Adventures in Anduze and Beyond
One of the best things about living in France is the continual discovery. Even when revisiting places, taking friends and guests, there's always something interesting revealed.
Today we travel outside my little town of St. Hippolyte du Fort, while staying in the Cévennes region. A twenty-five minute drive and we arrive in charming Anduze.
14th century clock tower
Steeped in history dating back the 10th century (!!!), Anduze was home to an important noble family attached to the French crown. As with many towns throughout the Cévennes, Anduze played a significant role in the wars of religion. During an uprising at the end of the 16th century, Anduze became the headquarters of the Protestant forces of the South. At one point, it developed into an independent Huguenot province and became the base of resistance during subsequent chapters of the long conflict.
Today, we find a charming town nestled against impressive cliffs soaring above a wide riverbed. The classic juxtaposition of ancient and modern creates an inviting air.
Anduze boasts one of the two largest Protestant "temples" in France. Apparently, the temple in St. Hippolyte du Fort is bigger by one square meter. Story has it that during the construction of the two structures in the early 19th century, builders from each town made surreptitious nighttime measurements of the rival temple. Adjustments were made, but in the end, St. Hippo "won."
Protestant Temple- Anduze
Protestant Temple- St. Hippolyte du Fort
Anduze is famous for its pottery, especially the aptly named "Anduze pots." King Louis XIV ordered these and installed them in Versailles. Often filled with a lemon tree or other plants, they often stand on a small platform with wheels for easy removal inside during winter months. These ceramic urns line the streets of Anduze but also appear in gardens and homes all over the Cévennes.
One of our favorite potteries is just outside Anduze. Fabrication occurs on site and they are incredibly lovely. Each year, they add a new glaze or tint, while keeping the classical shape and decoration.
Up through the center of Anduze, we find a covered area that has served as the open market since 1457. How I would like to time travel and experience the grains and chestnuts being sold there and eavesdrop on the conversations of the day. And most of all, observe the clothes.
This "pagoda" stands in one corner of the market area. Given to the town by a wealthy silk merchant in 1649 and inspired by his travels in the orient, he commissioned this fountain as the town then only had one other. Local artisans made the oldest of the ceramic tiles.
Between Anduze and St. Hippolyte du Fort, we find another tiny town. A few years ago, when dining in a restaurant in Anduze, we tasted a local wine and saw that it was from that village. We made enquiries and were told it was no longer available. Challenge accepted!
My husband had seen a sign for the winery, with tastings by appointment only. On our first visit, we heard the sad story of a feud between the property owner and the local vintner. As a result, the vines, reportedly among the best in the region, were destroyed. Heart-breaking.
We've visited the lovely domain several times now as we enjoy the wine and the gorgeous scenery.
For our final stop, we go south. To the beach! Just the other side of Montpellier lies miles of Mediterranean coast. My husband and I recently spent a week at Carnon beach, our first away vacation since early 2020. Just looking at these photos brings back the fresh sea air, the sound of waves gently breaking, and seagulls calling (reminding me of my chickens back home!)
So many beautiful shells along the tide lines. The patterns and colors made me think of Scottish plaids, not something I normally associate with seashells.
Our first night there was my husband's birthday. Our dinner out did not disappoint. Absolutely delicious moules (mussels) and other fresh seafood. And frites maison, (homemade french fries) are the perfect accompaniment.
We found these large signs in the restaurant amusing...
Top Left: "The wine of France is a tonic for the muscles and a stimulant for the spirit." (quoted from Doctor Widal, a Paris medical professor)
Bottom: "Wine Makes You Strong...Drink Wine"
These wines promise quite a bit!
On my daily beach walks, I enjoyed the patterns and textures left by wind and seagulls. The patches of lime green succulents against natural wood post fences struck me as appropriately "beachy."
And the colors of the sunset over the water were breathtaking. The master Creator uses an incredible palette, with infinite variety. A balm to the soul.
As with all vacations, the time comes to return home. Yet the experiences, the sights, sounds, scents, tastes, all linger in memory and are now incorporated into our story. We are grateful.
La vie est belle...