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Chapter 1: We Leave for France
Chapter 10: Looking for Mr. Goodstone
Chapter 11: A mission to la Clape
Chapter 12: Dinner at Château de Lignan
Chapter 13: Antiques and plunder
Chapter 14: The vintner next door
Chapter 15: The rooftops of Nézignan-l'Évêque
Chapter 2: Comes the crusade
Chapter 3: The 13 colonies
Chapter 4: Our curtains are dreadful
Chapter 5: Naked beaches
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Chapter 7: A pilgrimage to Toulouse
Chapter 8: Remembering Collioure
Chapter 9: The priest and the mayor
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A Day Trip Itinerary...print this out   print the content item
The breathtaking Cirque de Navacelles
No photo does Navacelles justice, because no photo prepares you for the ENORMITY of this unique geological formation. Guaranteed: you WILL gasp when you first look over the edge. (If you're terrified of heights, the drive down into the canyon could test your limits.) The village of Navacelles at the bottom has plenty of free parking and a lovely bar/hotel/restaurant (no credit cards accepted, though, "for technological reasons"). Time to destination: 1.5 hours.
From the house in Valros, take the N9 toward Pézenas. Stay on the N9 through Clermont-l'Hérault. There the N9 widens to become the A75-E11, a major highway. Stay on the N9-E11 through Lodève. Just outside Lodève, turn right onto the D25. You will see a sign for Cirque de Navacelles.The D25 climbs up through some stirring canyons and pine woods. You'll pass pretty places to picnic. This is national forest land. About an hour into your trip you'll crest onto a rocky plateau that looks like the high plains of Montana. At St. Maurice-Navacelles, a tiny town with a bar/restaurant, turn left onto D130. You'll drive through lanes of shaved privet and soon be on the lip of the cirque. A few hundred yards before you begin the descent, there's a snack bar/restaurant that offers a splendid view.
Beware: the road into the cirque is a bit narrow at the very top, so blow your horn before going around blind turns. But the road quickly widens. Hikers: the GR7, a marked footpath, climbs both sides of the canyon. It's easy to pick up at the very bottom, beside the river. Look for red and white blazes. One leg of the trail starts conveniently next to the bar/hotel/restaurant, where refreshments are served on a shaded outdoor patio. The trail toward Blandas is an old wagon road, relatively gentle and wide.
Want to stay overnight in dramatic Navacelles? (Of course you do!) L'Ammonite is a charming bed and breakfast (dinner, too, if you'd like) started by a Dutch couple who wanted to get away from it all. Their website comes in four languages, including English: http://www.chambresammonite.com/
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