France 2003

Cévennes

May 26th, 2003


Monday - Nîmes to Anduze

A street on the way to the Jardins de la Fontaine. The temple of Diana in the Jardins. The Magne Tower. The Nîmes Arena. The Nîmes Arena showing the seating capacity of 22,000. Looking across the river from the bus stop in Anduze. An Anduze side street.

We walked out into a rainy and chilly Nîmes passing the Maison Carrée to a little place where we had inexpensive but good petit dejuner. With packs we walked to the Jardins de la Fontaine. These have elaborate waterways that were unfortunately empty. A large formal statuary area oriented to the south has elegant stairways which lead up a hill with dripping grotto and exotic plantings. We could hear birds but saw none. We mounted the hill to a Roman ruin called the Magne Tower from which we could see the entire surroundings to the east south and west.

We climbed down the circular stairs by which we'd mounted and walked back to the town and the Maison Carrée where we toured the exhibit. It was built in the memory of two young Roman princes, Caius and Lucius, grandsons and adopted sons of Emperor Augustus. Erected about the time of Christ and has been preserved by continued use since the 11th Century.

We walked on to the Arena stopping across the street for a café-au-lait. We then toured the structure which could seat about 22,000 people for gladiator and bull fights. It is another amazing structure from Roman times which is still in use today. It was fascinating, but we shortly decided, that we had proceed to catch the Anduze bus at 2:00 p.m. and headed for the Gare behind which was the bus station.

The drive to Anduze (with an overly chatty New Yorker) passed by fields and villages - mostly flat land that lead up to the mountains in the distance. I had gotten the Garmin global positioning system working in the morning and it was fun to see our progress to Anduze along the route.

Anduze was a small town with a Sycamore-lined main street leading down to the river. At the Office de Tourisme, next to the bus stop, there were several women who were very helpful on hotels and plans for the next day. We decided to try the gite d’etap, a hostel, which opened at 5:00 p.m. This left time for a stroll down by the river which was dominated by a hill to the southwest with slanted layers of pale rock between the greenery. It still was drizzling as we walked back around the town and to the gite. We were given a lovely room with private bath (and three extra bunks for any friends we might make). The father and son, Sebastian, who ran the gite gave us a number of recommendations on our planned itinerary over the next few days and were extremely friendly and helpful. They also told us about the flood in Anduze the prior year which had filled about two thirds of the bottom story of the gite.

After settling in, we walked back to a little restaurant that we'd seen in the middle of town up the hill called l'Establet. It was a lovely dinner which we shared with each other. Warmed goat cheese salad followed by a chicken breast in tarragon and Bon had a mixture of sausage, onions, mushrooms, ham, bacon and wonderful elastic mashed potatoes made with cream, cheese and garlic. Bon has vowed to recreate everything for Bastille day this year!

Feeling warmed by the dinner and wine, we walked home as the light faded at about 9:40 p.m. It’s was little chilly in the gite but pleasant as well.

Copyright 2003 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved