Chapter Eight: Waterwheels, On Gard & Uzés

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.

It must also be the Waterwheel Capital of Provence, because thanks to a once-thriving textile and paper-making trade, this town had me singing, “Big wheels keep on turning…”

We walked along the canals (where we met a new friend)…


…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.

According to what I read, there are “122 figures of angels.”


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.

Picking up a map showing the various waterwheels at the TI, we walked through town to scope out a few.


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.

We stopped in to the Pont du Gard museum (included in the €18 fee), and looked at the various displays on how the bridge was built.


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).

I made a snap decision.  Before I could squeal like a pig, I made a 3-point turn and returned whence we came.  Our GPS was silent, however our car was not.

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…

…and walked the short distance to what the B&B said in their email was a “discreet” sign.


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…

…and soon we were walking the medieval streets…

…off to (hopefully) lunch…a really late lunch.  We walked past a garden we planned to visit tomorrow, a structure that would force me to make a drastic decision.


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.

We made our way back to where our car was parked to visit Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit et tour Fenestrelle, dedicated to Saint Théodoritus, who was beheaded in 322.


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).

His remains had been lost during the Reformation, but were found during the French Revolution. I could hear him singing, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”


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.

We wandered for a few more minutes.

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.

Near the cathedral was a view out toward the countryside…


…but it was getting later so we walked back home.

Back at L’Albiousse, we rested for a little while before heading off to a wonderful dinner.

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.

My main dish, slow cooked pork with risotto in a chorizo sauce, garnered a “Wow!”  I tried not to think about Deliverance.

Tracy started with spinach and a creamy cauliflower sauce, and she enjoyed her duck with fig sauce & gratin potatoes.


The only dish that didn’t really knock it out of the park was the Brioche French toast…

…with fresh blueberries and ice cream. It sounded and looked better than it was.

It was a short walk back through the narrow lanes of Uzés.

We’d have to get an early start on the day as we would head north to a little known…

…but very colorful, cave, and later in the day I would face the moment I knew I would have to come to grips with sometime during our travels.


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

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