Chapter Eight: Waterwheels, On Gard & Uzés
Day Eight – Brexit Chat, Big Wheels, On Gard, Paging Ned Beatty, Circling Uzés, Always Best To Check Your Emails, Castle Keep, Is That The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, Patio Perfect and The “Important American”
After chatting with some Brits about Brexit (they were the only Brits we met on the trip in favor of it), we were on our way to Uzés, but not without a couple of stops along the way.
About a half an hour from Bonnieux, we detoured to what some people call “The Antique Capital of Provence, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.” Fortunately it was a Monday morning, and nearly all the stores were closed, plus Tracy was traveling with her own antique.
…and then made a turn into town, passing only a few people along the way. In front of us stood the Collégiale Notre-Dame-des-Anges.
We didn’t count them.
Originally from the 13th century, the church was renovated and consecrated in the 17th century. There are numerous frescoes, paintings and sculptures.
At one time, there were 70 waterwheels, most of them established by royal decree. Only 14 survive today.
We checked out La Basin (The Pond) and walked along the canal for a bit longer, and it was time to move on and get our UNESCO card stamped again.
It was a one-hour drive to perhaps the most incredible Roman monument, the Pont du Gard. We paid the €18 (up to five people with a vehicle can access the entire Pont du Gard site for that price) and parked on the Rive Gauche side and walked to the plaza.
It’s here where you will find information, the museum, bathrooms and a cafeteria. The three-tiered bridge and aqueduct (nearly 50 meters tall…the tallest one the Romans ever constructed) dates back to the 1st century AD. The three tiers gave the structure great lateral stability, something I am seriously lacking in my old age. It also helped supply nine million gallons of water per day to Nîmes, a town we would visit in a couple of days (don’t tell Tracy, but there are ruins in Nîmes).
As remarkable as the structure itself was the fact that although the parking lot was crowded, once on the trail to the bridge, there were very few people. Once again, it was a gorgeous blue sky day in France…
…giving us the opportunity to take some lovely photos while sweating to death. My lateral stability in doubt, I did make it down to the bottom of the trail along the riverbed.
We crossed to the Rive Droite side, ostensibly to grab a bite to eat…
…but we made what we hoped would not be a fateful decision and wait until we got to Uzés to eat, even knowing it would be after the 2 p.m. bewitching hour.
Stupidly relying solely on our GPS, we started on our short drive to Uzés, but it took just a little bit longer than we expected. First, as our GPS showed us very near town, the wily female voice told us to head down a narrow lane, which became increasingly narrower. Trying to outsmart this machine, we made a right turn and suddenly we had stumbled into a scene from Deliverance. In a forest with a couple of trailers and some guys with scraggly beards and who had their pants barely on (I didn’t check out their dental hygiene).
In what was now a gravel lane with walls closing in on either side, the car began beeping because we were incredibly close to scraping the paint off this lovely BMW. Thankfully, we could see light posts ahead, so after driving (carefully) down the lane, once again civilization appeared and we were in a modern sub-division (I assume there might be a better route into Uzés).
Now in town, we followed our GPS, but every time we got to within one kilometer of our B&B, the mileage to destination would increase. We circled the town not once…not twice…but three times. It was here we realized that we were idiots (I know, it should have been sooner). We checked our email from L’Albiousse (our lodging for the next two nights) and they had provided us with the exact information of where to park. Moral: Read your emails! We parked in the cathedral lot…
It was so discreet we walked right by it. Once inside, we were more than impressed. This castle-like home, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, has five rooms (with original Louis XIII doors), and our room also had a marvelous modern bathroom.
One of the owners, Guillam, gave us some useful Uzés info, showed us the beautiful patio area where would have breakfast…
At 3:30 we reached the medieval town square, Place aux Herbes. Plane trees and café tables were everywhere, and when we saw one of those cafés full of people in the distance, we knew we were in luck. Terroirs was indeed open.
Sitting outside, this restaurant and gourmand store offered up a very good beef carpaccio with arugula and parmesan cheese, along with a bulgur salad with mint, dried raisins and pine nuts. We were saved.
He is also the patron saint of the town.
We paid our respects to the relics of St. Firminus (which I guess would make this the Firminus Terminus).
With a press of a button, we illuminated the organ. There was a joke there somewhere, but, being in a house of worship, I decided to move on.
I had wanted to climb the 11th-century tour Fenestrelle, the only campanile tower of Lombard-style to be found anywhere in France. When I first saw it I thought I was in Pisa, although it wasn’t leaning. Sadly, there would be no climbing allowed.
…but it was getting later so we walked back home.
I had tried to get a reservation at Le Bec à Vin before we left, but Greg at the restaurant said he did not know if they’d be open that night. He emailed he would keep in touch. And that he did.
He said to come in that night and we had 8 p.m. reservations. Not far from our B&B, on a lovely evening, we were seated in the stone-walled terrace at Le Bec à Vin that is shaded by a fig tree (well, had it been day it would have shaded it).
Seated next to us was a group of Americans who seemed to be on tour, because the woman sitting near us wouldn’t shut up about how brilliant she was. Speaking in a voice that I would call “affected,” she rattled on (rather loudly) about her extensive knowledge of the area. Fortunately her group tired of her rambling as soon as we did, and she was excluded from the conversation for most of the rest of the evening.
Le Bec à Vin provided us with one of the most memorable meals of all our memorable meals this trip. I started with a spicy Thai beef salad that was out of this world.
The only dish that didn’t really knock it out of the park was the Brioche French toast…
It was a short walk back through the narrow lanes of Uzés.
Next: Day Nine – Breakfast in Paradise, Are You Sure This Is The Right Place, Private Tour, It’s The Statue Liberty, Lit Up, Road Block, Nurses Aid/Pay Pal, Médiéval Jardin, Maitai’s Decision, Castle Keep Out and Never Ever Drink This Before Dinner