Sometimes you get to places you would never know are worth a visit until you accidentaly end up there. The France department la Gard, is such an area for me. One of my family members owns a house close to Alès, where I explored this picturesque department from.
What to expect?
I can’t really compare the Gard department to the rest of France, as I have hardly seen any other. However, I do think this is a really interesting area with many highlights on offer. The high concentration of medieval villages surprised me, as do the guinguettes – little pop-up restaurants at scenic places along the river. Only those are already worth the visit! You can fill up your days with scenic drives along the Cèze, stopping for whine caves, river swims, strolls through idyllic little villages just to end your day perfectly with a french vin on a terrace, surounded by locals. Sounds good huh?!
Where to go?
As always, take a look at my mappa:
Highlights of the Gard
This little village is a must see. Straight out of a fairy tale, build on a hill, overlooking a turquiose river. A little square awaits you on the bottom of town where locals play ‘jeux de boules’ and you can enjoy an icecream. Dotted around the village are artist shops, selling their creations. If you are finished wandering, you can have a swim in the most beautiful river of France. This whole place is perfection to me! drive here via D4, the most scenic route in the area
Like said, during season (june-august), several restaurants open up along the river Cèze. The restaurants aren’t spectacular in themselves – think plastic chairs and simple menu – however, they are a good indicator for the best swimming spots. Usually the river forms a swimming hole here, accompanied by a pebble beach. My favourites are guingette de Berguerolles (also kano rent) and guingette st Denis. See my map for more details!
Driving around and just see what comes along your way, is always a great idea. We were pleasantly surprised when we took the D51 (goes into D17) from saint Ambroix towards the West and encountered so many cutesy villages, river views and arc bridges along the way! Besseges and Peyremale are just so pretty to look at…
and you can make a stop at the Guinguette Du Grand Tournant for a swim. But also driving east, towards the settlement Lussan or La Roque sur Cèze is a beautiful way to fill up your day. The Cascades at the last named village are a real attraction on themselves.
Whining and dining
OF COURSE drinking wine and enjoying the french kitchen is part of the fun. You will find many whine caves where you can make yourselve happy with the local whines of la Gard. On my map a few suggestions.
eh, busses…. ? haven’t seen any! I guess you really need a car here! We used to drive here, from the Netherlands. Now we have a baby, it’s easier for us to fly into Montpellier and take a rental car. It’s nice to stay a couple of nights in this fabulous city and explore a bit of the french coast!
What’s more to know?
You will need to speak a bit of french. At leas try it, it will be appreciated. Just use your google translate :p Musquito’s where bothering me like crazy during September. So if you hate them as much as I do, bring plenty of repellent! They are less active in the beginning of the season, like in may or june.