Several years ago we hosted a friend recovering from foot surgery. Exercise was prescribed and it wasn’t to be just swimming. Every morning, she would set off around 8 am, quite a feat if our imbibing had gone late into the night, to explore the neighborhood.
One day she returned from her perambulations thrilled because she had fulfilled the requirements of a group walk — circular, shaded in parts, interesting architecture and a great view. The result was dubbed — Jude’s Walk.
After a short, sharp shock of an incline, the walk descends to the Calvas road and rises up to the flood defences, then further up through the terrain militaire without ever breaching a Danger de Mort sign, to a fire watchtower overlooking the Gorges du Gardon. It finishes with a stroll through les hauts de Nîmes, the walls and gardens abutting the roads which return to l’impasse where we live. In the early morning hours, dogs barked a greeting, joined by a donkey and a chorus of cockerels.
This year I led our visitors along this trail — and thanks to the Mistral — at a more civilized hour, in the late morning and late afternoon. The Mistral has blown away all the hot haze, and we could see the expanse to the north from Mont Ventoux in the east (Le Drôme) to Pic St. Loup in the Languedoc (west).
The other day we drove towards Uzès, across the gorge, and hiked up the hills on the other side of the ravine. We left from our friends’ house in Vic to walk up to the viewpoint.
The landscape in this area is called la garrigue — scrub oaks, wild fennel, gorse, thistle — harsh, thorny plants that can live in this unforgiving terrain of rocky soil. The scents of the herbs and flowers waft up, mixing with the dry dust of the parched soil.
The poverty of the soil and the stunted vegetation on the garrigues contrasts sharply with the abundance in the markets and in the quality of life in the Gard.