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Abra

Where to go in France for fabulous food;a great village

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All together now, Uzes, Uzes, Uzes! 

Congratulations on making this happen!

We just loved the Gard region. We stayed in Bragassargues a few years back (near Quissac) and had an amazing time. Great food, incredibly friendly people, beautiful scenery - OK now I'm jealous :biggrin:


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Ok, now tell me your favorite places to eat there, special foods of the region you love, and all that.  Since we'll be there a full year, that can go all the way from truffles and holiday festivities to the first fruits of spring.

Brandade. Stockfish.

Actually, one of things I love about being in that part of the world is they do fish so well.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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On & off, I’ve been planning a trip to France with some dear college friends. They would like to experience the not-very-touristy side of life in France (don’t we all…) and have left it up to me to put something together. Monuments, museums and Michelin stars are not of interest; good wine, picnics and simple bistros – yes.

I decided to go with a base-camp approach: pick a town, install ourselves for 7 to 14 days and do day trips out from there, cooking for ourselves much of the time. I won’t go into all of the details but the planning has “evolved” over the last few months, inching up the coast from Collioure to Montpellier and finally to Uzès as our base.

Uzès sounds like a good choice and there are some nice rental options available, and it looks like the town has a pretty nice market on Saturdays and Wednesdays. I’m hoping that Uzès won’t be too difficult to navigate by car or, for that matter, to park a car.

In September 2008, I went to Pyla-sur-mer and although the place we rented was quite nice, the area was definitely winding down for the season: no local bakery was open and not much of a grocery store nearby. We’ll be going in early September 2010. Am I correct in assuming this won’t be a problem in Uzès?

I don’t want to feel too isolated and hope that there may even be the possibility to meet some locals pour prendre un petit verre.

Any and all recommendations (eat/shop/see/rent) are most welcome!


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I've always been partial to Epernay. It's a small town, but has everything a visitor could want -- like the ability to buy good, inexpensive champagne everywhere, including the gas stations.

As much as I like French seafood, I like rillets, cassoulet, pate and snails more. Epernay is a snails and cassoulet kind of town.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Really? You might come to Uzès? Since I live there you'd think I'd be partial to it, but I do have one other recommendation. This past September we spent 5 weeks in St. Antonin Noble Val, and did a ton of day trips to Gaillac, Cahors, Albi, Castres, Cordes sur Ciel, and lots of neat places. I thought at the time, and I still do think, that it's the best possible place for day trippers. Let me know if you want to know more about that.

As to Uzès, September is still quite full of tourists, so no worries about it being dead. There are some reasons you might not love it though. For one, it's not a gastronomic region. Almost every time I go elsewhere in France I realize that the foods and wines available elsewhere are more interesting than what we have here. The market is nice, but actually not really special. For example, the Sunday market in tiny St. Antonin was far superior. We always have trouble finding someplace to eat out that's anything like as good as what I cook at home. There's only one chocolatier here and he's really not that hot (there's a nice one in Beaucaire, though.) As for day trips, there are Nîmes and Avignon, but not a lot of small villages in the area that are truly interesting.

Of course, if you do come here I'll do everything possible to help you have fun, but really, I'd go for St. Antonin. Have a look at French Letters for last September and early October to get a feel for what it was like there. It's weird, but I think Uzès is a nicer place to live than it really is to visit, especially if food and wine are a big part of your agenda.

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Arles,for the concentration of good restaurants, concentration of beauty, concentration of Roman ruins, and also easy public transport.

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Since I have lived about 20 minutes away from St Antonin for the past 8 years I can echo Abra's recommendation for the area if not St Antonin itself. We find the town very beautiful, but too touristy and out of season there is a an undesirable expat community.

The area, however, is delightful with much to see & do. Cordes, Albi, Brunequelle, St Cirq, Cahors, Puy lecici and on & on. The food is good and, relatively, inexpensive. The markets are just great; our favorite is the Monday market in Caussade. Villefranche de Rouergue on Thursday is also an excellent regional market.

In our village a great place to meet & talk to the locals is the little summer bar/restaurant at our local lake. Everybody goes there for a drink in the evening.

You could do worse (here comes my commercial) than look at www.camp-del-mas.com. as a place to stay.

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Thanks, All. Was hoping that I had narrowed down the list of places to stay but now I see I'll have to take a fresh look at St. Antonin Noble Val and environs. One of the main reasons that I had chosen Uzès was the relative proximity to Parc National des Cévennes and the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue - all in our group like to hike. Also I'd read that the area around Uzès is quite photogenic - we're all big on photography, too.

Compared to the others in our group, I'm the one that obsesses the most about food and I definitely get cranky when there's not much good to eat. My friends have said that a simple bistro or whatnot will be fine with them, so I think the threshold is going to be considerably lower than what you cook at home, Abra!

My other two candidates were Collioure, where I've never been, and the Dordogne area, which I visited in 2003 and had a really wonderful time. My friends Marie & Jean-Claude fixed me some Confit de Canard with Pommes Sarladais - it was love at first bite. And a bit later in the trip, I that Sarlat was a town I would love to see again when I had more time. Also in Dordogne: La Roque St. Christophe, lots of caves to see, interesting gastronomically, lots of natural beauty, folks are pretty friendly. Rocamadour, not so much due to being overrun with tourists and the leech-like commerces that have invaded since, oh, that 1500s? - but very pretty at night from across the valley...

On va voir... more later, but now I must finish up some chocolate work for the next, ugg, 8 hours or so...


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Off topic:

You have to see Font de Gaumes (which is very near La Roque St Christophe) . Two among many reasons:

1. You will be sooo proud of humanity;

2. Rumor keeps saying it will be closed forever like Lascaux.

O 3rd reason:

3. It is in the thick of Dordogne where people eat soooo well.

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Nibor, Said community consists of a fairly large group of mainly British expats who spend most of their time either drunk or high. They live off of unemployment money from the Uk plus what they can make doing casual labor. They are joined by a similarly sized group of French dole recipients who behave similarly. They are very unpleasant to be around.

This is a real shame as otherwise St Antonin is a beautiful village. A little touristy these days as I mentioned. The market is good though so crowded as to be almost impossible in July & August. We normally only go during the winter months and even then only occasionally.

Limogne, also on Sunday, market is not as large, but far more pleasant. My personal favorite is the Caussade market on Monday. Villefranche de Rouergue on Thursday is also excellent.

You will find much information scattered through my blog including a list of local restaurants.

There is also quite a lot of area information to be found at one of our websites It lists and talks about many of the nearby outstanding villages.

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Just a few minutes south of Montpellier is an island called, Sete. It's lovely, just a causeway away from the mainland. Great oysters, good wine.

Montpellier is good too, to wander in.


Philly Francophiles

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I love Sète. 2 tips:

- Don't go to the waterfront restaurants that have barkers outside pushing you in. Instead, go to the market and have the poissonnerie open a dozen oysters right there for you. There are tables nearby for you to sit down and eat, with a glass of white... Costs nothing, and oysters don't get any fresher than this.

- Must try "tielles": Size of a quiche. Pizza-like crust outside and chowdery calamar chunks inside. For a magnum opus tielle, try Paradisio on 11 quai de la Résistance.

Lastly, am curious: If I am the "wrong kind" of expat, I myself can't judge, no?


Edited by Parigi (log)

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Nibor, Said community consists of a fairly large group of mainly British expats who spend most of their time either drunk or high. They live off of unemployment money from the Uk plus what they can make doing casual labor. They are joined by a similarly sized group of French dole recipients who behave similarly. They are very unpleasant to be around.

Got it. Just checking. I have lived on and off in Europe and try not to be too annoying. I definitely don't fit the above.

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