Pont du Gard – A Special Light Show

The Pont du Gard is a 2,000 year old aqueduct, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France (near Montpellier).  Each summer it is lit up with video, light, flame and fireworks during a popular evening sound-and-light show called “Les Féeries du Pont’’ (Fairies of the Bridge).

This year’s show is called Ulysses in Wonderland. It will be presented four times in June, on Friday and Saturday evenings: June 7, 8, 14 and 15, 2013. Showtime is 10:30 p.m or at dusk. But definitely arrive early as there are some “animations” before the main event, probably starting around 7 p.m.

The Pont du Gard site will be open all day, as usual, but separate tickets are required. Seating will be on the right bank of the river so if you arrive on the left bank, you must be in by 9:30 pm in order to cross the bridge; the gates to the Pont du Gard park will close at 9:30. Bring cushions, chairs and blankets or you’ll be sitting on the ground; the shops on site also sell seats if you forget. My best advice is sit as close to the bridge itself as possible.  ”And don’t forget to bring also warm wears,” my contact at the Pont du Gard sweetly tells me.

Tickets for the Les Féeries show range from €14 to €20. You can buy them online here or at the Pont du Gard box office at any time. They’re also available at FNAC, Virgin, Carrefour, Cultura and France Billet. Children under six are free and group rates are available (for group rates call 04 66 37 51 10). If you have an annual pass to the Pont du Gard, you get a discount. Parking is free.

To contact the Pont du Gard directly: contact@pontdugard.fr or 04 66 37 50 99….and yes, they speak English.


Reblogged from “The Provence Post”

Une Foire Internationale – An International Fair

While I was in Montpellier, I attended an International Fair that was being held in a large exposition hall. There were goods representing a multitude of countries, each with its unique style and presentation of items for sale: clothes, flowers, household items, interior design, and much more.  It was huge and literally overwhelming, as I walked up and down the aisles. The most unusual thing was slimey, jellied cubes (but not wet to the touch) to put plants and flowers in; color could be added for decorative effect.

I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, but certainly enjoyed looking! See anything in the photos you would have purchased?

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Castelnau-Le-Lez: A quick visit

About 4 kms. from Montpellier, the town of Castelnau-Le-Lez has a population of about 15,000 and is served by Monpellier’s 2nd tramline. Le Lez is the name of the local river, which gives the town its name.

The town of Castelnau is home to l’Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a church which dates from the end of the 16th century, and has a 14th century bell tower.

As I was walking around the town, I noticed seashell markers called “Coquilles Saint Jacques de Compostale” on the sidewalks, as a way to indicate the pilgrimage route in the Middle Ages from Campostale to Lourdes (see map photo).  The scallop shell has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries the scallop shell has taken on mythical, metaphorical and practical meanings.

Two versions of the most common myth about the origin of the symbol concern the death of Saint James, who was killed in Jerusalem for his convictions about his brother.

Version 1: After James’ death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, the body washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
Version 2: After James’ death his body was mysteriously transported by a ship with no crew back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As James’ ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on the shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and the horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.

The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim. As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.

The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.    (Source: Wikipedia)

I enjoyed strolling along the pedestrian zone, with the sights and smells of the local bakery, flower shop, and other stores, as  locals leisurely went about their shopping.  Have you ever tasted a “coing” (quince)?

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“La Ratte” in Montpellier

I recently visited the Montpellier area and had dinner with friends, who said they were serving a side dish called La Ratte – hmmm, rat didn’t sound very appetizing, even as a French specialty.

However, these are potatoes, officially called “La Ratte du Touquet” (pronounced like rat and too-kay) and are grown exclusively in the northern region of Picardie and Côte d’Opale.  Considered to be the caviar of potatoes, with a chestnut-like taste and thin skin, they are named from their oblong and knobby shape.

Absolument delicieux!

Photo: pinterest.com

French TV1 News video report about this specialty

“What’s up, Doc?” – Les Carottes

Carrots make me think of the American cartoon, “Bugs Bunny,” and I don’t really think of eating them other than, maybe, sliced in a salad or added to a pot roast.

I recently stayed with French friends, where one evening, the entrée/appetizer was Carottes Râpées.  I was surprised at how tasty grated carrots can be, not to mention visually appealing.  So, here’ s my friend’s recipe, which I am adding to my petit French cooking repertoire:

Carottes Râpées

Peel carrots and grate the carrots (using a food processor makes this easier; result as in the photo), then stir in lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley.  Arrange in the center of a plate.  Add slices of tomatoes (sprinkled with parsley or pepper) for contrasting color and flavor, as well as for added decoration around the carrots. Quick to make, simply delicious, and healthy!

Vocabulary:  a food grater = une râpe (pronounced like wrap)

Voila! Bon Appetit!