We visited this region in the South West of France, named after the river Gard, a tributary of the Rhone, during harvest and were very lucky to experience the Mediterranean sunshine even in October. After all, Languedoc Roussillon boasts more than 300 days of sunshine which is one of the main reasons to visit.
The landscape varies from mountains in the north, to rolling vineyards and into beaches in the south. The countryside offers an abundant variety of activities from walking to horse riding, mountain biking and climbing, while the rivers offer water sports including canoeing and kayaking.
The Gard is blessed with many national historical monuments, dating from the Roman times – Nimes (the French Rome as they call it) and the Pont du Gard (the largest aqueduct ever built).
Lovers of food and wine connoisseurs will also appreciate the Gard for its remarkable wines and products of organic soil that is has to offer. This wine region, of Roman origin, is one of the oldest in Europe. The soil contains pebbles which retain the heat and result in juicy, fruity wines. The warm and sunny climate also benefit the wines of the region by guaranteeing the right ripeness and flavour concentrate of the grapes.
Red wines produced in the Gard are tasty and bursting with fruit. The reds are generally characterised by aromas of red berries, sweet vanilla and lemon notes. Red and rosé wines come from grapes expressive such as Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cinsault, Mourvèdre. White wines are produced from White Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. These refreshing wines come from Vauvert and Saint Gilles and fall under the AOC Costiere Nimes appellation represented by 37,000 acres of vines.
What to see?
Pont du Gard – this magnificent monument still stands here today was constructed in Roman times to carry water between the cities of Uzes and Nimes.
Nimes – the capital of the Gard region, and the rival of neighbour city Montpellier, is well known these days for its contribution to fashion – denim, which agricultural labourers across the Languedoc used to wear. Nimes is home to Les Arenes, a Roman amphitheatre dating 400 BC, in nearly excellent condition, where up to 20,000 people watched gladiators fight.
Arles – with its impressive Roman monuments, the arena and the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) dating to the 1st century BC, Arles is sure to wow as a city. During the 4th century Arles experienced a second golden age, as attested by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arles once again became one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean. Within the city walls, you can find Saint-Trophime, one of Provence’s major Romanesque monuments.
Uzes – Known as the elegant city of the Gard, Uzès medieval market and its streets are a gem. Wander around the small streets and squares full of private residences and antique shops dating back to the 17th century. Don’t miss the old ducal castle and the Tour Fenestrelle, a local equivalent of Pisa’s Leaning Tower.
Camargue Park – one of France’s 44 nature parks, the Camargue is a unique place with its pink flamingos and wild white horses.
Where to Taste?
Domaine de Poulvarel, which is only 5 min away from the boutique hotel Domaine des Escaunes. We visited this winery in the Costiere de Nimes appellation and highly recommend it. Wines are great value for money! Apart from a wine tasting and tour the Domaine is perfectly located to explore the Sernhac aquaduct tunnels – you will get leaflets with more information and maps by Elisabeth and Pascal, the ever so helpful owners.
Chateau des Hospitalieres – family owned estate located halfway between Montpellier and Nîmes. The winery takes pride in the high standard of its wines, whilst using unique wine making techniques that add to the taste and vintage of each of its wines.
Where to Stay?
Hotel Chateau de Varenne – boutique hotel located in an 18th century chateau that exhumes sophistication. The best part was to wake up to an amazing view from our balcony and breathe in the fresh morning air. Read the rest of our review here. Prices from €108.
Domaine des Escaunes, charming hotel in Provence, with the beautiful cities of Remoulins, Nimes, Uzès and Avignon nearby, as well as the impressive Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard (only 10 min away). Winerist stayed here personally and the rooms were among the most spacious we have seen. The rooms are elegantly decorated and the hotel has amazing views of vineyards. Prices from €115 per night. Read the full review here.
La Bastide de Marie – A warm welcome awaits you in this friendly stone country house or “bastide” – one that reveals its charm through its architecture with the delicate imprint of times gone by combined with contemporary decoration that has mastered the codes of this wild Provence without spoiling its character. Price from 380 € per night. Read the full review here.
Cool things to do, tours and more!
Pont du Gard and the Wines of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape – visit the legendary Pont du Garde, 2 wineries in Chateauneuf du Pape, visit to the picturesque of Les Baux de Provence and the village of Gordes, famed to be the prettiest village in France.
Provence Bike 8 Day Tour – A cycling adventure through outstanding landscapes and breathtaking monuments: whether the castle of the Dukes of Uzès and the famed Pont du Gard, or the sunflower fields of the Alpilles and the windswept flatlands of the Camargue region. Cycle along remote lanes, among thyme-laden hills and under the flight of pink flamingos.
Wines and Artisan Foods of Uzes – Over the course of this fun, relaxing day you will visit two excellent local wineries and experience the Farmer’s market in Uzes or St. Quentin-la-Poterie where we will pick-up some locally produced cheeses, breads, olives and pâtés for a memorable alfresco picnic lunch (weather permitting). In the afternoon we will drop in on a fine olive oil mill before tasting at the last winery of the day.
Arles and Provence Wine Tour – A great tour to an exceptional Chateau. Discover the ancient city of Arles, a Gallo-Roman city and a château in the heart of Alpilles.
Feria de Nimes – The great passion in Nîmes is bullfighting, and the gatherings are always well attended by both aficionados and fighters at the highest level. The most famous is the Feria de Pentecôte, which lasts five days over the Whitsun weekend. The town swells during this period and some two million people crowd into the town – hotel rooms need to be booked a year in advance!
La Bambouseraie Anduze – Founded in 1856 by Eugène Mazel, the Bamboo is a unique place in Europe. The park of about 15 hectares is home to over 150 varieties of bamboo, and a variety of exotic plants and remarkable trees. The proposed route makes visitors travel from the forest of giant bamboo, the Japanese-style garden, through the Laotian village and the incredible valley of the Dragon.