Les Rochers

Les Rochers rises directly behind the village. With its caves and ancient footpaths, this limestone outcrop with its ever-flowing spring has provided shelter to our ancestors for thousands of years. From the house to the summit and back again is an hour’s walk, up droveways and footpaths, through vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields. The view from the top is unsurpassable.

It is also home to a rare kind of vulture.

Lussan

Lussan, a classic village perché, until now off the tourist map, has recently been added to the list of ‘plus beaux villages de France’, a bit of a poisoned chalice.   For those who prefer France with its rough edges unpolished, the big draw is the petrol station – know as La Pompe –  which doubles as a bar, and serves meals at midday. It also sells English newspapers and good quality wine boxes.

Les Eyguières

A magical place of plunging cascades and narrow defiles, just an 8 minute drive from Fons (or an hour’s hike).  Known only to locals, it offers plunge bathing in early summer, and is an unbeatable picnic spot at any time of the year.

Tharaux

Wild swimming in the river Cèze with listed village above.

Uzès

Bypassed by the 19th and 20th centuries, Uzès is one of the most perfectly preserved Renaissance towns in France, unmarred by commercial and light industrial suburbs that disfigure other ancient cities. The last few years have turned it into a must-see destination, ranked No. 2 in the Guardian’s Top 40 places in the world to visit in 2014. An added attraction for families with children, is the Haribo Musée du Bonbon – sweet museum. Uzès is the still the production site for Gummi Bears! Its markets on Saturdays and Wednesdays are not to be missed.

Pont du Gard

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Pont du Gard is 30 minutes drive from Fons.  The aquaduct was constructed by Roman engineers, to channel water from Uzès, down to Nimes. It would be an extraordinary feat even today. Although the site has now been touristified, it is still possible to enjoy it as earlier visitors did and without paying exhorbitant parking fees.  By canoe, for example, from Collias, a village half way between Uzès and Remoulins.  Or by taking footpaths (GR on any local map) through the garrigue.  And you can even swim.

Within 25 minutes of Fons, the Cevennes offers an entirely different landscape of vertiginous chestnut-covered hills, narrow valleys, mountain torrents and far reaching views. A Protestant stronghold in the time of Louis XIV, it became a bastion of the Resistance in the second world war.

The Cevennes

Built in 16 BC, the Maison Carré is perhaps the best preserved Roman temple in existence. Opposite is Norman Foster’s 20th century response, the Carré d‘Art, Nimes’ museum of contemporary art. The city itself has a medieval centre, as well as a well-preserved Roman arena still in use today both for bull-fighting and concerts. Some things never change.

Nîmes

Avignon’s pedigree is impressive.  A flourishing city under the Romans, then overrun by the Saracens, it became home, in the 14th century, to seven popes, and its maze of squares, narrow lanes and fountains, is dominated by the Papal palace.  It is now best known for the International theatre Festival held annually during August.  Villeneuve les Avignon, the city’s younger sister across the Rhone, is less visited but is not without charm, thought it only dates from the 13th century, founded by Philip IV, foe to Edward I.  It’s from here that you get the best view of Avignon’s famous ramparts, and the equally famous bridge.

Avignon

Ancient port on the edge of the Camargue where the plage de L’espiguette offers miles of untouched beach backed by dunes.

Aigues Mortes, five minutes inland, is a perfectly preserved 16th century town within unbreached ramparts.

Le Grau du Roi

Méjannes le Clap

Although the name raises no laughs in French, the place itself is surreal. Constructed around the vestiges of an old hamlet, it was built in the 70s as a sporting centre of excellence by the départment.  It didn’t work.  But the legacy remains: good tennis courts, horse-riding and maintained tracks down through the garrigue to the river Cèze and its many “plages”. It also offers a 50m swimming pool that J G Ballard would appreciate.

Only 5k distant, but a different world.

A trip to the local marché, where food tastes as good as it looks, is central to the French way of life

Monday: Mejannes le Clap

Tuesday: St Ambroix

Tuesday + Friday (fullscale): St Quentin La Poterie

Wednesday: Bagnols-sur-Cèze

Wednesday + Saturday (fullscale): Uzès

Friday: Barjac

Markets

For those of an adventurous disposition, there is rock-climbing...

...and paragliding off Mt Bouquet.

Pepsy Dening, Mas la Clastre

30580 Fons-sur-Lussan

maslaclastre@gmail.com

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