Le Gard: why the southern French region is becoming a hotspot for foodies

Julie Delahaye

France's famous food and wine regions such Bordeaux and Burgundy have long been drawing in tourists, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's Château Miraval put the country's southern region under the spotlight when they married there in 2014. We decided to explore the less travelled region of Le Gard in Provence to discover exactly what it has to offer, and we, too, fell in love....

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Endless rolling hills of vineyards form the majority of Le Gard's landscape

Discover Le Gard's impressive wine collection

Nestled in the rolling green hills with the light sea breeze coming in from the coast are some of Le Gard's best wineries. It's not just about wine tasting or visiting the vineyards – these wineries each have their own unique twist that make for an unforgettable experience.

If you're looking to learn more about the world of wine, head to Chateau L'Ermitage which has wines dating back to the 1800s, as well as historical artefacts from owner Jerome's family history to show how to navigate through the changing industry. As a bonus, go for a drive in the open-top truck for a fun way to visit the miles of vineyards stretching out along the landscape.

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Tour the scenery at Chateau L'Ermitage in an open-top truck

Those wishing to explore the region on foot should head to Chateau Mourgues du Gres, where the grounds include impressive trails tailored to everyone from the keen historian to the nature enthusiast. Take a guided tour or simply grab a picnic basket and wander through the luscious landscape, packed with colourful flowers and local wildlife.

Take a trip back to the Roman times

Everywhere you turn in Le Gard, there's a nod to its rich Roman history. The team at Winery Mas des Tourelle, located in Beaucaire, have reconstructed a full-scale Gallo Roman wine cellar in perfect working order – and if you come during the harvest, you can take a glimpse into the ancient methods as locals re-enact the process, complete with costumes.

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Take a step back into Roman history with a visit to Mas des Tourelles

A short drive away lies the village of Chusclan, which once a year hosts a Vendanges de L'Histoire festival to celebrate the end of the harvest. Dressed in traditional clothing, people from all over the region flock to the party for wine-tasting, exhibition, artisanal crafts and local cuisine, and even a demonstration of how they harvested grapes in the olden days.

Enjoy a peaceful break in the heart of the French countryside

For a glimpse into French provincial life, the charming Domaine des Clos offers a wide range of activities from cookery lessons with a local chef to wine tasting courses held by an oenologist. Boasting nine unique rooms and four hectares of luscious gardens including a swimming pool and barbecue huts, it's ideal for a family break.

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A view from one of the rooms at the Domaine des Clos onto the courtyard

Meanwhile the La Bégude Saint-Pierre offers total peace and quiet in the heart of the region's rolling hills – and foodies will definitely want to try the restaurant's delicious menu filled with some of Le Gard's famous dishes, and of course a wide range of local wines.

Taste the famed French cuisine in the city of Nîmes

For a fine-dining experience unlike any other head to Chef Vincent Croizard's eponymous restaurant, where Vincent has created innovative, delicious dishes, mixing contemporary cuisine with traditional recipes. The dining room is hidden away behind a wooden door in a side street in the city, making the experience magical from beginning to end, in a peaceful and intimate setting.

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Experience unique fine dining at Vincent Croizard's restaurant

If you're taking a day trip to the city, make sure you stop by the Ciel de Nîmes. Make the most of the sunny weather by sitting out on the large terrace which overlooks the impressive Maison Carrée, while enjoying the local dishes available – and make sure to try one of their delicious desserts.

Take in the sights

It's not just the countryside, food and wine that will sweep you off your feet – the area is packed with incredible sights, such as the impressive Pont du Gard to Nîmes' huge amphitheatre and luscious Jardins de la Fontaine.

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pont du Gard is a must-see

The surrounding villages also have their unique charms. Saint Gilles boasts a beautiful abbey, which is listed as a UNESCO Heritage site, and a Romanesque museum, a stunning house full of natural history artefacts. Meanwhile, the village Saint-Laurent-Des-Arbes lies nearby on a hill with awe-inspiring views of the landscape and a particularly impressive medieval tower standing in the centre.

If you're after something off the beaten track, visit La Chartreuse de Valbonne, a large monastery-turned-asylum-turned hotel, where you can take a sneak peek into ancient monks' lodgings and stop by the beautiful chapel.

For more information head to tourismegard.com

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