Thursday, 27 June 2013

Toujours Ardeche

Chambres d' Hotes
For the fourth time in six years we retreated to the limestone plateau south of the Ardeche Gorge staying in accommodation that never fails to inspire. We stayed at Le Garn in the Gard district of Provence but within minutes of the Ardeche. Our room this time included the terrace shown and a large bathroom. Breakfasts were a feast of fresh soft fruits, yoghurts, home made jams, several types of fresh bread, cakes and coffee. They lasted well over an hour and made the morning runs and swims an essential part of generating an appetite.

It is a wrench to leave the accommodation during the day. As well as a pool in a walled garden, there are superb walks in the immediate vicinity through the olive groves, and cherry, fig, almond and peach orchards all surrounded by fields of Lavender and vines. Neverthelss we ventured out on most days into the quiet countryside, towns and villages that make this corner of France a veritable nirvana.

Our starting point was Barjac, an exquisite French renaissance town that sits on the boundary of Provence and the Ardeche. Its buildings meld with the surrounding landscape and there is sufficient commercial activity to make it  a destination in itself. Although not part of the tourist trail it has all the qualities that towns require including a boulangerie, a score of local shops and half a dozen good eating places, local musicians and a well frequented boules arena. We visited other small towns like Issarac, Balazuc , Aigueze, Orgnac and Vallon Pont-d'Arc, the Roman amphitheatre at Orange and the source of the Loire in the Cevennes. We had the perfect French meal at a nearby family restaurant at mas de trescouvieux. The week flew by and the images of high summer in the Ardeche are indelibly etched in our minds as the perfect antidote to those cool wet days at home.

Barjac Square and Fountain

Barjac scene

Village roadside flowers


Lavendar fields in Malataverne

Balazuc Door

Goudargue market

Orange amphitheatre

Ardeche at La Baume

Breakfast: Imagine the taste

More breakfast treats

Cevennes meadow

Source of the Loire

Ardeche weeds


Olive Groves

Almond Groves

Lavender at Malataverne

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