Cirque de Navacelles

The sun came out and we departed for our next grand adventure. Two hours into the drive back to Anduze, Remi surprised me with a stop at Cirque de Navacelles  — check it out on the internet, as my photos can’t do justice to this natural wonder of the world. Cirque 1Cirque 2

It is a classified UNESCO Humanity Patrimony (which means it’s considered one of the most extraordinary sites in the world). I was in awe that within two short weeks I was privileged to see two wonders of the world — the first being the Caves of Antiparos, and the second this deep, deep canyon created from a tiny river that occurred somewhere between 140-160 million years ago. Talk about the trip of a lifetime. I’m ever so grateful to Rémi for making this detour to show me this extraordinary place. My first view was from the top of the canyon. Cirque 3Rémi then drove the 10 km to the bottom where a village had been established hundreds of years ago. The switchbacks were reminiscent of a “E” ride at Disneylandand if the sight hadn’t been so inspiring I wouldn’t have been able to watch. We toured the small village and enjoyed the cascade and natural ponds. We then ascended going the opposite direction and upon reaching the top hiked to Belvédère de la Doline.Cirque 4Cirque 5

 

Anduze, France

Rémi lives in Anduze, a small medieval village with a castle from the 12th century. Le Gardon is the river, which runs through it, and originates from the seven mountains as it meanders down to Le Rhone. Anduze is named La Port de Cevennes because it’s the first access to the seven mountains coming from the Mediterranean Sea. The main industry in this southern village of France is, you guessed it, winegrowing. Languedoc-Roussillon is an emerging winegrowing region that has gained tremendous respect and notoriety in the past two decades. This area is one of the sunniest regions in France with the cultivation of fruit and vegetables as the second largest industry after wine. (Sounds a lot like Sonoma County, doesn’t it?).

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As for the wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the winery closest to where I am living at Rémi’s, and whose vineyards I walk each morning, is called Vignerons de Tornac. Some of their wines are labeled “AB” which denotes Agriculture Biologique (organically farmed and made, which means no sulfites). The 2012 Merlot and 2012 Sauvignon Blanc are definite bargains. For 3.78 Euros each these wines are delicious. In fact, we purchased other local wines for around 11 euros each which couldn’t compare in quality.

Marseille, France — The 2013 European Capital of Culture

In honor of welcoming our first grandchild into the world in January, my ex-husband Rémi met me at the Marseille airport. We toured the city by car and by foot, prior to having lunch on the Vieux Port in the centre of town that had recently undergone apparently a much needed renovation.

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Rémi in Marseille.

The sprucing up of Marseille celebrates the honor that was bestowed on the city this year in being named the European Capital of Culture. With a port full to the brim with boats, and locals and tourists strolling the dock listening to mistrals and perusing the many things for sale at the open-air crafts market, I sensed Marseille as a big village with a slow, charming, multi-cultural population, surrounded by the sea, lots of sunshine, beautiful architecture and cobble-stoned streets. It was easy to imagine why, at the turn of the 20th century, Marseille had become Europe’s second busiest port, after Barcelona, on the Mediterranean Sea, and a refuge for immigrants from throughout Europe and the world.

We celebrated our first night in Anduze with dinner at Rémi’s favorite restaurant Le Cabanon