Week Two

We traveled around to trace some of the history. Chris was always on the lookout for traces of the Cathars! This all dates back to the 13th Century and the repression of the Cathar sect left its impact on the Languedoc. The basic tenet of the Cathar doctrine was the separation of Good from Evil. The Cathars, Greek for "pures ones", were obsessed with a fear of evil and they sought to free man from the material world with the goal to restore divine purity. Be afraid. Be very afraid! There were numerous conflicts with the Catholic church and and a number of crusades followed. Read about poor Béziers on the Week One page!


Moulin Tarassac, FranceWe had a Day of the Cathars drive that took us to towns such as Minerve, Olargues and Moulin Tarassac. These were all old medieval towns set in the hills of the Languedoc. Moulin Tarassac, pictured to the left, was typical of these towns. Old humpback stone bridges cross semidry meandering rivers. The towns are comprised of limestone home, all of a gray-brown colour.


Roquebrun, France In Roquebrun we rented canoes or kayaks and spend the afternoon riding from Vieussam to Roquebrun -- about 15 kilometers.

As were were making the arrangements the attendant showed us pictures of rapids to scare us. It did. Karen and I left our cameras in the car as we were assured we would capsize a few times along the trip.

Not so for us. Of course when we told the fellow we were from Canada he said of course we know how to canoe. We told him that we canoe everyday to work.


NimesThe town dates back to Roman times, it is unsure if it was Augustus or Caesar who established the Roman colony. But in any regard, the city was a location of favor and numerous Roman buildings remain to testify to its days of glory. The Maison Carrée is one of the finest Roman temples left in the world and dates from 1 BC. The Amphitheater is in incredibly good condition. It can hold 24,000 people. Today it is still used for concerts bullfights. Not far is the Pont du Gard, the aqueduct built to bring water to the town.

Area in Nimes, France









There is also a very good pen store in this town - Papeterie Baille; 40, Boulevard Victor Hugo. On a previous trip I bought my Waterman Patrician fountain pen, in green - See Great Pen Stores.



Begude Sainte Pierre Begude Sainte Pierre
Begude Sainte Pierre

We had the half pension option so that included breakfast and dinner. Good decision. The meals were great. The hotels is a great value. Be careful about ordering drinks around the pool, of cognacs in the bar as our bar bill may have exceeded that of the rooms!

They even provide bikes and Chris and Carmen road their bikes to the Pont du Gard which is located just 1 kilometer away.


Uzes, FranceUzés dates from the 17th and 18th Century and is an interesting town to walk about. The day we arrived the car was registered some 42 C and the heat was taking its toll.

The Place aux Herbes, seen to the left, is considered one of the "perfect" places within all of Provence.



Pont du Gard





Pont du Gard

One can never visit the Pont du Gard too often. Each time we have approached the aqueduct the sheer impact of Roman colonization around the world just hits us. Built around 19 BC, it is part of a system of aqueducts and canals that brought water from the area near Uzès to Nîmes. The blocks of stone were laid without mortar. Some weight as much as 6 tons.


Beaucaire When in the area, a quick visit to Beaucaire is in order. It was also an important Roman town but also attained a place with French nobility in the 12th century. An interesting town to walk. Plenty of grand old mansions.


Avignon, France The town dates well back to the 5th or 6th century, but is was in the early 14th century that is fate changed. The court in Rome became impossible for the popes. Initially the Groseau Priory near Malaucène was selected, but when Jacques Duès, the former Bishop of Avignon, was elected Pope John XXII - Avignon was purchased from Queen Joan I of Sicily and this became the location for the Palace of the Popes.
Avignon, France
Avignon, France  


San Remo, Italy

We drove from Avignon to Nice to drop Chris and Carmen off. The next day they would fly back to Vancouver. The timing worked out as the had it been one day later they would have been caught in a air traffic controller's strike that basically closed all airports in France. Karen and Glenn continued with another week and a half to be in Italy.

San Remo became famous by the British "gentlemen-tourists" that were attracted by the mild climate in the 1860s. After the English, a regular entourage of European nobility frequented the town. Now, the grand lifestyle of gone, however, the buildings tell the story of the lifestyle it once held.

At the end of the day, it was a walk to Tony's on Corso Garibaldi, 130 -- really good food here. The pasta just melted in our mouths. The veal very tender. For two, with wine, of course, you looking at 70 Euros.


Bussana Vecchio, Italy This is referred to as Italy's trendiest ghost town. In 1887 an earthquake killed thousands and turned Bussana into a picturesque ruin. A number of artists have taken over the town, restored the interiors of the ruined houses and hooked up water, lights and phones. The earthquake knocked the roof off the Baroque Church but the shell stands today and eerie silence. One of the survivors was Giovanni Torre detto Merlo went on to invent the ice cream cone in 1902.
Bussana Vecchio, Italy


Alassio, Italy

Of course our base for staying in the area is one of our best loved locations -- Alassio. Riveria in Italian simply means shore. But this stretch in Linguria is the real Riveria.

Once you leave this part of the coast, you will have to travel all the way to Naples before the coast line has the scenery found between Alassio and the Cinque Terre.

There is more information on Alassion on the Week Three page, as we just had to come back again.


Villanova Albenga

Homes have been build into the old walls.

Also up in the hills above Alassio is the pleasant village of Villanova Albenga. You will feel like you have gone back in town while walking around this town.



Villanova Albenga
Bimbos during a break from a preschool outing.