14 November 2013

South of France - Nimes and Avignon #travelthursdays

As it was recently our 5 year wedding anniversary and the London winters nights are beginning to draw in, it seems only fitting that I tease you all with our honeymoon holiday, in the sunny South of France.
 
After the wedding we were so busy catching up with antipodean friends and family up in the Lakes, that we didn’t take it immediately after the wedding, but allowed ourselves to extend the festivities to later the next year. 
 
('Scuse the quality of the photos, they were taken a long time ago on a pretty rubbish workhorse camera. I think it gives them a certain hazy romance, non?)
 
 
 
Sunshine, wine, fresh tomatoes, cobbled streets and the best Italian pizzas we’ve ever tried.
 
 
 

We stayed slightly off the beaten track as is our usual want – we like to stay where the locals live; on the Venetian Mainland, Floridian holiday flats for locals or in a Parisian apartment overlooking a market, as it really gives you a proper flavour of life (as much as you can savour in a week anyway) rather than the grandiose tourist pretensions some cities present. Except New York. New York is best savoured through the craziness of downtown.
 
 
The Maison Caree, another ancient wonder. Apparently yours for only 378,000 EUR. Cheap.
We settled on a town called Nimes, and booked an apartment based on it’s gorgeous garden and feline owner called Mamont (who was kept in treats and cream by a lovely English couple). It was a lazy, hazy break, starting the day with fresh coffee every morning taken in sunshine in the garden. We ate al a fresco picnic lunches each day wherever we were with market finds, and - more often than we should have - carb-loaded with freshly made pizza in the evenings. 
 
The local pizzeria was hilarious. Everytime we popped by they greeted us enormous grins, watched Top Gear every time we were there with English subtitles and saluted our holiday with the biggest glasses of wine I’ve ever seen.

We interspersed the lazing with a lot of walking. We must have walked almost 5 hours each day, sometimes up mountains, sometimes along cobbled streets and always lost, daytripping it all over, including historic Avignon.
 
The best part of the holiday was the actually the most accidental. I studied classics at High School, and among the architecture we studied (such as Hadrian’s Villa) one that fascinated me was the Roman Aqueduct, the Pont du Gard.

I must have been wearing my invisible ‘crazy hat’ one of the days, as I discovered that you don’t just get to visit the Pont du Gard, but you can kayak under it for the full 360° view. So, armed with a life jacket, a crash course in Southern French health and safety (ie. “Stay out of the shallow bits and don’t drown”) and with the kayak dumped onto the sandy river beach we were off.
 
It was the biggest test of our marriage we’d ever had to date (bar the 25+ hour cross world flight to New Zealand). The first two-thirds of the 8km course was amazing. Cruising down the peaceful river in happy harmony, we stopped for a picnic on a handy island and kept true for the Aqueduct. It was stunning.
 

Then, it got tough. Once we cleared the Pont du Gard, a counter-wind really picked up, we ran aground several times and panicked. Well, I panicked, then Mr Kiwi panicked at my tears and had to drag the kayak, and a crying wife off the shallow we ran aground on.
 
But, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
 
Would you kayak or do an adrenaline junkie activity somewhere new?

5 comments :

  1. I so understand your kayaking experience because I've been there. The trip we got engaged, Mr. N and I went kayaking (for the last time). We too stopped for a picnic and watch the waves (it was a sheltered inlet of the Atlantic coast of Martha's Vineyard). Unfortunately we got caught in an undertow on the way back and were being swept out into the Atlantic. I was hysterically crying and Mr. N was frantically paddling. We managed to get ourselves sideways to some other random inlet and wait for help from strangers. Nearly died before we even got married.

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  2. haha oh man, I'm sure you can look back on that kayaking experience and laugh now. It is super scary being on a small kayak or canoe when the wind picks up though!! I've capsized before and it wasn't fun. I'd love to take a trip to the South of France, I've heard there's some really beautiful places.

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  3. Lovely pictures
    Well its good that you both took out the time from your busy life. The Country France is also very Beautiful.

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  4. this is awesome! Nimes and Avignon seem so beautiful.

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  5. What a lovely post! I love visiting off the beaten track too (and often do so around Britain). Would love to know of you have any hidden beach suggestions in Europe!

    And know, I wouldn't kayak because I officially can't swim well enough to save myself if I ran into trouble!

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