Languedoc countrysideThank you for stopping by. Once again I would like to extend a warm welcome to GoingEuro.com. I have included restaurants, accommodations and shops that I am partial to, along with other web sites I found useful or just interesting. Be sure to check out Travel/Guide Books/Language CDs for a list of  guide books and language CDs to help plan your trip and to take along on the trip.I would like to thank you in advance if you decide to purchase any books or other products through GoingEuro.com. Your support is greatly appreciated. Bon Voyage! .

France is organized into Regions>Departments> Cities/towns/villages. For  example, Gard is a department of the  Languedoc-Roussillon   Region. Uzes is a town in the Gard department. Herault is also a department of the the Languedoc-Roussillon region. I thought it was a good idea to organize GoingEuro.com - Southern France along the same lines. For example you will find information on Uzes by clicking on the link for the Department of Gard to your left or if you want information on Montpellier you would click on the link for the Department of Herault and so on. This site is an ongoing project, so I will be adding additional places from time to time. When I add a new place I will put a “New-added on such and such date” beside the entry. If I update a page I will put “Updated on such and such date” to let you know to check that particular page for additional information.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me an e-mail. Comments are always much appreciated.

I find having a cell phone is wonderful. I have got to the point where I am not sure what I would do without one. One option especially if you plan to travel to Europe on a fairly regular basis is to purchase an unlocked GSM cell phone. Once you arrive at your destination, you stop in a shop and purchase a  SIM card, pop it into the phone and you are good to go. You will get a different cell phone number, which isn’t really a big deal.  Do a google search for “unlocked GSM cell phones” and you will pull up a number of different companies who sell unlocked GSM phones. Another option is to rent an International cell phone from companies like Cellhire. You will find pricing on their web site. You can shop around to see which option works best for you.

I have a Motorola Atrix Worldphone and my service provider is AT&T. If you have a GSM cell phone, ask your service provider if they are offer International service and if your cell phone is locked or unlocked. If it is locked you cannot switch out the SIM card. If it is unlocked you can go with switching out the SIM card option. One of the reasons I went with  AT&T is they offer International service. Before I go on vacation I call them up or log onto my account and add International service to my phone. I get a plan for texting and data. There isn't a big difference in pricing for voice which is still terribly expensive even with the slight discount if you pick a Global Voice plan. I find texting is much cheaper when I need to contact people who I am travelling with as opposed to calling them. I communicate with people back home via e-mail. One thing to keep in mind, at least with AT&T Wireless the fees for data are pro-rated and based on a month. So if you pick a data plan with 120MB, this is spread over a month and not the time you are on vacation. For example if you were on vacation for 14 days you will not have 120MB if you picked a 120MB plan. You will have whatever the number works out to be over a period of a month. It is based to calculate you data needs on a daily basis to see how much you will need. I find the 300MB plan works well for me. And these days you can usually find either an Internet Café or some shop where you can check your e-mail (for a small   fee). Also if you bring your laptop or tablet your hotel might offer wireless Internet or have PC in the lobby guests can use. I try to use free Wifi whenever I can.

Note: My directions and travel tips below are aimed at those travelers going to the Mas Esperandieu.

There is a TVG station at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The trip to  Avignon takes approximates 2 1/2 hours. For more information about the TVG or purchase tickets click on the link. The site has an English version. Tickets can be purchased up to two months in advance and you must reserve a seat. Before boarding the train be sure to remember to time stamp your ticket at the orange composteur machine on the platform. 

The car rental agencies are  right outside of the Avignon-TVG station. I prefer using  Avis France.  For more information click on the link. The web site is in French and English. A friend of mine who travels a lot for business likes Eurocar, which she finds cheaper. However, when you book your car through Eurocar you pay the amount of your rental up front. Whereas, with Avis you pay when you pickup the car. Avis also offers GPS Navigation. On a recent trip to Italy I opted for one because I had never really driven in Italy before and felt more comfortable having one. I found it useful and it cost something like 10 Euros a day. They are not perfect, but 99.9% of time they work fine. One thing to remember when getting gas for your card. European credit cards use a chip and pin number. You insert the card into a machine (the card has a chip) and you enter a pin. Currently this type of credit card is not issued in the US. So make sure when you stop for gas there is an attendant who (if you are paying by credit card) who can swipe the credit card. If you are staying at the Mas Experandieu there is a gas station (with an attendant) in the same shopping center as Cora’s (supermarket similar to a Walmart that also sells groceries). Credit card terminals in shops, grocery stores etc. can accept either type of credit card. Automated credit card terminals such as the ones on gas pumps, in train stations and so on only accept the “chip and pin” type of credit card. For tickets on the SNCF (long distance train system) you will need to go to a window to purchase tickets.    

Lavender fieldThe other option if you do not want to fly into Paris and take the train down is to fly into Montpellier or Marseille. Unless you can get a really good deal on a flight into Paris it’s probably cheaper to fly into Montpellier or Marseille when factoring in both the cost of the airline ticket and train ticket. More than likely you will also arrive sooner. If you take an evening flight out of the US (and your flight is on time) you should arrive in Marseille or Montpellier in the morning instead of the middle of the afternoon had you flown into Paris and taken the train down to Avignon. Personally I love taking the train, but I do get in later. So it depends if I am going to spend anytime in Paris. If I am not going to visit Paris, I opt to fly into Montpellier or Marseille. Since vacations never tend to last long enough, an extra 4 or 5 extra hours does make a difference  Something to consider. One other thing I have found is flying into Marseille tends to be cheaper than flying into Montpellier.  Of course with airlines you never know what you are going to pay so it’s a good idea to compare prices for flying into both cities. I prefer Montpellier because it is closer to the Mas. But every now and then I do like to spend a day or two in Marseille enjoying the scenery and eating their world famous bouillabaisse.  I would also like to mention when flying from the US you  fly into Paris and from there catch a connecting flight to Marseille or Montpellier. I believe the only southern cities in France serviced by direct flights from the US (lying out of New York City) are Nice and Lyon (both on Delta).

It might be possible to purchase discounted rail tickets on the SNCF (state rail network) and the TGV. For more information go to www.voyages-sncf.com. If you are a resident of Europe (and have resided in Europe for at least 6 months) and plan on traveling within France on trains consider getting an InteRail Pass. You can purchase a 3, 4, 6 or 8 day (within a month) travel pass on the SNCF network. You must purchase you ticket before leaving the United States. For information on the regional rail network for Languedoc Roussillon go to TER Languedoc Roussillon

From the UK several airlines fly directly into Nimes, which about half hour from the Mas.

Keep in mind some restaurants are closed either on Sunday or Monday and some restaurants are closed both  days, so it is a good idea to call in advance to make sure the restaurant is open. I found a lot of restaurants in this part of France do not stay open late. People in the south tend to eat earlier (around 8:00 is the average) then people in Paris, New York or London. One other thing to remember, most restaurants do not turn tables like they do in the US. Normally there is just one seating which is why reservations (or arrive early) are important especially if the restaurant is small and it’s high season. Of course the nice thing about this is you will never be rushed. You can have a leisurely dinner or lunch. You will also need to ask for the check “l'addition s'il vous plaît”. They shouldn’t bring the check automatically.  

Cote du RhoneOn several trips I wanted to try a restaurant/bar mentioned in a guide book in places like Nimes or  Aix-en-Provence, but the maps in the guides for these places tend not to name all the streets or did not have a street index, thus making it difficult to find the place. Sometimes I got so frustrated I just gave up. So now before leaving on the trip I will go to www.mapquest.com and plot out the route either from my hotel or from a main point such as the town square to the restaurant. I will print out the directions along with the map and bring them with me. 

If you are planning on doing any walking or hiking you should pick up a TopoGuide. There are a number of books in the series that cover different parts of France. For example there is one for Gard (ISBN 978-2-7514-0081-0) that features 53 different walks/hikes in the area. The guides are in French, but a basic knowledge of French is all you really need because their are detailed maps and symbols. Available at bookshops and tourist offices in France and in London at Stanfords Travel Bookshop. If you live in the US, Stanfords will ship the book to you, but it might be cheaper to wait and pick up a copy when you arrive in France. However, I do think it is useful  to have the book in hand while planning the trip.  

When you are exploring the villages be sure to stop in the local church if it is open. Sometimes they have a bulletin board with events posted. A few years ago I was in Seguret and popped into the church and discovered there was a concert that evening in Vaison-la-Romaine. I hoped in the car and was able to attend the concert, which took place in the Romanesque church dating back to the 7th century. It was a delightful evening.

When visiting places check at the tourist office see if they offer a combo ticket to visit multiple sites. Sometimes you can save money by purchasing a combo ticket. For example, in Nimes you can purcahse a combo ticket for Les Arenes, Maison Carree and Tour Magne and visit all three sights for 9.80 Euros (adult). 

Best Brands. Best Prices. Free Shipping On All Ord

Other Web Sites

Weather Forecast for Languedoc-Roussillon - to convert from Celcius to Fahrenheit the easiest way is to Google in question form. For example, what is 21 degrees Celcius in Fahrenheit? And the answer would pop up as 69.8 degrees.

ProvenceBeyond - Travel information that covers Provence in English. 

Office of Tourism for France - Searchable events calendar and listing of towns in France along with links to local tourism web sites.

France for Families - Under Regions>Markets in Languedoc-Rousillion there is a list of the markets by the day of week. There is also a section on wine tasting under Food+Wine.

Languedoc Home Page - The site has sections on buying property in France and living in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Canoë Rivières de France - Lists companies that rent canoes and kayaks in Southern France including the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Amis de Parcs et Jardins du Languedoc-Roussillon - An association made up of most private gardens that are open to the public either on a regular basis or from time to time.

You can rent a Morgan roadster from The Classic Route (based outside Toulouse). I have always wanted to do this (even if it was just for a weekend), hopefully one of these days I will be able to. Driving through the French country in a two seater roadster with the top down would be such a treat.

House Rentals

Beautifully restored mas (French for farm house). Located in the department Gard in the Languedoc-Roussillon region . For more information including photos go to www.mas-esperandieu.com

Specialty Tour Operators

GoBarging - Offers luxury barge cruises along the waterways of France. The regions covered are Provence, South of France, Burgundy, Liore, Alsace Lorraine & Beaujolais. Some cruises specifically focus on wine, art and golf.

French Cycling Holidays - One of their tours (7 days) starts in Uzes and finishes in Murviel-les-Beziers (near Pezeras).

Languedoc Nature - Offers guided tours including ones that focus on the Food and wine of the region.

Hidden Gardens Hidden France - Offered all inclusive (accommodation, meals and transport) guided tours of some of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s most beautiful gardens. For a list of tours for 2010 click on the link above. If you have already arranged accommodations or live in the area they offer a revised rate for those who want to join in on touring the gardens.

Gardens(open to the public)

Les Camellias de la Prairie - 2396, Chemin des Sports 30100 Alès Tele: 04 66 52 66 40. 200 varieties of camellias along with azaleas, hydrangeas, magnolias and Japanese maples.

La Bambouseraie de Prafrance - Domaine de Prafrance 30140 Générargues (about a 10 or 15 minute drive from Ales, near the town of Anduze) Tele: 04 66 61 70 47. Exotic plants, bamboo garden, Japanese garden and collection of trees, shrubs.

 The Jardin du Tomple - Coucoules 30450 Tele:  04 66 61 11 31 Located at base of Mont Lozère (Upper Cevennes) Fabulous little garden filled with peonies, hydraugeas,  roses and perennials.

Château de Saint Privat - Pont du Gard 30210 Tele: 04 66 37 38 00. Privately owned chateau. French style gardens (fountains, statues etc.) laid out in the 17th century. There is also a chapel redesigned after WW1 in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War. You will need to make a reservation. For more information you can inquiry at the Tourist office at Pont du Gard. The chateau is about 2 kilometers from the Pont du Gard.

Le Jardin de Saint-Adrien - SERVIAN 34290 (located between Pezenas and Beziers off the N9) Tel. 04 67 39 24 92. Created from an abandoned medieval quarry. The centerpiece is a large natural lake. 

Jardin la Bouichere - Rue Dewoitine, Domaine de Flassian - 11300 Limoux Tele: 04 68 31 49 94. Just a little way south of Carcassone off the D118 (on the road to Rennes-le-Chateau and Quillan).

Flower marketJardin des Plantes - Montpellier. Botanical garden and arboretum dating back to the 1500s. Orangery and greenhouses. Managed by the University of Montpellier. It’s more of working/educational garden as opposed to a strictly ornamental pleasure garden, so it’s not picture perfect, but a stroll through the jardin is still quite enjoyable especially on a bright sunny spring or summer day.

Château de Flaugergues - Montpellier. One of the “follies” contructed in the 1700’s by wealthy families from Montpellier. Basically country estates built to impress and to entertain. When they were constructed the area was open countryside. Since then the city has swallowed up the estates. When you walk through the gates you are walking into little oasis. There is a French style garden laid out in the 1700s, an English style garden/park laid out in tthe 1850s and a Orangery along with the chateau with a fine collections of furniture, paintings etc. Architecturally the building is of note especially the staircase. The estate produces wine, so you can sample the wines in the “cave”.  About 1.8 miles from the center of town. You can take public transport. You get on bus number 12 in the direction of Grammont and get off at the Montauberou stop. The entrance is about 328 feet from the stip. Nearby is another “follie”, Chateau de la Mogère. The house contains period furniture, objet art and paintings. The last stop (Odysseum) for the tram line #1 is about a 10 minute walk. So if you decide to visit both places you might want to take the tram to get back into the center of Montpellier since it’s close by.

Abbaye de Fontfroide - RD 613 Narbonne 11100 Tele: 04 68 45 11 08. A beautiful rose garden in a tranquil setting. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours to tour the abbaye and the gardens. Check From time to time they have concerts, so be sure to check their website before you visit. Perhaps you can combine your visit with a concert.

Underground Caverns

La Grotte des Demoiselles - near Ganges Tele: 04 67 73 70 02

Grotte de la Cocaliere - St. Ambroix Tele: 04 66 24 34 74