Instead, why not consider the west side of the Rhone River and try the Gard. This area is full of interesting things to see and do and has a great variety of countryside to cater for all tastes. A good place to stay is the beautiful town of Uzes. This has a mass of typical French stone houses and narrow streets built around the magnificent castle of the Dukes of Uzes and the lovely arcaded square of the Place aux Herbes. There are two weekly markets, a huge one on Saturdays, and a smaller one on Wednesdays for local farmers.

Pont du Gard

Close by is the picturesque town of Nimes famous for its superb Roman ruins, its huge amphitheater that seats 20,000, bullfights, the Maison Carree, a perfect small temple, and several other interesting sights as well. The Roman Emperor Augustus, over 2,000 years ago, founded the town. Nimes is a bustling place filled with lots of local character and great shops too.

The Romans, who occupied Nimes, got their water from a spring in the valley below Uzes. Their aqueduct ran for 30 miles and crossed the river Gardon by means of the Pont du Gard, the finest remaining Roman aqueduct in the world. To see it at its best, drive up the Gardon along the right bank from Remoulins. You can also walk along a marked path between the village of Vers and the Pont itself to see more remains of this magnificent example of Roman engineering.

The South of France is famous for its bullfighting too. The bulls run in the streets, safely corralled behind iron fencing. However, the village youth tries to show off its bravery to the girls by getting as close as possible. Little happens that is dangerous. A communal supper and dancing follows in the evening. Every village, in the area, has its fete in the summer, which is worth experiencing.

Contributor: John Buss

If you plan to go to the South of France, consider visiting the Le Gard.


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