Trip to France in October 2019

Trip Overview

This was a monthlong trip! We spent two days in Paris upon arriving. Then we travelled to stay in a walled village 'Siran' for most of the month. From Siran we went afield to Carcasonne, Peyrepertuse, Aigue Morte, the Camargue, and Cassis. We also visited nearby small villages on foot and by bike. To end the trip, we spent three nights in Paris.

The Themes for the trip turned out to be the Canal Du Midi and the Pont du Gard.

We visited the cities of Uzès & Nîmes — endpoints of the Roman aqueduct — made possible by the famous Pont du Gard. We over-nighted in Arles on that side trip

Briefly, the Canal du Midi (not to be confused with the Aqueduct!) is an amazing engineering feat that cuts across this corner of France. It was used as a safe route for shipping and travel — avoiding pirates on the seas. It's still used for commence and now pleasure. It's strategically powered by gravity and flowing water. Before the trip, I had no clue about the canal! (Cynthia knew about it.)

I have added a Maps page, showing the places visited, and auto tours we took. [MAPS]

Albums from the same trip...

To keep the size of this page down, I have 'Albums' for Cassis, Food items, the Canal du Midi, etc. I also have all Paris scenes on separate pages - Commencement and Fin.

SEP 30, OCT 01 - Paris

We flew into CDG airport, then took a train (or two?) into Paris, like we did in 2011.

‎⁨Gare de Lyon⁩, ⁨Paris⁩, ⁨France⁩

Here, we have arrived at a station near our hotel. Cynthia chose this station because we will depart from the same station in two days to go south. The district around the hotel had plenty of things to see while we acclimated. So, next we go out onto the street...

Boulevard Diderot (outside the train station)

Paris Commencement

Read about two days and nights in Paris, on this special [Paris Commencement] page

Let's check out of the Paris hotel and hop back to the Gare and get This Party Started!

(Remember - At the end of the trip, we'll return to Paris for a couple more days. There is a Paris Fin page for those scenes.)

OCT 02 WED - Trains from Paris to Narbonne

After surviving 2 flights and 2 trains 2 days ago to get to Paris, here we are waiting to board a TGV train south to Narbonne where we will pick up our rental car and drive to Siran. Got on the first train OK!

Back to HALL 2 of Gare d Lyon this morning

The glitch was that our first train was held up because another train was “down” on the tracks ahead... causing an hour delay, causing us to miss our second train. But we got on another train from Montpelier to Narbonne just an hour later than expected. That train may have taken a more circuitous route. We don't know.

Train Facts. Paris has five or more train stations, each for trains connecting to other cities outward from those stations. Each as busy as an airport. The trains don’t leave the ground! (It’s not a bullet train like Japan’s, or a MagLev train like nowhere. But man, when one passes another in opposite direction WHAM you get a sense of speed. We were passing vehicles on highway next to us at like 2x speed.)

In Narbonne, we rolled our bags about two blocks to the car rental agency. Our 'Way Finding' went OK with just a plain paper roadmap once we got out of the obligatory rotaries.

What are these fancy boats doing here?

Dizzy from the rotaries, we found ourselves started down a road we didn’t intend, but decided to go for it — a narrow scenic road along a little river taking us on into our destination.

Interesting looking village...

We figured out later that this was the Canal du Midi!

OCT 03 THU - Arrived - Maison Siran

It looks like we are going to survive! We’ve located the store, the Boulanger (bakery), and the bar / bistro / cafe...and have noted their hours. Closed midday.

We took a small tour of the village on foot between breakfast and lunch. Will go out again when the store and bakery open during afternoon/evening hours. The village is literally a work of art. Every where you look is beautiful. Built in 1700’s out of available materials - stone, raw/rough hewn timbers, and tile roofs. Updated with water, electricity, storm drains, sewers of course.

The Grand entrance?
Just inside the entrance - our Rue with the Boulangerie on the left in this picture.

The bakery was couple doors (and on the right) down from where stayed. We'd go there to pick up pastries for breakfast. Maybe a baguette for lunch / dinner. Rough life!

Boulangerie / Patisserie

The clock tower is visible from miles away.

Clock tower -- Name?
Just across from 'Maison Siran' was the back door to the tractor barn for M Gau ('Go')

In the morning, Monsieur Gau would sit on that corner rock-seat.

Typical patchwork wall with filled in windows.

It felt like all this was created and arranged as a living artwork.

In a small square up by the clock tower

This square (name?) is just outside the Bar where we had lunch. We assumed we'd be back many times. See [FOOD]

(Image processed by Waterlogue.)

We had several lunches and dinners here, upon returning home from outings.

Bar Le Minervois

This fountain was labeled as the Centre of Siran.

Interior fountain

The square by the bar, post office, media center is larger.

OCT 04 FRI - Photos from a French bike ride. Siran to Pépieux to Homps and back.

A notebook of suggested things to do was compiled by the group of owners - walks, drives, bike rides. And... Maison Siran had two bicycles in the utility room. We elected to ride the bikes to Pépieux to Homps and back to Siran, using vineyard lanes and such.

Stopping at Lac de Jouarres
The Canal again, at Homps?
Typical scenery in the Languedoc region.
These grapes gotta be ready for the wine vat!
Cynthia set her bike down to check out the grapes
War memorial in Homps
Back in Pépieux, Cynthia picked up a Coke in lieu of CAFFE.

OCT 05 SAT - Minerve

We took a day trip to Minerve (‎⁨Les Causses du Minervois⁩, ⁨Minerve⁩, ⁨France⁩), north east of Siran. Built on the remains of a castle.

This village is probably swamped in season, with all restaurants going full bore. They are set up with a large remote parking lot and shuttle busses to bring peeps to the bridge that connects over to the old village. Only locals (Minerverians?) were permitted to cross the bridge in autos. (We walked from the parking lot.).

It had a Grand rue with shops, a visitor center, an archeological museum, stairs down to the old riverbed, and across the canyon, a replica of a catapult that the Catholics used to pummel the old ramparts. Also, a tractor man was continually hauling a tanker trailer up to a shed to transfer oil into the village from across that bridge. Evidently they have a larger tank there. Fun job!

View from the visitor's parking lot
Looks like remains!

The main drag.

Minerve 1

Our objective: A highly regarded restaurant, Relais Chantovent. (You can see the outdoor deck through the door.)

Minerve 4

After lunch we explored a bit below, but did not venture over to the Catapult on the opposite of the quarry valley.

Minerve 5

Relais Chantovent

Le Menu
The glasses had to be put down like this because of the wind!

See our plates on the Food page [FOOD].

On the way back to Siran...

More French countryside. We passed a token of Tour de France 2016, beautiful trees, and a curious place where things appear to roll up hill!

A tribute to Tour de France - Photo by Cynthia
A tribute to Tour de France - Cynthia taking a photo, but not of John!
Above Siran, foggy trees (Maybe on a different day?)
Siran - nearby Trees
Le Curiousitie - People watching a water bottle seem to roll up hill toward the Half Moon.

OCT 06 SUN - VIDE GRENIER - clean out your attic sale?

We walked to neighboring village (‎⁨La Livinière⁩, ⁨France⁩) for a flea market, where I saw this which was evidently a replica of a panel in Notre-Dame Chartes.

Flea market item... what do you think?
More vines, seen on the walk.

OCT 07 MON - Road Trip Day 1

We left Siran this morning, and will be away 3 nights [turned out to be 4 nights]. We headed east.


Our first unplanned stop was in Béziers. The medieval church and building atop the city drew us in. We parked and walked up, saw a postman delivering mail on an E-Bike, to find the church and a plaza with a tourist info center where we were reminded that Béziers was the birthplace of Riquet who engineered the Canal du Midi.

Pierre-Paul Riquet

The park where his statue stands slopes into the trees to feed rain to them! See Utilities. [LINK]

Lovely Square in Béziers

Béziers also has the remains of a couple Roman amphitheaters.

remains of a Roman amphitheater?

As planned, we visited the canal locks below Béziers, and saw a hydro mechanical feature no longer in use, and we caught a glimpse of the canal crossing OVER a river (via bridge!). The locks themselves are not particularly remarkable. Boats going down at the end of the locks can either turn to the right and traverse the canal, or they can be lowered further, into a river!

Corniche de Sète⁩

‎⁨ Corniche de Sète⁩, ⁨Sète⁩, ⁨Côte d'Améthyste⁩, ⁨France⁩

After Béziers we went through and stopped in Agde, Sète before getting to Aigues-Mortes. We were thwarted by a closure from going through Le Grau-du-Roi to get to Aigues-Mortes. You can explore these area with Apple or Google maps. We did all this without help of GPS or cell data in the car. We used a Michelin Paper Atlas, wits, and a little stress!


So, after many distractions and deviations we finally made it to our destination for the night, Aigues-Mortes ... a medieval walled city. We are in a hotel within the walls, the car is in a parking lot outside the walls. We learned upon checking in that we have to leave Before 10 am or After 12 because the bulls are going to run down through the city. The bulls are contained by 7’ tall iron rail fences that line one street (“Bullevard” Gambetta), and a set of closable gates that keep the marauding bulls from entering any cross streets. So tonight, we will explore the Wall from the inside, and the outside in the morning before the bulls run.. Then watch, I guess!

Late night DJ in one corner of the city
Early Morning, Outside a wall of Aigues-Mortes
The south gate, I believe.

Footnote. There was a carnival in full swing just outside the city gate on the east side. After dinner, we walked toward the loud music to discover a Dicso pajama party and a DJ mixing rap & beats. There was another DJ and party in another corner of the city. We had no idea the would be DJs or Bulls running here!

See Wikipedia about Aigues-Mortes [Wiki]

OCT 08 TUE - Road Trip Day 2

Well they had trouble rounding up the wild bulls, so about all we saw was a number of Camargue cowboys and cowgirls riding horses down Gambetta... we spent till noon waiting for bulls, not able to understand the periodic announcements. We did hear the standard warnings about WILD BULLS in four languages!

Finally! No bulls, so the cowboys and girls gave us a little show. LOL

To Be Honest - there was one or maybe two bulls captive between the horses -- they had their horns wrapped in some kind of red bandages to keep the points from harming anyone or any horses. Look Closely. (LOL)

The Camargue

We Left behind the hordes descending on Aigues-Mort to head into the Camargue nature park (1970) and saw flamingoes. We stopped onto a ranch that had Camargue horses for riding, but only looked. The Camargue Cross is displayed on houses, churches, etc.

Paul Ricard 'Ranch' with Camargue Cross

We then saw industrial salt being mined - scraped up from a salt pan,

Harvesting salt

We crossed the Rhône on a ferry, and worked our way to Marseille, DETAILS OMITTED!

Blue Rect = Ferry. Black rect = salt flat we observed.

Eventually we made it to our destination, Cassis.

OCT 09 WED - Road Trip Day 3 - Cassis

Cassis has its own Album. See [Cassis].

Cassis Harbor early morning, before direct sunlight.

I went out to catch early morning light in Cassis harbor. I found a pebbly beach, a Jules Verne themed carrousel, and the tours available by boat of the calanques in the area. (Such a tour was on Cynthia's list of things to do.) Please see the [Cassis] album!

Surprise! A bazaar and farmers market materialized overnight in Cassis. So much brought in just for the day!

Lo and behold I came across a Camargue Croix. I had I feeling I would. Couldn’t help but buy it for Time Haven! The Cassis market was amazing.

We nixed the idea of touring any Calanques by boat, and drove toward the national park just outside Cassis. We hiked in that area and checked it out. We learned that this calanque had been a quarry so a lot of the rock was strewn remains of that activity.

Leaving Cassis, we took a road up and over The Route des Crêtes over Cap Canaille. See [Above Cassis].

Tonight we are in Arles, France. Photos of Roman stuff tomorrow. Signing off!

OCT 10 THU - Road trip continues - Arles

Only 13 photos here out of dozens taken. Terse captions must suffice for now. I have stories to write! Bought a Hat!

Arena 1
Arena 2
Arena 3
Arena 4
Arles, Columns - outdoor museum?
Arles, Hotel Voltaire
Place du Forum (a remnant!)
Arles Square
Van Gough hangout? Cafe Nuit?
Vincent - the man himself

OCT 11 FRI - Arles to Uzès

Arles, Gheary

Leaving Arles... This is a multi-purpose space under construction. Design by Frank you know who. We figured that the circular base is surrounding it temporary for protection, but in 2023 I read it is "The Drum". Our hotel guy had good things to say it, like how it took on the surrounding colors. You can read about it here [LUMA]

Pont du Gard

The Romans built an aqueduct that ran for ~50 kilometers delivering water from Uzès to Nîmes. The aqueduct crossed the Gard (Gardon) river via the Pont Du Gard, which they built. All were visited on this week’s trip and are shown. We visited these sites out of order.

1 - from a trail we hiked up
Trying to photograph Pont du Gard!
Afternoon Shadow, means we better get in to the Museum!
Where the water flowed!
In the on-site Museum


We arrived in Uzès where we will check out the water source, or start of the aqueduct.

Uzès - famous Church Tower
Source of the water in Uzès!
Aqueduct Model / Map -- Uzès → Nîmes


In Nîmes, the water was distributed at the “Castellum Divisorium”, a circular pool with ten ports. Each port has a sluice gate that can be opened to allow water to flow to different parts of the city.

The Divisorium

Castellum aquae Divisorium info [LINK]

Nîmes Arena

Rewind to Roman arenas in cities we visited... Both Arles and Nîmes have/had amphitheaters. We toured both arenas. The Arles amphitheatre was bombed in 1944.

Nîmes Arena

The Nîmes amphitheatre had a number of exhibits, including a chamber with Gladiator artifacts and videos.

Nîmes Gladiator

Shown is an iPhone screenshot from Spartacus, where Kirk Douglas is about to get the thumbs up or down.

Nimes Arena Display - Kirk Douglas
Nimes Arena Trident

OCT 12 SAT - Uzès

Breakfast in Hostellerie (Hotel & Restaurant) where a cocker spaniel sat near our table.

Huh? Back in Siran already? Evidently drove back from Uzès.


We walked out of our village for 30 minutes (always stopping to photograph something) over to a hilltop that has a 5000 year old megalithic “dolmen”. We could tell it had been restored recently.

24 meters long, three compartments. Translation of 3 parts?
Dolmen 3
Dolmen Sign 1 - Shows setting
Dolmen Sign 2 - Translation of 3 parts?

Things Arranged Neatly

A modern walking meditation spiral next to the dolmen.
Pine trees planted in rows!

OCT 13 SUN - Black Mountain Whiskey

Maybe Drop OCT 13th altogether? (Check Photos for clues)

Had a glass of Black Mountain Whiskey on our first outing, at restaurant Relais Chantovent. Now we may seek out the distillerie since it’s not far away. [LINK]

Ha! Turns out that Siran’s local Bar a Vin Restauration Caviste LA CAVE had Black Mountain 1 & 2, and Fumé (smoky) on the shelf! [La Cave]

OCT 14 MON - Domestic

We went grocery shopping today in village LaRedorte. There was an outdoor laundromat in the parking lot! See Utilities page for more...

OCT 15 TUE - Carcassonne

ALL the following things are within the walls of La Cité, aka Carcassonne, or just outside. We spent about 4 hours there.

I need to put these in a better order. Sigh.

The medieval walled city La Cité as seen from modern Carcassonne, after our visit.

Back to Siran.

OCT 16 WED - A visit to Caunes-Minervois and the Marble Quarry

Marble has its own a special topic page. [LINK]

OCT16-159 Giant Marble Head!

OCT 17 THU - Peyrepertuse

Long day today visiting yet another medieval site — the “chateau” more a hilltop castle / fortification, named the Castle of Peyrepertuse. Impossible to take a single simple photo of it, because you climb up to it on foot, then you are inside it! It has an east end and a higher west end. Photos show looking Up at the west end tower, and down from the tower. Also some interior views, the trail, and steps leading up to the entrance portal. Not sure when it was built, but goes back at least to year 900AD. The village below was occupied BC.

They sure were obsessed with creating defensible locations.

Looking down from one of the west towers. — at Château de Peyrepertuse.

Here is a Long run of modernized steps — rocks leveled by cement, railings added.

Can you climb these steps????
Back down the same steps.

Going on the trail used by All going to the Castle for centuries. Rocks worn smooth by feet. Rocks used for handholds worn smooth by hards.

Well worn path
Look closely - you can see a person looking out from the tower!
A Medieval mystery detective at work.
Nice perch.
Altar in the church.
Is this what I think it is??

Speaking of cold bums, here is what was evidently a toilet. Imagine hanging your ass out over a 300’ cliff!


OCT 18 FRI - a little Olonzac

With just a few days left before we head back to Paris... No Barcelona, no Biarritz this trip. Just as well not going to Barcelona as there in Tension in the streets over the Catalonian referendum. Biarritz too far.

Saturday we’ll do a road trip, possibly to Albi, or halfway and back via the Black Mountains (Montaigne Noir). Surprise! A train strike was announced last night. At this point it won’t affect our return to Paris on Monday. Shown here is a statue at a war memorial in Olonzac today. (This is on the flip side of the monument in Olonzac.)


So, what else did we do?


At the start of today’s road trip we passed back through Caunes-Minervois, so we went to the in-town marble “totem pole” to get more info. (Will be on Marble page! Sorry!) The plaque is shown here, as well as four views of the base. Quite a wild sculpture. I leave the translation to others.

In Caunes-Minervois we also stopped into a bar-tabac to pick up a jambon to take on the road. I noticed that the bar was decorated with the red marble from the nearby quarry. Bar top as well. They had red marble gift items in a display case. Sorry - no photos, or gifts for you! (Cynthia returned one evening to buy a red marble+cork wine bottle stopper.)

We noticed this tower from a distance so went into the village (Village Lespinassière) to check it out. There was a quiet little neighborhood around it.

Village Lespinassière Clock tower from the road, with wildflowers
Tower. Lespin 3134
Tower Base, detail - Lespin 3132

Outside Caunes-Minervois, we passed this Roman bridge! ‎⁨Forêt Domaniale des Soulanes de Nore⁩, ⁨Caunes-Minervois⁩, ⁨France⁩.

Roman Bridge

OCT 20 SUN - Hautpoul - Pic de Nore

Yesterday’s adventure included a side trip (literally, as you will see) over to Hautpoul, a village near Mazamet. It’s on a hillside. There are some remains, and some very nice private homes.

Hautpoul 1
Hautpoul 2

Mere steps from here (seriously), we popped into La Tavern d'Hautpoul for bowls of ice cream and espresso.

Hautpoul 3

This suspension bridge goes over to more ruins on adjacent hilltop.

Hautpoul 4 - suspension bridge

We didn’t take time to go over the high foot bridge!

Our last stop was the Pic de Nore, the highest point in this part of France. A Telecom facility was almost above the clouds when we arrived, but then got socked in by a salty cloud bank. The fence around the facility reminded me of the walled cities we have visited on our Tour de France. On a clear day, one can see the Mediterranean Sea.

Pic de Nore 1
Pic de Nore 2
Pic de Nore 3

OCT 21 MON Departing Siran, Narbonne, train to Paris

Today, after saying goodbyes, packing up, and loading the car, we left Siran behind and drove to Narbonne to catch a train back to Paris. (We’ll be in Paris three nights.) We did some sightseeing in Narbonne and had an excellent lunch of Galettes and deserts.

Cynthia showing an Oregon book to M.Gau.

We also gifted M Gau with a jar of Oregon reserves we'd brought for this purpose.

We drove to Narbonne and turned in the rental car w/o problem, having driven ~1000km (a million meters!). CDS gets a Diploma for mostly safe driving!

Cynthia got her Cafe Gourmand in Norbonne, after looking for it all along elsewhere. (See FOOD page.)

Narbonne is a fair little city - worthy of more time, but from Siran we went to closer or more distant places. :^(

We toured the grounds of the unfinished Narbonne cathedral, Saint-Eutrope. Info in English from a sign tells the sad story of the half-finished cathedral better than the Wikipedia article, which I will share because of the aerial photo. See [WIKI].

Saint Eutrope story

I'll spare you my own excellent photos of the cathedral and the city, thus concluding the non-Paris portion of our trip.

The train was right on time. On the train trip back to Paris, while on WiFi, I got a diploma for experiencing 300 km/hr!

Paris-Fin page

Read about final days and nights in Paris, on this special [Paris Fin] page

Things Not included on any page

Here is a list of things I photographed, but are not represented by images on these pages. There are things mentioned but not shown, and of course things that are neither mentioned or shown... common things, like local cats.

Floor Mosaic, as an example of something not shown on this page... LOL

If you are curious about anything in particular, feel free to ask. Maybe I can provide a photo or an answer for you. Higher res photos might be available for a nominal contribution. LOL

Curious note about the great circle route

I used a great circle route distance calculator to figure three distances, as below:

PDX -> CDG = 5125.30 miles

Via Stopover in Iceland
PDX -> KEF = 3744.13 miles
KEF -> CDG = 1387.59 miles

The two hop trip adds up to 5,132, or about 6 miles longer than the great circle route. You can see that the Great Circle route between PDX & CDG nearly passes over Iceland.

Ref: []
I had to use city names, not airport codes.
reykjavik, Iceland

Other Trips

The 2011 trip to France (April-May) was equally neat, with a longer stay in Paris. RER Train to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where we picked up a rental car for a tour of Normandy: Giverny, Hon Fleur, Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Île-de-Bréhat, Pointe du Raz, ‎⁨Huelgoat⁩, Châteaulin⁩, Concarneau⁩, ‎⁨Pont-Aven⁩, Nantes, Amboise, ‎⁨Château de Chenonceau⁩ and other chateaus along the way, Vouvray, finally ending in Chartres. We turned the car in at Chartres, and trained back to Paris for a couple days before flying home.

2011 will not be easy! I'll have to limit to a few photos from each place. I don't think I have any notes from that trip. Question is: Why? Because it will be nice to review the highlights of a great trip. I'll pick them out of iPhotos and stay away from Facebook 2011. (12 years back!)