Boris and I are hosting my parents for a week for their first time in France (and first trip to Europe). I have not been given many opportunities to observe my parents do things for the first time, but when it does happen occasionally, it is always entertaining.
As Americans, we usually greet one another with hugs or a handshake. But while in France, French customs call for kissing so how did my parents do? They were very stiff in their greetings, but my mother did well overall. As for my father, I couldn’t believe he opted for the handshake when it came time to greet another male!
During their first meal, my mother gets a little tipsy after having champagne. My father, on the other hand, is really enjoying all the courses of a French meal, down to the digestif. Since he is insistent on trying everything, we give him really strong smelly cheese, called Roquefort, to try. His reaction is quite memorable as he says, “There is a problem with this one.”
There is so much to see in the south but with just a few days here, we manage to squeeze in a few lovely villages. Our first stop is St Guilhem le Desert, which I always enjoy visiting. Along our walk to see the gorges, there are lots of children jumping off the rocks into the clear blue water. Then we make our way to the medieval village where there are lots of little pathways filled with shops. Our visit to the monastery is free and I am surprised to learn that part of exterior courtyard was shipped to a museum in NYC (The Cloisters).
My parents appreciate different landscapes and we want to show them something they will never forget. While making our way through the windy roads to our next stop, we come upon a open field of Cardabelle flowers. These flowers are only seen in this region and they help predict if it is going to rain.
We finally arrive at a scenic viewpoint of Cirque de Navacelles where we have an impressive view of a limestone plateau that has been carved out from the Vis River that once flowed through it in an oxbow shape. Now that the river has taken a different course, it has left behind a small island in the middle, an oasis of green with a picturesque village, a waterfall, and many natural swimming pools.
Our next point of interest is the place that actually convinced me to visit the south of France with my Frenchie for the first time. As a lover of architecture and all things pretty, the Millau Viaduct is not only the tallest bridge in the world, but an impressive one by sight. The seven pillars that help support the bridge are each anchored with metals cables and make it more aesthetically pleasing. However, my favorite part is how the bridge bends over the town of Millau.
As my parents are really enjoying their trip in the south, it’s time to make our way north to Paris. While we have the option of taking a train up north, we decide to do a road trip (cheap car hire france).
To be continued…