UzEssentiel in English
Un site, une page Instagram, des box, A French Collection, c’est un peu tout ça à la fois, en fait.
Mais A French Collection, c’est aussi et surtout la touche de sa créatrice, Annette Charlton, une australienne tombée amoureuse de la France en 2009.
a French Travel & Lifestyle blog about life in France - '100% French mood'
Meeting with Annette, founder of A French Collection
Hello Annette, so nice to speak with you.
I first discovered A French Collection on Instagram. Then I visited the blog. Such a nice 'place' to visit !
Could you tell me how came to you the idea to create A French Collection ?
Lovely to speak with you also. A French Collection was created in 2015 so that I could share my love of France with family and friends, and also to share a bit about what living in a little Breton farming village is like for our Australian family.
I had friends who always asked me questions and wanted to see photos of our travels so I started the blog to share ‘our French life’ with them.
Why did you choose France over other European countries ? Were you living in France when A French Collection was born and switching house from Australia to France and back ?
You know Nancy, I cannot really explain why I wanted a second family home in France. My family was living in Australia, none of us had ever been to France, we knew no-one in France and did not even know the regions, but I just knew that France was where I wanted my family to live part time.
So we went on our first trip ever to France and looked at properties, bought one and then once we owned it, we’ve taken the children during the Australian school holidays to France.
It was only after living this lifestyle between the two countries, Australia and France, for a few years that I then created the blog to share our experiences. Everything else has grown from that.
What is your professional background and (if you do) how do you manage to work remotely ? How do you manage dividing your time between your Australian home and your French one ?
My previous experience is in the legal industry. My husband and I have an engineering consultancy business which allows us flexibility to work remotely when needed.
We work around our children’s lives more than ours, with school graduations, yearly exams, holidays, special events etc. always determining our travel dates.
In turn a French lifestyle blog, a Collection Box subscription, gift boxes plus an Instagram page, and even podcasts, you are far from idle ? Why so much variety ?
Well, I like to be busy, and usually everything I create starts with trying to help others. A French Collection blog was a way of sharing what family and friends wanted to know, then I kept getting asked to bring beautiful French products home so ladies in Australia could buy them from me. So I began our French gift box subscription firstly for Australian ladies, but now we sell worldwide.
Instagram/Facebook – what can I say … I just love the community of friendly and interesting people I meet on these social pages, so this is fun and a delight for me.
And the podcasts, I started these because members of my community kept messaging me saying sometimes they were too busy to pull their laptop out and read my latest blog and asked if I was going to start a podcast. So I did.
You want to discover Annette’s podcasts ? Why not listen to this particular podcast How and Where to Find French Antiques in France on how to decorate one’s home by buying French antiques in, why not, vide-greniers, kind of a garage sale – (Antique shopping in Uzès, a blast as you say ! Instagram)
What kind of articles do you write on your blog ? What do you prefer to write on ?
I describe my blog as everything ‘France + All Things French’. Travel information, tips on what to see and do, delicious French recipes, lifestyle, book and film reviews, people – everything French. I also have a section called Our French Life which shares our everyday life adventures.
My post topics are chosen from what I’m feeling creative about on the day of writing, or I may write an article about a place a reader has asked me to research, or maybe one of the latest publications on Paris has hit the bookstores and I review it, or something funny has happened in our village that I want to share.
'A bit of French joie de vie into life'
How do you choose the « elements » of your gift boxes ?
Aah, gift box selection is quite in-depth. Each quarterly edition of our gift boxes has a theme (so far we’ve had ‘Scents of Provence’, ‘Marie Antoinette’ and ‘Ooh La La’ to name a few) and all colours, scents and products revolve around the theme.
I choose genuine French brands that I love and I also choose small businesses and artisans. Supporting artisans is something I’m passionate about and I’m always on the lookout for beautiful authentic items. For example, our jewellery is made by an artist in Paris, our lavender wands are made in Provence and our flea market finds usually come from my region of Brittany or Les Puces, Paris.
Items are chosen so that they fit all shapes and sizes, ages, and with a variety of colours and themes, I try to suit everyone.
And, what about your tours Annette ? As you are a tour guide too. We could say that this is another string to your bow.
Since when did you decide to make tours and why just for women and with a limited number of guests ?
Taking ladies on tours around Paris and France is such an enjoyable way to meet amazing people and share the country I love. My tours also started with people asking to either meet me in France, plan itineraries for them, or just organise a tour that they could come along with me.
I’ve been meeting people in Paris for years showing them the hidden places I’ve discovered and ladies have been joining me for my 7-day French tours since 2019. I think small groups are the best way to immerse into an area like a local, be mobile and create lasting friendships. Offering my tours to women only, allows ladies to travel to places they would otherwise not, be a single traveller, feel safe and enjoy the company of other ladies while indulging in long lunches, shopping and garden visits.
'Experience true French life, walking quaint streets on foot, sample rich dairy foods'…
To conceive a tour is a very demanding task but a passionate one. How did you become a guide – are you a guide in Australia too ? and how do you organize your week tours, between destination, locations to visit, and so on ? You say you go to 'breathtaking areas of Normandy, Brittany or Provence'. Do you have a preferred circuit ?
Designing tours takes a creative spirit and good understanding of the area so that you can showcase the best a region has to offer. I handpick the villages, towns, museums, beaches and hotels on all tours and create itineraries that offer a relaxed, immersive experience. Our circuit is the same for April and September tours.
I’m not a guide in Australia, only in France.
Experience soaking up the buzz of the boulevards and cafés of Paris while eating in stunning French brasseries, shopping in Saint-Ouen antique market, browsing best bookstores…
Upcoming Provence Tours in 2023
It seems that you combine easily touristic information and… gastronomy. Which is my dada too, as we say in France - what I really like. Do you think about organizing cooking workshops ? It could be a fantastic idea.
Yes, cooking workshops would be a great idea. My home in Australia has always been central to family celebrations and events, and so cooking for large groups is the norm for me. As my children grow older and I have more spare time, organising cooking workshops just may be on my future horizon.
Do you have a team working with you on A French Collection or do you work mostly on your own, as I do ?
Mostly I work on my own although I have some fabulous guest writers who bring their own French vibe to the website – which I love.
I particularly enjoy the hands on experience of writing posts myself for the blog, and hand wrapping each French gift box and writing a personal card for each customer.
Do you have a favourite destination in France ? If it is the case, why this choice ?
The south of France is so different to the region I live in from the colours of the stone buildings, vegetation, rooftops and even the light. Uzès is one of my favourite destinations in the South and just like a storybook French town.
Uzès is such a happy town and I felt right at home shopping antique stores, wandering the market, chatting with artists, driving around the surrounding fields and villages, and exploring every street of the charming town. I think it’s the town with everything.
Do you have any anecdote on France, on your life in France, etc, or a very special souvenir you want to share with us ?
I remember our first Christmas in France with a house full of friends from Australia and my parents – we were bursting at the seams and it was noisy, busy and wonderful.
Christmas in Australia is always sunny and hot, so to have a white Christmas with a crackling fire in the fireplace was a fairy tale come true.
Thank you so much Annette for your collaboration with this article,
In the courtyard of the Monastery of Solan stands, since 2017, the lovely church dedicated to the Mother of Christ
A Byzantine architecture and an orthodox vocation
The church, built mostly with stones of the region, and particularly of the monastery domain, of grege, beige, and even golden colors, is dominated by an ethereal dome, of octagonal shape, which reminds us of the Byzantine architecture, and the orthodox vocation of the monastery.
Welcomed by Saint Simon
Before entering the church, the visitor is welcomed by Saint Simon, a painting recording the colors of the fresco which is actually created inside, over the sanctuary.
Entering the church
Composed of a narthex, a naos – where stands the believers, a choir (kliros), the church has beautiful columns too, decorated with flowered capitals, and sometime some decoration of the sacred iconography.
The dome, with its numerous openings, offers a light-dispersing atmosphere propitious to prayer.
The beautiful Iconostasis of the church presents the icons of the place. On each side of the holy doors leading to the sanctuary stands the Holy Virgin – a Virgin with the child and a Virgin with a veil, holy patroness of the church. Then comes the Christ and Saint John the Baptist, the latter being representing the link between the Old and the New Testament.
Over the icons and the sculpted stone, we can see 15 beautiful painted sceneries of the holy scriptures, such as the Nativity and the dormition.
The upper gallery, where believers can attend mass, is ornamented, on the part situated over the sanctuary, by a large painting, which is actually being realized.
Many thanks to Sœur Iossifia, for her precious collaboration with this article.
The right address : Monastère de Solan, 1942 Route de Cavillargues, 30330 La Bastide d'Engras. Tél : 04 66 8 299 12. The Monastery of Solan is the right place to buy biological products, such as wine, jams, etc. You can find in the shop those products, but as well books, cds, incense, icons and so much more.
Founded in 2003, the association regroups members from Aigaliers, Foissac and Baron, and is open to members from other towns and villages around.
With its multiple activities, spreading from September to end of June, L’Aphyllanthe has a life of its own.
In the beginning it was the library
Started as a library, the association spreads its wings to various activities over the years.
A great companion for all family members, the association is a meeting place to share quality time in a peaceful environment.
Did you know ? The blue aphyllanthe in one of the typical species of the Mediterranean
Activities for kids and adults
During the week, gymnastics, pilates, yoga or trekking… You can also enjoy the reading club, where you can discuss over a book and review your reading list. You can also share your abilities and knowledge, such as knitting, sewing, playing cards and so on.
Each course lasting for about 28 sessions, you will have from September till June (not including school holidays) to complete your training.
Apart from those activities, the association is also keen to intervene with primary schools within the CLAS program (Contrat Local d’Accompagnement Scolaire, an accompanying scholar tuition).
What else you might ask ?
Well, workshops are programmed, such as the one dedicated to parenthood. There are also lots of animations for kids, and invitations to shows, for example « Les Founambules », at the Cratère theatre of Alès, as well as book reading at primary school, a pedagogic garden at the school of Foissac, a literary prize where kids were invited last year to read and select their favourite book. Needless to say that the event was a great success !
Drama or painting workshops are scheduled too and, each month, a visit or excursion : Come and book right away your tree climbing session at Saint-Quentin the 10th October, the visit to the Chauvet Cave next 21st November, or the exceptional discovery of the Truffières d’Uzès (the truffle being the black diamond of Uzès) the 4th December.
Reopening September 2021
Have you scheduled anything for the next months ? If not, you should really try the Nordic walking sessions, a brand new activity, or the Saturday pottery workshop, or even try climbing with your kids ! There is a well, dance for all, playing with balls, and so much more.
As you can see, the choice is wast.
You are more gourmet than a sports person ? Don’t feel sad, the Cuisine tournante activity (Turning kitchen you might say) is there for you and it will surely please many. It is the opportunity to meet know new people, cook together and…. taste all the good dishes prepared over a friendly lunch. Yummy !
A partners net
Working with the Communauté de Communes Pays d’Uzès and their libraries (do you know by any chance the wonderful Bibliobus ?), L’Aphyllanthe is active all around Aigaliers.
Have a look at the website right away and subscribe to the association. You will not be disappointed !
Thanks to Claude Huguet, president of L’Aphyllanthe, and to Jim Cluchey, for their collaboration with this article.
Thanks to Lynda for the reread.
More information on the website of the Association l’Aphyllanthe, or by calling : 04 66 22 10 20
Created in 1910, uniting the collections of Fine Arts and local history, the Borias museum of Uzès was first located in the town hall.
Since 1978, the museum is situated in the old episcopal palace, becoming neighbour of the local court.
Origins and history of the museum
At the very beginning, we have to remember the work of José Belon (1861/1927), a painter native of Alès. Trained at the Fine Arts school of Paris, he asked at that time his artists friends to participate to the museum by giving some of their works.
Then came the initiative of French poet Albert Roux (1871/1935). Farmer of the Gard above all, born in Sanilhac and fond of his region, the poet was writing tales and legends in Occitan, as well as stories inspired by the work of another French writer, Frédéric Mistral.
The creation in 1896 of the Museon Arlaten of Arles by Mistral catched his interest, as the museum placed great emphasis on the Provençal arts, calling upon the local population to help protecting the region heritage, a culture that Mistral thought was going to gradually disappear.
From Arles to Uzès, there is only one step, and the Museon of Uzès, desired by Albert Roux, was born
Albert Roux, who was collaborating to the Journal d’Uzès, the former Républicain, with stories on the local history, asked the local population for private donations : came then great surprises, from a cabinet of curiosities to paintings and archaeological findings.
A passionate curator
Left without care during the 2 World Wars, the public museum reborn in 1946 under the action of Georges Borias (1908/1988). This French teacher from Auvergne, who arrived in Uzès after having worked in many other French regions, took the responsibility to preserve the museum. With the help of his older students, they worked on the restoration and the filing of the museum collection. A tremendous work.
Curator of the place for 40 years, Georges Borias developed the museum and expanded significantly the collection. Located since 1978 in the old episcopal palace of Uzès, classified historic monument in 1981, the museum is named after Georges Borias, who died in 1988. A tribute to his amazing work.
A new direction
Martine Peyroche d’Arnaud, author of a thesis on Uzès architecture for the school of the Louvre and of the Abédécédaire d’Uzès (Alcide Editions), replaced Georges Borias as curator. She is the one behind the museum we visit today.
Then came Brigitte Chimier, who took over Martine Peyroche d’Arnaud who had retired in 2003. With a degree in Modern Art, nothing destined Brigitte Chimier to this kind of work. Nevertheless, the present curator brings her expertise and her commitment to the job for 20 years now, together with the help of the person in charge of the reception desk and the association Les amis du musée (the association fo the friends of the museum).
Nowadays, Brigitte Chimier works to the recognition of the museum and continues to enriching its collection thanks to private donations – such as this drawing of Charles Gide offered by the president of the association Les amis du Musée, Frédéric Abauzit, legacies, acquisitions – such as 7 works of André Gide and his grandfather, the painter Théo Van Rysselberghe from the daughter of the writer, all these actions punctuating the life of the museum, together with the interactions with schools, conferences and visits.
Visite guidée of the museum with curator Brigitte Chimier
Between animations, visits to the object of the month, collaborations with schools, the museum of Uzès participates actively to the town’s life.
Divided in different collections, the museum takes the visitor around the history of Uzès and the region. Souvenir of a cabinet of curiosities, Gallic and Roman history, Middle-Age, but as well a rich collection of coloured wardrobes from Uzés, the museum is full of surprises. Look for example at this peculiar sawing machine for silk stockings rented to workers by the retailers, reminding us of the economic expansion of the city due to industry of silk worms. Have a look too at the portrait of the duchess of Uzès, painted by Adolphe Weïsz in 1913 or the colourful La lutte d’hommes, painted by the French painter José Belon.
Then come the department dedicated to the potery of Uzège, an activity which pratically disapeared after the first World War before coming back in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie early 80s. Through the loan of the private collection of Jean-Paul and Christophe Pichon, we follow the evolution of the creations of the family factory, founded in 1802.
Last but not least, the André Gide heritage
Last room of the museum, the one exposing the heritage of French writer André Gide. (1869/1951), whose family was from Uzès and nearby.
Photographies, books, paintings..., we gradually follow the life of the artist. Founder of French litterary magazine La Nouvelle Revue Française in 1908, the writer was a passionate of life and travels, known for his commitments.
Good to know : The museum is part of the network of Musées-Occcitanie.fr,
L’Association des amis du musée was founed in 1946.
The object of the month’s visit : A Thursday per month, come and discover an object selected by Brigitte Chimier. Next visit : the 21st of October, the 18e c sedan chair, the 18th of November, the shepherd dog belt, the 16th of December, the portrait of Janie Bussy, by painter Jean Vanden Eeckhoudt (1875/1946). RV at 16 h for a one hour visit, 1€50/person, 10 persons maximum, book your visit on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come and meet Brigitte Chimier at the conference she will be giving on La petite histoire du musée d’Uzès at the université Populaire de l’Uzège. 2h to know better the museum, Monday 31st of January 2022. Free, booking inscription. Brigitte Chimier has wrote too some booklets for the Association des amis du musée d’Uzès, and a Guide des tableaux des églises d’Uzès (2006).
Read some of the publications of the Association, such as Les 100 ans du musée, or Georges Borias.
Many thanks to Brigitte Chimier for her collaboration to this paper and the guided visit.
A long term project
A long term project launched some 15 years ago, the House of the beaver of Collias is built where was once an excise duty house.
It took 4 years to create the museum we visit today, 320 m2 which litterally melt with the surrounding nature, the well protected and preserved gorges du Gardon.
Have a look at the beaver and his little one, a sculpture of French artist Pascal Josse and his Adess team, known for their great jobs on so many other international museums
Completing the touristic offer of the Maison des gorges du Gardon in Sainte-Anastasie, where to learn more about the wildlife reserve of the gorges du Gardon, the house of the beaver takes about 1 h 30 to visit.
Through well explained panels (yes, they are written in English too), about 20 interactive activities, a documentary, and a stunning scenery on the river nearby, you will surely become an expert about the beaver in France, and more specially, here in the Gardon, where 50 beavers live nowadays.
7 dedicated spaces
7 dedicated spaces, fantastic footbridges, gardens (look at the wood, peeled and cut in whistle), where to walk and learn that the beaver was almost extinct in Europe at the end of the 19th c, and that the 50 individuals inhabiting the Gardon today, and where they lived some 15 000 years ago, are the descendants of the 270 who were reintroduced in the Rhone river early 20th c.
Did you know ?
The beaver, the biggest rodent in Europe, is the national emblem of Canada since 1975.
The Maison du castor is as well respectful of environmental protection, using local raw material (locust and chestnut trees were used, as well as stone coming from the quarry of Vers Pont du Gard for the dry stone walling) and photovoltaic panels, for example.
What else ?
The Maison du castor has his own theatre, the Théâtre de verdure, which can welcome up to 120 persons. A great place for concerts, theatre, or any cultural animations.
The K’-Store is where to find books, and local food and the K'S-Dalle, where to enjoy some refreshment.
Learn more about the activities of the Syndicat mixte des gorges du Gardon checking on its agenda.
The right address : La Maison du castor, 2 route de Nîmes (just after the bridge), Collias. Opened from 1st of March to 31st of October, Wednesday to Sunday, 10 h to 18 h. 6€, 4€ (from 6 to 17 years old, students, unemployed, and groups over 15 persons). Good to know : Combine ticket with the Maison des gorges du Gardon, Sainte-Anastasie.
You are looking for riding a horse in the Gard ? Well, why don’t you go to Aubussarges, less that 10 km from Uzès, and discover the Ecuries du Roc, a riding school owned by Isabelle and her husband.
A perfect place for a perfect time
At the door of the communal forest of Aubussargues, the riding school is situated in a preserved countryside and offers, with its 15 ponies and horses, a wide choice of activities, for beginners up to advanced riders.
Private lessons, group lessons, forest rides
Kids are welcome with the baby club - starting with 2 ½ old toddlers riding shetlands ponies, and advanced riders will receive the perfect training for special courses to prepare riding diplomas and competitions.
Everyone will find at the Ecuries du Roc what he is looking for : private and group lessons and, for all, the chance to ride in the nearby forest, a good way to test your riding skills. Saddle up and follow Isabelle in the woods for a 1 to 2 hours ride where you will be able to walk, trot and gallop in a beautiful landscape.
From the preparation of your horse to riding, and then unsaddling
When coming to the Ecuries du Roc, you will follow all stages of the rider : preparation of your horse, saddling up your 4 legs companion, riding and rubbing him down. So get prepare to spend at least 2 hours there.
Board and half board at the Ecuries du Roc
You own a horse ? Don't hesitate to come with your companion at the Ecuries du Roc which offer you the possibility to boarding and even half-boarding him, as some horse owners give the opportunity for other riders to ride their horse up to 3 times a week and take him for a ride in the forest.
Many thanks to Isabelle for her friendly welcome and the ride in the forest. UzEssentiel enjoyed it very much.
The right address : Les Ecuries du Roc, 14 ter Rue du Roc, 30190 Aubussargues. From Monday to Saturday, 8.30am/19pm, Sunday 8.30am/12am. For nformation and booking, please call 06 23 16 48 42
Tasting the apricot of Provence, it is biting in a sunny fruit.
Great for sweet and salty dishes, you can find it on the markets from June to August, and eat it stewed, in jam…
Orange coloured, with pinkish « cheekbones », the apricot of Provence is melting down in the mouth.
Bergeron, orangé de Provence, rouge du Roussillon
The apricot tree, named Prunus Armeniaca, is native from China. It first came to France from Italy and Spain, around the 15th c.
There are many species of apricots, such as the bergeron, from the Rhône valley, the orangé de Provence, from the Drôme and the Vaucluse, the orangered, the bergarouge, the famous Red of Roussillon, AOC (controlled designation of origin), the Stark Early Orange…
Goat cheese and Apricot bricks
Cut some filo pastry in squares. Melt some butter to grease the filo (use olive oil if you prefer).
Cut the goat cheese and the apricots in small dices and brown them in a pan.
Put a full table spoon in each filo pastry and close. Then brown it in an oiled pan. It’s ready !
Roast chicken with apricots and zucchini
Prepare you chicken (or duck) with some salt and pepper.
Cut in dice the apricots and the zucchini.
Put the chicken, the apricots and the zucchini in a dish and place it in the oven, add some branches of thyme and rosemary and add a dash of olive oil.
Cook for an hour or so at 200º. Baste the chicken if needed during the cooking.
Tarte aux abricots
Preheat the oven at 200º .
Dice or cut in slices the apricots, add a little bit of flour and brown sugar.
Put the preparation in a mould, on top of a pie or pastry dough.
Cook in the oven for about 30 mn.
Did you know ? Rich in fibres, in potassium, vitamins A and C, the apricot is a precious healthy ally. Dry, the apricot is perfect for every sportman.
Sources : * Panier de la Ferme.com, Calendrier du jardinage (Reader’s digest, 1979), wikipedia.
The medieval city of Sauve discloses its historical heritage to us starting from its old bridge (12th c), then strolling along its small streets and alleys, in and out of the ramparts, and up to the Jean Astruc or Sivel squares, or the Conservatoire de la fourche – the museum dedicated to the pitchfork, specialty of the city.
Once the capital of the region of Salavès, Sauve was certified Village de caractère in 2008
Built at the foot of the massif of Coutach, which runs 25 km from the city of Claret and finishes its ride right here, Sauve, overlooked by the Roquevaire castle (17th c), is caught between stone and water, as the river Vidourle, which has its source at about 12 km from Sauve, near the village of Saint Hippolyte du Fort, runs along the city.
Sauve is the mother town of 3 famous sons, the aeronaut Théodore Sivel (1834/1875), the doctor Jean Astruc (1684/1766) and the fabulist Jean-Pierre de Florian (1755/1794), the 3 of them giving their names to 3 beautiful squares.
What else ? Well, the street of the Fusterie which reminds us of the fustiers, the woodworkers, the hôtel de la Monnaie (11th c), the house of the Earls, the little square of Pialo, etc, are some of the other spots you will definitively enjoy in your sightseeing.
Good to know : If you go down to the riverside, you will discover the place where the river comes out after its subterranean trip from its source.
Suivez le guide ! Follow the guide !
All together, there are 19 panels explaining the history of the medieval city.
By the Office de tourisme – the tourist information office, located in the cazernes (18th c) – barraks of the Dragons du roi – Horse Guards, another panel presents the circuit of the Mer des rochers – the Sea of rocks, a 2 km long walk in the heart of the nature of the Cévennes.
Next to the tourist information office, do visit the museum dedicated to the pitchfork, this useful farmers' tool, made of hackberry wood, specialty of Sauve.
Cuisine et vins du Piémont cévenol – Food and wine in Sauve
Spending the day in Sauve gives you, as well, the opportunity to taste the local French cuisine and the wine of Cévennes.
Why don't you book a table at the restaurant Le Bossens - which took residence in the old city hospital named... Bossens just 3 years ago, for example (as you will find many more in the city) ? Homemade dishes and regional wine, yummy !
Give a try to the cornflower panna cotta maison, or the pulled pork burger, less traditional and much more international, and have a glass of regional wine Domaine de Cauviac (Le Bossens, 11 rue Mazan, opened from April to October, booking highly recommended : 06 47 06 85 62).
Did you know ? The Piémont cévenol, where is located Sauve, is home to 34 typical and truly traditional villages
Welcomed by Lynda and Gérard Bellaïche, UzEssentiel has discovered the creations of a very inspired artist.
An extraordinary garden as hall of exhibition
Since their moving to the Gard around 2005, Lynda and Gérard live in the old primary school in Bourdiguet, a few minutes from Aigaliers and about 20 minutes from Uzès.
In the garden facing the main entrance of the house, many sculptures have settled down under and on trees, behind leaves, on the steps and the stairs… where they live in complete freedom.
« In an English country garden »
As in the song of Jimmie Rodgers, we stroll in an English type country garden where art meets nature : there are plenty of birds, like this flamboyant pink flamingo, fish playing in an imaginary river, 1 or 2 bike chain snakes coiling up a trunk, and nearby this light and airy wine barrel hoop mobile…
Metal poppies titillate geraniums, a stony cat is waiting by the house door, a proud bull mulls over next to a wall… You find all this in the garden of Lynda and Gérard.
An artist trained with masters
A student for more than 20 years of the Dutch priest, sculptor and engraver Pierre de Grauw, who was strongly inspired by biblical themes, Gérard Bellaïche learned from the best. Another was the French graphic designer Marie-Pascale Deluen, who finds her inspiration in the vegetal world.
With this upper class training, Gérard Bellaïche found his own style, his own signature, in a true, enthusiastic, even audacious fervour.
The lands of the Gard spur the talent of the sculptor, who mixes his personal culture - between Tunisia and France, and the ones encountered when travelling around Africa, India…
While enjoying his many sculptures, we come to question ourselves about art, and travel within the imagination and the everyday life of the artist, since his reorientation at the end of his first professional life.
A well established artist
A well known artist by now, Gérard Bellaïche loves to share his experience, especially with youngsters, an audience who appreciates his fun way of presenting art and transmitting his passion.
With his wife as a personal assistant, taking care of organization and public relations, Gérard divides his time, while not travelling far away, between France, and England – mother country of Lynda.
There, he participates in the artistic life, well steeped in the English way of creating (remember Lynda and Gérard’s English type countryside garden, mixing nature and sculptures with success), combining nonsense with British humour.
As in his cooperation with the widow of director Stanley Kubrick, painter and musician. Working with her permitted Gérard to understand a new way of creating art to exist in a natural environment.
Being part of artistic associations
Founder and president of the Art Mature association which regroups sculptors from the town of Bagneux, in France, and proposes art lessons, member of Courand’Art, in the town of Meudon, near Paris, close to where he still keeps a workshop, Gérard Bellaïche participates in Uzès and around in many other artistic manifestations.
Fond of Recup’art and Recycl’art, Gérard links the past to the present recycling old material to create brand new sculptures which often maintain a heritage.
When you finally enter the gallery, you wander between the creations inspired by nature, history and stories from African Primitive art…
Gaugin’s influence is not very far either, as in this wooden sculpture, or Modigliani’s in these long-limbed and poignant figures. Here is Japan, with its incredible and philosophical majesty and serenity. Feel the whisper of Gérard’s geisha, the strength of his samurai and meet the eyes of the fox deity Inari.
Another way of creating art : Portraits
What to say about the portraits looking you straight in the eye ? Well, they are intense.
Following closely the work of the French anthropologists and ethnologists Levi-Strauss and Jean Rouch, Gérard and his wife go trekking around Africa and India, the lands they prefer, but also Cambodia or Pakistan, to print the perfect moment showing fragility, the right glance, on film. All the walls of the inside gallery are decorated with those clichés.
Want to learn more, visit Gérard Bellaïche’s website, Metalmorphosis. Then program a visit to his gallery, in Bourdiguet.
The right direction : Gérard Bellaïche’s gallery (the old village school), 6 rue de l’école, Bourdiguet, 30700 Aigaliers. Call to arrange a visit : 04 66 57 26 41.
You wish to enjoy your garden in the Gard ? First you have to learn a bit more about the plants of the region.
God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. Francis Bacon (1625) Essays ‘Of Gardens’
Rosemary and Thyme, and many more
The rosemary (photo), the plant of the Virgin Mary can be found in almost every garden. Aromatic, with blue flowers when blooming, it is great for planting, and perfect for cooking. The thyme (a member of the rosemary family) is also an ally for the heath as preparing thyme infusion when having a cold is just what you need. It will help you treat and get rid of the colds and sour throat. And in a herb bouquet, the thyme will make a great companion for the laurel.
Then comes the sage, perfect for a digestive herbal tea. Fresh, it can be chiseled on some pasta dishes or for topping a pizza. Dry, you will keep it all winter long and add it to your dressing. Success guaranted as the sage will make its effect when put on a fresh salad !
Speaking of which, there are some salad species living freely in the wild, such as the wild chicory or the dandelion.
Trees and shrubs
It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. Robert Louis Stevenson
The downy oak, the holm oak (the black truffles love this one) and even the white oak or the khermes oak are some of the most common trees in the region, as well as the juniper cade or the maple tree from Montpellier, and the huge hackberry. Much shorter, the strawberry trees can be found in the wild, when the almond trees with its white flowers and the pistachio will be found in some gardens and agricultural exploitations.Then, the aerian alchilea and the strong and tough genista (photo) will have a go in your garden if you decide to.
My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. Claude Monet
Plants and more
Playing with the wind and the sun, here is the green and yellowish euphorbia. As well, the santolina, with is green flower stems and yellow little flowers can be found in the countryside, and your garden. There is too the Centranthus ruber which will give some pinky and red touches in the wild, and the dark blue carnation (oeillet bleu de Montpellier), with its tiny delicate flowers, between blue and purple.
What to grow in your South of France garden ?
«Can the garden save us ? How the power of Nature can change life as we know it ? » Veranda magazine, Tracy Minkin, Feb 2021*
Here is for you to find out :
You can try to plant 2 or 3, and even more, of the various colored oleanders (white, red, yellow, even apricot), some lavander (photo) and South African agapanthus (purple or white), some delicate red sage (a nice combination of red and white) and chamomile (with white petals and strong yellow pistil, photo). Another touch of color could be added with the beautiful blue or pink flowering echinops (photo), loving sunny, dry and hot weather, and even poppies (photo).
For more pink or purple colouring, you can turn to the short cistus crispus (crispus apparently meaning waved), with its delicate blooming flowers. You can even turn to rose bushes. Rose bushes love the Gard. Just have a look at the roses (photo) in the villages around Uzès and you will know what to expect in your garden if you treat them well : Yellow, red, pink, orange, they are offering a wide range of shades.
Another great idea would be to plant flax, which has small and beautiful flowers, and add some scent with jasmin trees. Their persistent fragrance will specially express itself at night or after the rain. To bring some sunny scent to your garden during winter, you can choose without any regret the acacia retinodes. The ever green branches will carry some beautiful and full of fragrance tiny yellow pompoms. It will be love at first sight for sure !
« The garden, a human invention that meets nature at her threshold – provides sustenance of literal, aesthetic, spiritual, and even metaphorical value. » Veranda*
As it will be very hard to find French olive trees (they almost all disappeared many years ago), an option will be to buy Spanish or Italian trees. But if you want to stay with the French touch, try to plant a fig tree or one or two mulberry trees. Their canopy, when fully grown, will give you the perfect shades for summer.
« Heart rate and blood pressure drop within minutes of exposure to natural surroundings like parks and gardens… The scents of blooms from lavender, rosemary… summon mood-elevating chemicals. The scent of roses actually allows our body to hang onto endorphin highs longer, extending that blissful inhalation. »*, extract of the book of Sue Stuart-Smith - The Well-Gardened Mind, Veranda*
Those are some examples of what to plant in your French garden.
Now, feel free to visit some plants nurseries, agricultural cooperatives or garden centres in Uzès or around. There are so many : you will find information, advice and all you need to create or complete your garden.
* Veranda magazine article, by Tracey Minkin
UzEssentiel has been lucky enough to visit the artesanal La Calade with its owner, Vincent Laudescher, in Sanilhac.
A brief presentation
Located in Sanilhac, the micro brewery is named after the typical paved roads of Provence.
After working a full year on various assembling recipes, Vincent Laudescher finally launched for good, in 2016, his confidential production.
La Calade is, first of all, a personal adventure. From his early career as a baker, Vincent has kept the taste for research and creations. Playing with different mixes and aromas, Vincent explores surprising if not different combinations, between hop, rye, alcohol, fruits (mango, fig...)...
« Creating living, non-filtered and non pasteurized beers, with no conservative nor additive »
If you want to taste some of La Calade beers in Uzès, there are plenty of places to go : Namaspamousse, the Marchand de vins, and restaurants, such as La Maison d'Uzès, La Famille. In Argilliers, at the restaurant Le Tracteur, at Castillon-du-Gard at the Vieux Castillon and even in Nîmes (the Mas des agriculteurs) and near Aigues-Mortes (the Mas des jeux).
« Coming in June 2021, the summer brew Blanche citron Basilic, a fresh white beer mixing lemon and basilic »
This summer, the promising summer brew « Blanche citron Basilic », with the taste of the basilico genovese, is a harmony between the tangy citrus and the freshness of the aromatic plant. Its base ? A German weisen with some twist of organic Sicilian citrus and fresh basilico genovese.
This summer brew has something of two renowned white beers : the Bavarian weizen, sweet and sparkling, and the more traditional Berliner weisse, adding its sour touch.
The Blanche citron Basilic Made in La Calade do reminds us of the Twist cocktail and Vincent got the idea of it after tasting a lemon and basilic ice cream some time ago. After giving it a tought, elaborating and experimenting, Vincent finally found the right recipe.
Lager, amber, dark and spirit beers...
Want to make your choice ? Well, there is the lager, the pale ale, the Indian amber pale ale, the Dark Calade, an almost black stout, each of them so very thirties labelled !
What else would you ask ? There are special vintages : the Hans lager, the Milk Stout, the Irish Dark Side. And then there are the Spirit Sisters, strong characters beers, kept long enough in, for the first one, an Armagnac barrel, and for the other one in a Brandy barrel, an operation which gives them a delicate liquor aroma.
To close the list, here is the Tropical Moonshine, a very special artisanal brandy with a unique bouquet.
You like whiskey ? By the end of 2022, a La Calade whiskey, which would have an amber color, will complete the range. We are so looking forward to taste it !
The right direction : Brasserie La Calade, 7 chemin des Grandes Aires, Sanilhac. Phone : 06 46 19 21 43, email@example.com
At some 30 kilometres from Uzès, the little village of Tharaux is overlooking the valley of the Cèze.
If you decide to visit it, you will have to make some effort as Tharaux is a “village perché”, which means a perched village. As only Tharaux residents are allowed to drive up and park there, you will have to leave your car in one of the 3 parking lots : one all the way down, an another somewhere halfway up and the last one, a very small one, at about 5 mn from the centre city, meaning the church square.
A tangle of tiny streets give the opportunity to discover Tharaux, and have a sight at the nearby leafy and green surroundings.
Going down to the river
Walking through Tharaux, you get to the chemin de la Lône, the path leading to the river, on the other side of the village. 10 mn is enough to reach the peaceful shore, going through bamboos, reeds, and the thick foliage of the undergrowth.
A fairy walk...
With a bit of luck, you will be able to come near the Fairies cave, which has been studied by archeologic diggings in the early 20e century and in the ’80, and the Moon hole.
On the heights of the cliff, connected to the Fairies cave, there is, at some distance, the opening of the Aven Grégoire, a sinkhole 2 600 m long. Explored by speleologists and professional divers (such as the Société cévénole de spéléologie et de préhistoire and divers from PlongéeSout – Studies and explorations of underground networks).
Good to know : Near Tharaux is the rest of a Roman road, la route des Helviens, linking Nîmes to Alba Helvorium (Alba-la-Romaine today). More information on the Tharaux townhall website.
Summer in Tharaux will be cultural : Celtic concert, place de l’Eglise, Saturday 24th of July, from 21h to 23h. Literary and oenological evening, Saturday 7th of August, from 18h to 22h. More information on the Tharaux townhall website.
Standing on a 300 m rock wall, the Allègre castrum overlooks the Serre Fourré ravine.
Stunning view to the Mont Aigoual, Mont Lozère and Mont Bouquet
In the distance, there is a stunning view to the Mont Aigoual (1567 m), the highest summit of the Gard, and the Mont Lozère (1699 m) in the Cévennes. Closer in distance, there is the Mont Bouquet, much shorter, only 629 m.
Classified Monuments Historiques in 1997
The castle, restored thanks to the dedication of the Château d’Allègre association founded in 1992, can be reach following a stony ramp, which leads starting from the parking to the lower part of the castrum, known as the knights village.
A village, 2 houses, a palatial complex, towers…
Passing the village, we enter the castle. On the left part, a little garden is taken care of by the volunteers of the Rempart association (a heritage association, with workcamps).
Then, the ruins of the little chapel (around 11th century) lean on the walls of the castle and near the 14th century fortified gate since the chapel was encompassed in the castle walls, in 1383.
Following the visit, we see the Loubier house, an ancient watchtower, the Laurent Vincent house and the palatial complex, strictly speaking.
The South tower, the North tower... remind us that the medieval castles were supposed to defend place and people.
From the South tower overlooking the ravine to the North tower where can be seen a meurtrière (a murder hole), the place is impressive.
Finally, the East house, who initially had 2 floors, was taking care of the security on this part of the castle, facing the path leading to the little Saint Saturnin's chapel.
To the chapel
If you feel like walking a little more, you can follow a 1 kilometre path up the hill to the Saint Saturnin's chapel
Have a look at the surrounding panorama, it gives a splendid view, and some clues on the reforestation in this area.
The chapel, restored, is named after the 1st bishop and martyr of Toulouse, in the 3rd century.
Good to know : an orientation table allows to better discover and appreciate the destinations in the horizon.
More information : Association Château d’Allègre
At about 35 km from Uzès, Vénéjan is a hidden treasure.
With overlooking castle and chapel, Vénéjan brings a peaceful feeling to whoever comes to visit.
From the Clock tower to the Saint Jean-Baptiste's chapel
If you wish to visit the city from its center, then start with having a look at the Clock tower (1843), the place of the first city hall.
Then it is possible to reach the upper part of the city through the terrace gardens which combine the poetry of the calades (those cobbled paths typical of Provence) to the charm of the green spaces, and enhance the restauration work that the municipality undertook since 1999.
Watching the streets downwards, the Saint Jean-Baptiste's chapel and its little cemetery, abandoned around 1860, are standing next to the ruins of an ancient watchtower (10th century), where once stood the ancient dungeon that protected the city.
On the walls of the church, the wall paintings of the 14th century show the Papal court of Avignon's influence and the prosperity of this land, at that time. Those exceptional paintings highly contributed to the inscription of the chapel to the Monuments Historiques in 1986 (the French Heritage).
From the windmill to the castle
Near the chapel, there is a park where stands a lonely windmill. The Vénéjan windmill, built in 1813, had been restored at the end of the ’90 and inaugurated in 2000.
A parking lot, a few meters from there, allows you to leave your vehicle and start your visit by the upper part of the city.
From the little promenade in front of the church, you have the best view to the castle of Vénéjan, a private property today, and once the historical house of the family de Béziers, then of the d’Ancezune, de Grignan (whose last descendant appeared to be the son in law of the famous Marquise de Sévigné).
Good to know : If you wish to visit the chapel, you have to go to la maison d'Art et du Patrimoine de Vénéjan.
Registered too at the Monuments Historiques in 1996, the Saint Pierre's chapel , of the 12th century, can be seen near Vénéjan, at L’Olivette.
Source : Circuit de découverte de Vénéjan
By a sunny day, UzEssentiel had the pleasure to visit Ô Potager along with the owners, Clarisse and Adrien.
A successful retraining
The vegetable garden is not a typical vegetable garden but a hydroponic garden.
Created by the couple in 2018, Ô Potager is set on a hectare patch of land, on the D981, near the Saint Maximin village.
After a business school for Adrien and a job in ready to wear for Clarisse, the call of the earth was stronger.Through internships in vegetable gardens and in well established hydroponic gardens, Clarisse and Adrien reach a sound experience.
It helped them to create their own hydroponic garden, while continuing learning with the local professional. A know-how that allows Ô Potager to gain a significant success with the Uzès restaurants and private clients.
What is Ô Potager exactly?
To begin with, Ô Potager is a gigantic aerial 1 000 m2 greenhouse, the best place for biological agriculture : there, we find tomatoes – about 70 varieties (red, green, pink, yellow…), different mustard plants, watercress, an abundance of aromatic herbs, and especially purple and thaï basil, chervil, chive… all that and even more on top of an underground technical installation which brings the necessary water and nutriments to this green, odorant and so tasty Noah’s ark.
I must admit : a bit of fresh mustard leaf is a real pleasure !
From February to November, the Ô Potager cultures bloom from the greenhouse to the field outside, between seedling to growth. And this year, you can even eat flowers ! Here is the Ô Potager selection : calendula, pansy, nasturtium,… Give it a try !
This year too, citrus fruits are going to start producing and we are eager to test the lime, the clementine…
Spring and summer shop
From Monday to Saturday, and Sunday morning, come and find what you need to cook a great meal with the Ô Potager harvest : strawberries, basil, lettuce, onions, potatoes, yellow, violet, orange…carrots, eggplants, beetroots, radish….
Ô Potager 3* partnerships
Ô Potager is working closely with most of Uzès restaurants - La Maison d’Uzès, Le Comptoir du 7, Les 3 canards, Le 80 jours, Le Petit Jardin, the Ten ou the Cercle rouge. Then there are La Table 2 Julien at Montaren-et-Saint-Serviers, the Hostellerie du Moulin at Remoulins and Au tracteur at Argilliers.
Its aromatic herbs are used by the local factory Parfum du sud in Vers Pont du Gard, where they are mix for tapenades, garlic cream and so many more.
And now, resting ?
From Novembre to December, it is time for the earth to lay quietly. But Clarisse and Adrien have still some work to do. The vegetable garden and its hydroponic installations need to be thoroughly cleaned, the cut plants go to compost, and the greenhouse is prepared to spend wintertime peacefully before next spring.
The right direction : Ô Potager, D 981 (just after the Saint Maximin junction), Vegetables and fruits counter is open from Monday to Friday from 10h to 13h and from 14h30 to 19h30, Saturday from 9h to 19h30 and Sunday from 9h to 13h. Phone number : 07 85 59 77 57, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Les Vignerons Engagés association (French Sustainable Winegrowing) with CRS certification (Corporate social responsibility (CSR), was created in 2010, following the 2007 initiative of few wine growers cooperatives looking to the future and wishing to change wine production.
The association today
Having opened its doors to private wineries in 2016, and co-created Le collectif de la 3e voie (The 3rd way French collective for sustainable agriculture) in 2019, the association counts today more than 6 000 wine-growers and wine workers, and more than 90 AOP (what should stand for the French Protected designation of origin).
12 commitments to follow
From winegrowing to the wine in your glass, Les Vignerons Engagés association (Sustainable Winegrowing) proposes to follow 12 specific commitments.
1 - Saving natural resources (water being the first to be preserved), 2 - protecting biodiversity, 3 - reducing the use of phytosanitary products, 4 - encouraging ecodesign and reducing waste (82% of each cellar waste is recycled or reused, 5 - fighting the climate change (through new packaging, energy saving…), 6 – ensuring traceability with certified wineries, 7 – producing healthy wines, 8 – stimulating local jobs, 9 – helping creating local jobs, 10 – developing community and solidarity-based links (supporting local heritage for example), 11 – encouraging short supply chains by selling directly at the winery or in local shops, and last but not least 12 – paying the produce at its right price.
What truly means this First French sustainability in wine industry today ?
Les Vignerons Engagés, that is a total of 31 800 ha (and growing), 1 wine bottle sold every 5 s in more than 50 countries, 4.2 % of the French vineyard and 3.8 % of the French wine annual production. It also means 30 IGP Protected geographical indication (PGI).
An eco-label from the vineyard to the glass
Taking into consideration the product life cycle and guaranteeing a quality charter from wine to glass (,
Did you know ? 3 vineyards from the Gard are part of the association : the Saint Maurice Cellar, the Tavel and Lirac wine growers (photo) and the Vignerons Créateurs (Creative wine growers).
Even if the city of Remoulins lost its status of regional capital of the cherry after the 2002 floods, the fruit is still a local product.
With 600 species worlwide, and about 200 just in France, its harvest takes place between the end of May and mid August.
Morello cherries, Napoléon (Royal Ann cherries), burlat, all cherries are delicious fresh or ready to be used in cooking.
Here are some recipes
To be ready for the summer, try the salty cherry gazpacho.
Prepared as a traditional gazpacho, the sweet touch is given by the fruit.
About 500 g of mature tomatoes, some 250 g of cherries, 1 onion (or spring onion), 4 or 5 tablespoons of olive oil, a bit of salt, 1 green pepper, 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar, a quarter-litre of water, 50 to 100 g of bread crumbs.
Wash the tomatoes, the pepper, the stoned fruits, diced the onion, the bread crumbs and mix all together. Add the salt, the olive oil, and part of the water till getting the consistency you wish.
You can add some water before serving if the gazpacho has thickened meanwhile.
1 glass of milk, about 200 g of flour, 100 to 150 g of sugar, 300 g of cherries (to stone), 1 tablespoon of rum or kirsch, 2 eggs
Preheat the oven at 200º.
Put the flour in a bowl and add the sugar. Mix. Then add the eggs, mix with the milk (if you think it’s too thick, you can add some more milk). Then add the stoned cherries.
Put the preparation in a greased mould and bake for about 30 mn.
Cherries and mascarpone mousse
1 pot of mascarpone, 5 tablespoons of cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh cream, some sugar (depending on how sweek you want your dessert), about 20 cherries (save some for decoration)
Put the mascarpone, the cream cheese, the fresh cream in a bowl. Whip with sugar. Add the stoned cherries and mix gently with a wooden spoon.
Pour in individual ramekins. Keep in the fridge till serving, putting 1 or 2 cherries on top.
200 g of flour, 180 g brown sugar, 3 eggs, 40 g of butter or margarine, 300 g of stoned cherries, 1 tablespoon of rum.
Preheat the oven at 180º.
Mix the egg yolks with butter and sugar, then add the flour.
Whip the egg whites, and add delicately to the precedent preparation.
Add the cherries dusted with a bit of flour and pour in a greased squared cake mould.
Put in the oven for about 1 h at 180º.
Here are some useful terms to know when having a drink in a bar, a restaurant or visiting a vineyard or a brewery in a French speaking country.
A rich vocabulary
French vocabulary is rich indeed, but can also be tricky.
Having some tips when entering a bar or a restaurant could come handy.
Here are some clues :
A beer mug une chope de bière
A can une canette (de coca cola, de bière…)
A glassful (or a shot of wishey) un verre (une rasade would be a up to the top glass of water, wine... - ou un verre de whisky)
Half-litre bottle une chopine
A half pint of lager un demi
A mouthful (a gulp) une gorgée
Here is an easy one… A pint une pinte
A pitcher (or a jug) un pichet (de vin, d’eau)
A round wine glass un ballon (de vin rouge, blanc, rosé)
Santé ! Cheers !
In 1834, Prosper Mérimée is thirty years old. Appointed inspector general of the French Historical Monuments, he starts to travel through France and its architectural heritage and tries to find a way to protect it.
Protecting the ancient sites
Visiting Carcassonne, some religious sites such as the baptistry of Saint Jean-de-Poitiers, Notre-Dame de Laon, the Vézelay basilica, numerous castles (Chaumont, Chambord…), the French writer Prosper Mérimée studies the sites in danger and prepares reports, creating the first stages of an administration dedicated to the preservation of the French sites, what will become one of France’s most famous institution : the Monuments Historiques, the French National Heritage.
In 1840, a first list is created, grouping some monuments needing quick national protection.
Preserved sites in the Gard
Well, the Gard is famous for its Roman pont du Gard, yes, but there are some more registered sites in the department : The 1st Century Roman bridge of Ambroix (Ambrussum), the Arles bullring, the rich patrimony of Nîmes, the abbey-church in Saint Gilles.
Good to know
In 2020, the Gard owns almost 140 classified monuments and some 440 Monuments Historiques registered, such as the castle of the duchy of Uzès, the Saint Théodorit cathedral or the 12th Century castle in Beaucaire.
The impressive work of Prosper Mérimée is still used today. In fact, the Mérimée database patrimoine monumental et architectural français, de la préhistoire à nos jours (Monumental patrimony and French architectural, from prehistory to nowadays) created in 1987, is online since 1995.
Here we are ! There is no turning back as we booked a discovery flight at the Uzès Flying Club, not far from Belvézet, on the road leading to Lussan.
This half an hour special tour is going to take us flying over Uzès, Saint Quentin-la-Poterie and, the highlight of the flight, the pont du Gard. Quite a treat indeed !
This is a first for us to visit the country up in the air.
Fasten your seat belts, connect your headphones and... take off !
After a brief presentation of the plane, the cockpit, the autonomy of the plane (phew, we are safe !), its speed, the radio frequencies the pilot uses, well... we take off after a good kilometer run.
We are grateful to the pilot to comment on the countryside, the villages and, of course, the impressive pont du Gard
Going back to the flying club after a too short flight (and having just one idea, going back in the air once landed), we have a quick look at the Belvézet photovoltaic plant.
About the flying club
Founded in 1955, the Pont Saint Esprit Flying Club is kind of the precursor of the Uzès Flying Club, founded in 1963. United in 2010, the clubs are known since then as the Uzès Flying Club, and administered only by volunteers.
Experienced pilots and learners are sharing there a same passion and key word : flying.
Planes and club facilities
A small flotilla of planes includes a two seater Jodel D112 and two Robin, DR400-120 and DR400-140 (carrying up to 4 people), along with ultralights.
The right direction : Coming from Uzès, on the road going to Belvézet and Lussan (D979). The Flying Club is on the rightside, not far from the bifurcation for Belvézet. Tél : 04 66 59 65 62.
This rustical apple is typical of the Cévennes.
Very tasty, the rennet of Le Vigan is delicious, both fresh or cooked, for sweet and salty dishes, fried in a pan with some butter, in a traditional apple pie or stewed.
Bought on the city markets of the Uzège and the Cévennes
You can find the rennet on the stalls of the street markets in the Uzège in season. Easy to store and enjoy in winter time, even when it is wrinkled, as it gives it a pronounced sweet taste.
Bouchées rennet with white truffled pudding : Dice the pudding and put it to fry a little with some butter.
Meanwhile, prepare the bouchées by putting 1 or 2 teaspoon of stewed apple in it. Then add the diced pudding and put it in the pre heated oven (180º) for about 15 mn. Serve warm with a green salad.
Roasted duckling with rennets : Prepare the duckling with some salt and pepper (you can add some mix herbs in it). Let is cooked in the oven for 1 hour at 170º, basting from time to time. Add pieces of apple 20 mn before the end of the cooking, and still basting. It’s ready, Bon appétit !
Rennet apples and conference pears jam : Let the fruit, sliced in little pieces, slowly melt before adding jam sugar. Stir slowly till the sugar is well melted with the fruit, and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Pour in jars of jam, close them and turn them upside down for 5 mn, so as to sterilize them. Turn them back up. Wait 1 or 2 months to enjoy at best the jam
A savoir : En octobre se déroule La foire de la pomme et de l’oignon au Vigan
Vézénobres is a medieval city located at 11 km from Alès and at about 40 km from Nîmes,.
On top of an ancient oppidum, Vézénobres is a great place to go and visit on spring or summer time. And if you bring along a picnic to enjoy in the country side, the visit will even be a great family time.
Vézénobres is a pure jewel, appreciated already by the Celts and Romans in earlier centuries. The Roman road connecting the place to the North of France, very popular from the 11th c to the 13th c, includes the Régordane path, with was travelled by the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
The path is, since 2007, a walking trail, the GR 700, which follows more or less the historical trail and lead to Le Puy en Velay, in Auvergne.
Two castles, one museum
The city of Vézénobres has two castles. The well restored 14th century castle of Girard, with its muntin windows and arrowslits. Its sober front, part of the city high walls, overlooks the fig trees, down below. Temporary exhibitions take place in the vaulted halls of the castle bedrock, which hosts the Tourist office and the Fig museum.
The Maison de la Figue
The large Maison de la Figue (House of the Fig) is dedicated to the Mediterranean tree from the Mulberry family. We learn more about its distinctive characteristics, flagship of Vézénobres economy for centuries.
We are offered a tour around the world to discover all the varieties of the fruit : Brown Turkey figs, leading country in its production and exportation, the Violette Moscatel, the exotic Jahlash, and so on. We learn more about its production, and are invited to have a closer look to the fruit at the conservatory orchard below the Maison de la Figue which hosts, since 2000, the double of part of the fig trees collection of the Conservatoire Botanique National, settled on the island of Porquerolles, in the Var. This collection is rich of a thousand trees, of more than 100 fig varieties, on more than 180 hectares.
In the eastern part of Vézénobres, known as the Sabran gate and as the Clock gate (one of the 5 gates entering the city), was built in the 14th century. At the top of it, a church tower and a large clock, added in the 18th c.
A village with personality
Overlooking the down below plain, Vézénobres is one of the 5 Character Villages of the Gard, along with Barjac, Lussan, Dourbies and Sauve.
On top of Vézénobres, in the North part, you will find the fort gate, the aura gate in Occitan. One of the city gates with drawbridge, it gave access to the city. Nearby, you can have a look at the viewpoint indicator erected in 1968 and at the ruins of the fort before going back to the village centre.
You will then crossed the last 30 m high standing wall of the 12th century Montanègre castle. Known as well as the Fay-Pairaut castle, it was mostly destroyed in 1628.
To end the visit, here is the Hôtel de Montfaucon, the house of Adam and Eve, in the lower part of Vézénobres. This Renaissance style elegant mansion was built in 1574 by François de Montfaucon for the Vézénobres countess. The pediment of the entry door inspired by Italian architecture, is very delicate. The restauration of the top of the mansion’s tower, destroyed during WW2, is due to the new owner, with the help of the architects of the Bâtiments de France.