December         2007
VOL. 11             NO. 4
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  Languedoc-Roussillon: the other South of France  - Part 2

   the other south of France - Part 2

Paris Enigmas

Ici et Là

Paris' Parc de Bagatelle
   ~ A Folly
   by Arthur Gillette

The Bookshelf:
   ~ Aveyron -  A Bridge to Arcadia

French "Bread" 
   by Arthur Gillette

Aqueduc St-Clément, Montpellier.  Copyright 2007 Cold Spring Press. All rights reserved.
         Aqueduc St-Clément, Montpellier

    Languedoc-Roussillon - Part Two

    Walking French History: 
    the Régordane Way
       by Scott Anderson

Not the Andes of Peru
   but Llamas in Poitou-Charente
   by Brian and Margaret Venables

   Does Technology Pay?
   by Rayson Knowles

Visiting the city of Montpellier again was an incredible treat.  Often, when one likes a place after an initial visit but doesn't return for many years, the changes that occurred during that interval can be disappointing ~ it never seems quite as it was before. 

But vibrant Montpellier was certainly not a disappointment. Instead, it was just as we wanted it to be ~ easy to navigate, its architecture still inspiring awe, and as lively as ever as college students make up about 30% of the population.  Impressive is the 17th century Aqueduc Saint-Clément built in the Roman style spanning some 800 meters over les Arceaux district (the Arches) and the extraoridinary Antigone in stunning neo-Classical style on the River Lez.  Read more about this Languedoc capital on page four.

We had the opportunity to spend several hours with a friend not far from Montpellier to enjoy lunch at her château and to become enthused by her future plans for the estate.  Château de Grézan ~ le Petit Carcassonne ~ was our destination ten years ago when we spent a few nights, toured the wine-making operation and become enchanted by its owner, Marie-France.  Today, she has changed little and is still filled with energy and a bright outlook for the future of her château.  And, lunch was wonderful! 

Once again, Languedoc trekking expert, Scott Anderson, will take us along an historic route to discover historic landmarks, grand vistas and ancient dolmens.   This issue will also visit Roussillon ~ that little département on the Spanish border where life, food and the language is influenced by the Catalan culture. 

en plein air

You may notice that this issue focuses a great deal on outdoor activities, from walking the Régordane Way in Languedoc to trekking with llamas in the Poitou to a simple stroll through Paris' Parc de Bagatelle.  Nature lovers both in the cities and countryside will find many new places to explore. 

Quite appropriate to our outdoor theme is Aveyron ~ A Bridge to Arcadia, Thirza Vallois' most recent book and one that takes the reader on a glorious tour of a beautiful and less-visited part of France ~ although, perhaps, it is somewhat better known in the past two years for the remarkable engineering feat of le Viaduc de Millau (bridge) spanning the River Tarn valley.  Ms Vallois eloquent narrative of the Aveyron landscape, people and history will certainly entice you to find out more ~ perhaps by a visit very soon.

Finally, our French Wine Report tells of one man's personal experiences in the vineyards of the Charente and gives insight into the technological changes for the harvesting of grapes, questioning the merits of this newer method and reminding us of the camaraderie and traditions that might be lost to machines.

We hope you enjoy this edition, and we ask you to let your friends know about FRANCE On Your Own.  It remains free to subscribers with minimal advertising ~ although we do hope you will find the services of our sponsors useful.  Please remember that we'd love to hear from you with your comments, ideas for future articles or, perhaps, some of your own experiences traveling in France.  And, if you are visiting France in 2008, we wish you un bon voyage!

NOTEBeginning in 2008 the quarterly publishing schedule for this newsletter will change. 
Future editions will be in February / May / August / November.

Look inside

  to find a unique and interesting nature adventure in France with Les Lamas de Brossac, a vacation activity allowing you to experience these gentle creatures while enjoying the outdoors and a fine meal!


>  to continue with us to Part Two of our Regional Feature on Languedoc-Roussillon, with emphasis on the stunning city of Montpellier and a trekking journey with guide Scott Anderson.


> to accompany Arthur Gillette as he takes us to a place in Paris that may be  little known to tourists: le Parc de Bagatelle a corner of Paris filled with exquisite rose gardens, a fascinating history and splendid architecture.


> to read our review (on The Bookshelf) of author Thirza Vallois' newest book, Aveyron - A Bridge to Arcadia, in which she shares her exploration, enjoyment and new-found knowledge of the Midi-Pyréneés' fascinating département of Aveyron.

  PARIS ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your Knowledge of Historic Paris
                                                                                                                          by Arthur Gillette

Question from the last issue:  When inaugurated in 1607, Paris' Pont Neuf was innovatively unique among the capital's many cross-Seine spans. What feature was so special about it? (For extra points, name a second unique innovation featured on the Pont Neuf.)

Answer:   It was the first bridge built without houses. For the first time, Parisians had a panoramic downstream view of their city from the middle of the river. (Extra points: the second unique feature is that the Pont Neuf was first public thoroughfare in Paris to boast sidewalks!)

Our new question:   Why is the Île Saint-Louis (St. Louis Island) so named?

Contact Arthur Gillette,  and take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
 by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages

[See the answer to this edition's question
revealed in our February 2008 issue.]


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