Spotlight on Beaucaire, France: A Gem Near Nimes & Avignon

Spotlight on Beaucaire, France: A Gem Near Nimes & Avignon

At The Loftus Guides we seek to inspire you with suggested destinations that are unique and off-the-beaten-track: places that many travelers overlook, but shouldn’t. While we do aim to provide you with plenty of inspiring lists to peruse, we also want to bring you some local flavor, showcasing places around the world that deserve a closer look. This week, we train a spotlight on the charming town of Beaucaire, France. 

Beaucaire is nestled in the department of Gard right beside the Rhone River, which forms a natural boundary between Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. The massive floodgates at the water’s edge are proof that flooding has at times been a real threat to this low-lying part of the region. The surrounding landscapes are lush and green, and the town is bathed in that extraordinary Southern French light that so many of us know and love. 

The Light of Beaucaire, southern France

An Easy Trip From Nîmes, Arles or Avignon

Beaucaire lies at the centre of a triangle formed by the important Southern cities of Nimes, Arles and Avignon. Only 30 to 40 minutes away by train or car, it makes an easy and lovely trip from all of these places. It also lies in close reach of the ancient Roman town of Orange, the village of Uzès, the UNESCO-listed Roman aqueduct known as the Pont du Gard, and numerous other iconic destinations in the South of France. 

Read related: A Visit to France’s Lascaux Caves and Their Paleolithic Wonders

Starting to understand just how well-situated this little town is? Now let’s take a look at why it’s special in its own right.

Top Things to See & Do in Beaucaire

Although it’s not especially touristy, Beaucaire has so much to offer, from picturesque strolls to canal-side cafes, restaurants serving delicious local gastronomy and quaint little shops. Do turn down the town’s many small alleys and streets: you never know what you’ll find!

Take a Walk by the Canal

Port and boats in Beaucaire

The canal adds much to the charm of this little town, with its lush waterside trees, decorated houseboats and opportunities for boat tours. Visiting around Christmas-time? The boats are all decked out with lights, and there’s a festive Christmas market to explore as well. 

Visit a Local Market

Beaucaire is very much a market town. There’s a colorful food market that springs up each Thursday and Sunday morning on the Place Georges Clemenceau. Here, you’ll find everything from delicious local cheeses and produce to fresh bread, olives and flowers. 

For clothing, household items and textiles, take a whirl at the Cours Gambetta market along the canal, held on Thursday and Sunday morning.

Read related: These Are the World’s 11 Most Enticing Food Markets

During the summer, don’t miss the Beaux Quais de Vendredi, an evening market held along the banks of the Canal in Beaucaire each Friday night through July and August. Arts and craft stands, live musical performances and other festivities take over the canal strip, adding plenty of summery ambience.

Market Day in Tarascon

A lively market in nearby Tarascon. Image: Michelle Loftus/All rights reserved

For a bonus, follow the bridge over the river to the adjacent town of Tarascon which has its own share of treasures to discover, including a vibrant, large open-air market and numerous cafes. 

Visit Two Castles (Overlooking One River)

Beaucaire Castle/Michelle Loftus/All rights reserved

Beaucaire Castle/Michelle Loftus/All rights reserved

Beaucaire and Tarascon each have an impressive castle and ramparts facing one another on their respective sides of the Rhone river. The walk and climb up the hill to Beaucaire’s medieval castle is a treat, with the view becoming more and more impressive as you climb. Free to visit, this impressive site gives you a glimpse of its past grandeur.

Chateau de Tarascon/Wolfgang Staudt/Creative Commons 2.0

Chateau de Tarascon/Wolfgang Staudt/Creative Commons 2.0

The Tarascon castle across the river is extremely well-preserved and is considered one of the grandest examples of a medieval fortress in France. It was built starting in the 15th century by the Dukes of Anjou.  

The Chateau often hosts events such as concerts and performances; ask at the tourist office for current details.

Enjoy Music & Dancing on a Hidden Square

Dancing at Place de la Republique, Beaucaire

Dancing at Place de la Republique/Michelle Loftus/All rights reserved

Find the Place de la République, which the locals call la vieille place (the old square). This is a term which might come up frequently when you’re asking for directions, so don’t be confused by it!

The charming square is surrounded by restaurants and café terraces. On certain evenings there’s free entertainment by local musicians, offering the perfect opportunity for an evening of free dancing.

Taste Locally Made Olives and Olive Oil

Olives and olive oil are a local delicacy, and we recommend you spend some time tasting some of these gourmet specialties. You can notably visit a local olive oil mill at Huiles Robert. Take a tour of the facility and taste the delicious oils! The shop here has many options for gifts to bring back home.

Read related: Where to See Gorgeous Lavender Fields in France

Address: 105 Allée Sergius Respectus, 30300 Beaucaire

Telephone: +33 (0)4 66 74 40 46

See the Abbaye Saint-Roman

Saint-Roman Abbey Beaucaire View

Situated right on the edge of town, this Abbey is a truly exceptional site. Carved into the caves and hillside by hermit monks from as early as the 5th century, it’s absolutely worth the uphill walk. The views alone are spectacular.

Address: Abbaye de Saint-Roman, 4294, route de Saint-Gilles, 30300 Beaucaire

Telephone: +33 (0)7 81 56 44 51

Visit the Pont du Gard Aqueduct 

Pont du Gard Aqueduct, France

The famous Pont du Gard aqueduct is nearby, so if time allows we recommend you see it firsthand. Enjoy this tour de force of Roman architecture and its mythical setting, as well as the onsite museum. For a fabulous evening outing, witness the spectacular son et lumière (a light and music show) that brings the site to life in the summertime.

 

See an Exhibit or Light Show at an Old Quarry

Chateau des Baumes and View

 Also just under half an hour from Beaucaire, take in the superb exhibits and light shows at the old quarry known as the Carrières des lumières. Then enjoy breathtaking views from the Chateau des Baux, a vast ruined castle situated high in the hills at the village of Les-Baux-de-Provence and billed as one of the finest sites in historic France.
Click here to see a full events calendar for the Carrière des lumières.

Accommodations We Recommend in Beaucaire 

Our general recommendation at TLG is almost always to book local holiday rentals and lodgings. Rent a flat, a house, a studio or even a furnished houseboat: in today’s world, this is possible just about anywhere you might choose to travel. 

What better way to experience a destination locally? You’ll be able to bring home local fare from the market, eat on your own schedule, pack a picnic for a day-long outing– all the while treating yourself to a morning or afternoon pause café, to use the French term. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to eat out at every meal. 

Visit one of our favourite sites to find the perfect place to stay in Beaucaire. You can also find accommodation reviews and recommendations at sites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor.

If you do choose to stay in a hotel, be aware that in Beaucaire and in Tarascon most of these offer basic comforts (remember that French 3-star hotels are about equivalent to 2-star counterparts in North America). You can expect good service, but grand luxury isn’t usually on offer here. This may be another good reason to consider self-catering accommodations, at the end of the day!

Where To Eat in Beaucaire?

Restaurant Menu Beaucaire

Beaucaire, like most towns in France, boasts plenty of restaurants serving high-quality fare. We recommend that you simply take a canal-side stroll to make your choice. Daily menus are displayed on traditional chalkboards outside of each establishment.  You can ask the servers to help you translate if you don’t quite understand the options.

In addition to the typically-offered menu— consisting of three and sometimes more courses– there is usually also a daily ‘set menu’ that is more affordable. You can also order a la carte, of course. 

For specific restaurant reviews and suggestions in and around Beaucaire, we recommend that you visit this page. 

 

For More Info: Visit the Tourist Office

In our opinion, the local tourist office should always be one of your first stops– no matter your destination. There’s no better way to find out about local events and activities such as market days, art tours, current exhibitions, concerts and performances, to name just a few.

Interested in a canal cruise with lunch? They’ll have a recommendation. Want to visit an olive oil mill? They’ll set you on the right course.

Getting There: The Beaucaire Tourist Office is located at 8, rue Victor Hugo. You can also visit the official website here for more information ahead of your trip. 

Please leave your comments below if you have any questions about your plans to visit Beaucaire: we’re here to help. Especially since some of the above resources are available in French, you can feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have about your trip.

You can also use our contact form and connect with us on Facebook.

Bon voyage! 

 

 

Staying in a Lighthouse: Is This Your Dream?

Staying in a Lighthouse: Is This Your Dream?

What is it about lighthouses, anyway?

What is it that makes lighthouses so iconic, mysterious and romantic? Why are they such powerful symbols in our culture?  And why is the idea of an overnight stay in a lighthouse such a compelling and enticing one?

There’s no simple answer to that question, of course. Most lighthouses no longer work the way they once did: they’re often unmanned, and some are no longer used at all. They’ve either been automated, or simply aren’t needed anymore, as we now have all manner of satellite and GPS technology.

Is it the bygone era? Is it the romanticism of heroic acts?

Perhaps lighthouses appeal to our romantic and literary sensibilities. Does their wonder come from their ability to snatch men and women from the dark clutches of the sea? After all, there’s nothing like a real or symbolic saving light in the darkness, to stir the soul and the imagination…


The Cordouan, Versailles of the Sea

Lighthouses commonly stand where the meeting points between the land and sea are at their most dangerous and violent: places that threatened humans as they ventured more and more to explore the oceans and colonize new lands. They represent danger in a certain sense– and human victory over that danger. There’s a sense of redemption in the image of a sea-battered old lighthouse sending out beacons of hope to lost seafarers.

Who hasn’t seen dramatic old pictures of Brittany’s great lighthouses – and attempts by the ocean to completely swallow them? These iconic lighthouses in France remain compelling tourist destinations, many situated on the “Finistère” coastline that meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines abound with these stirringly beautiful architectural structures, isolated on their stunning rocky outcrops and peaks. No wonder they inspire artists, photographers and travellers of all kinds to visit and admire them.

Perhaps the queen of these is Cordouan, at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary, near Bordeaux. Also known as the Versailles of the Sea owing to its sheer scope and grandeur, it was built under the reign of King Louis XIV, and is the oldest lighthouse in France.

Ways to Visit the Cordouan Lighthouse

You can visit this iconic French structure by boat – and it’s most definitely worth it! This active lighthouse is also home to an onsite  museum. There are three departure points for the ferry, all within close reach of Bordeaux. This is an adventure that’s perfect for the intrepid experiential traveller. 

Drop us a line below if you would like more information, or Contact Us by clicking this link.

What About Staying Overnight?

Some lighthouses have been retired from ‘active service’, however– luckily for us curious travellers– they’ve been put back into service as rental holiday cottages or bed and breakfast style guesthouses. These are just a few examples of lighthouses where you can stay overnight, all located in the UK and Ireland. There are plenty more, however: sign up for our forthcoming guide below to learn about some of the world’s most magical lighthouses to lodge in. 

 

Would you like to stay in a lighthouse?

Sign up here to find out where!

Pedestrian Travel: The World’s Most-Walkable Cities

Pedestrian Travel: The World’s Most-Walkable Cities

Walking is one of the best ways to get to know a city, because you get to experience the on-the-ground and in-person side of a city center. Faced and interacting with real people, you find places you never would have seen in a bus or car. As a traveler, it’s also far easier to get around cities with good pedestrian areas, since you can forgo renting a car altogether. Walking is free, environmentally friendly, and allows you to really take in the ambience and character of a destination. Read on to take a closer look at some of the world’s most-walkable cities: places you can experience almost wholly by foot!  

Venice

Venice is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world due to its enormous network of pedestrian streets that are totally free of cars. Most of Venice is car-free, and you have to either walk or take a water taxi to get around. Despite its dense infrastructure and the abundance of canals and bridges, the city is beautiful and flat, making for excellent walking.

Read related: The World’s Most Romantic Places For Honeymoons

Copenhagen

Denmark’s capital city has a medieval street grid and plenty to see, and its main street was converted into a pedestrian walkway. As a result, you can get most places in the city without a car, from Rosenberg Castle to the tidy markets in the city center. It’s a beautiful place to experience urban life on the water, and you can always take a water taxi if your feet need a break!

Seattle

America’s Pacific northwest metropolis is a model of North American walkability due to the local government’s regulations on parking spaces and pedestrian infrastructure. The iconic Pike Place Market is a great example of this type of active urban planning, and you can see and do most things on foot or by renting readily available bicycles.

Paris

With its gorgeous riverside quays, narrow little streets and glamorous, old-world boulevards, Paris is certainly one of the most romantic places to aimlessly walk. Whether you go as a couple or solo, spend time just wandering through the centuries-old streets of the world’s most-visited city. You’ll discover things you never would have, otherwise.

Read related: Is Buying the Paris Pass Worth the Expense? 

Houten

One of the most famously anti-car cities in the world is the unassuming Dutch town of Houten. The entire inner urban area of Houten is for bikes and pedestrians only, and the city’s cars are served by an external ring road only. Inside the ring is a network of 80 miles of paths for cyclists and foot traffic. 66% of traffic in Houten is pedestrians and cyclists.

Bordeaux

Southwest France’s UNESCO World Heritage site is a magnificent 18th-century city with one of the best pedestrian walking areas in the world. Pedestrian streets offer clear views of local restaurants and shops on either side of the walkway, and you can get to most places in the city by foot. The Rue Sainte-Catherine, vibrant shopping hub, is said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe and at all times of day these pedestrian hubs are teeming with life and energy. For all these reasons, Bordeaux is a city that walking lovers adore. 

Marrakesh

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Marrakesh is a labyrinth of vendors selling woven goods, spices, and their famous babouches. You can walk from street markets to the historic Koutoubia Mosque and see the ruins of the 16th century El Badi Palace. Marrakech is unique and stunning in its variety and history.

Our Bottom Line? 

These cities are truly modern wonders for their accessibility and ecologically sound infrastructure, not to mention their endlessly fascinating streets. If you enjoy exploring quiet lanes and bustling high streets alike, we recommend adding them to your short-list of destinations– and travel where your feet can take you!