Home

 Books, Film & Music

 Travel 

 Food & Wine

Gallery

Armchair Uzès

Family & Friends

Sports

Welcome to Armchair France

 

Armchair Uzès

la Vie Quotidienne

le 22 avril 2002
Uzès, France

A slice of history at the Oppidum near Gaujac
Une tranche d'histoire à l'Oppidum

Just outside the village of Gaujac, up the road from Uzès near Bagnols-sur-Cèze, you'll find the Oppidum, a collection of  vestiges of pre-Roman and Roman habitation. This partially restored site, including the remains of a temple, a well, baths, and  fortifications, is clustered high on a hilltop overlooking the valleys of the Tave, Veyre, Cèze and Rhône rivers. The road leading up to the site is a bit rough for vehicles but you can walk it in less than a half hour. With no guard, no gate, and no entry fee, you step easily into a fabulous piece of history in the midst of the rural landscape. Plantings of irises, euphorbia, and cotton-flower bring vivid spring color to a scene that gives a true sense of how people lived many centuries ago.
     The origins of the site are probably from 500BC, with evidence of a good-sized settlement around 425 BC. The Romans moved in in 40BC and added their own temples, baths and improvements. They remained there until the 5th century AD when the site was abandoned concurrent with of the fall of the Empire and the increasing threat of invaders from the North. The reconstruction work shows clearly how structures were arranged, and exploring the paths that lead to and from the preserved portion of the site reveal even more ruins not yet restored. The Oppidum (along with the Camp de César in nearby Laudun) is a testament to the impact of ancient and Roman settlement in this region. An archeological treasure and a great place to picnic, hike, and experience a slice of history…and the views are incredible in all directions. Be sure to bring water as the midday sun shines fiercely here.

 

Oppid8.jpg (73916 bytes)

The Roman baths at Oppidum (above)
and a carefully preserved well.

OppidWell.jpg (135780 bytes)

 

Manif2.jpg (67502 bytes)

In Uzès, students took to the streets the day after election to express their views.
"France...Shame"

Manif7.jpg (112147 bytes)

Manif10.jpg (80399 bytes)

"Down with the Front National
F is for fascist, N is for nazi!"

 

French elections: Round 1, a huge shock!
Le présidentielle: 1e tour, le choc!

First round of the French presidential elections has brought shock, shame, and renewed political commitment to the French electorate. During a ho-hum campaign season, focused primarily on getting two unsatisfactory candidates, current president Jacques Chirac (the right) and current prime minister Lionel Jospin (the left), to the second round for the final battle, the voters of France proved themselves not quite up to that task.
     Factor 1: a nearly 30% abstention rate, the highest since the 1960s, caused by a combination of good weather, school vacations, and a general apathy toward the leading candidates. Factor 2: those who did vote assumed that the second round would be between Chirac and Jospin, so they used this first round to make a sort of “protest” vote for one of the more obscure of the 16 candidates who were in the race. Factor 3: the general malaise around the country (and across Europe) about increased violence, insecurity, and uncertain economic conditions, a malaise that has not been effectively addressed by either Chirac or Jospin.
     Result: Jacques Chirac took the highest percentage of votes at 19%, Jean-Marie LePen, the extreme right candidate came in a close second with 17%, and Lionel Jospin, the lackluster socialist candidate, trailed third with 16%. Right-wing LePen is calling for “France for the French,” against the euro and the European Union, with the implication being that anyone not of “true” French origin should leave or be sent away. Hints of the 1930s in Europe…
     Response by le peuple to these first round results has been swift and vocal, with a series of demonstrations (manifestations) across the country expressing outrage and urging people to get out and vote in the upcoming May 5th second round … and to vote for Chirac. Act of desperation? Maybe. Just a few weeks ago Chirac was branded "le super-menteur" (super-liar) because of his shady dealings while mayor of Paris, but now a vote for le super-menteur is a vote against le super-fasciste, Le Pen. Et voilà!
     Consensus is that Chirac will win, hands down. But the lesson isn't yet over. The legislative elections in June will bring out the left in force, most likely ushering in another era of what the French call “cohabitation,” with a President from the right and a Prime Minister and Legislature from the left, causing stalemate in governance. Little if anything will happen, perhaps leaving the French in the same boat they’ve been in for the past five years. On va voir. (We’ll see.)

More photos of the manifestation in Uzès...

 

The pleasures of the "Cubie"
Les plaisirs du "cubie", le vin en VRAC

The first time we saw it, we didn't quite know how to react. We were leaning against the counter at a cave cooperative in the south of France, tasting the surprisingly good local product. A fifty-ish man bustled in, his arms struggling to control three or four large plastic jugs. He dropped them down, off to the side of the tasting area, next to a contraption with four hoses coming out of it. Lots of pleasant familiarity ensued between the man and the cave lady who had poured us our tasting glasses. She grabbed a nozzle and started filling the man's jugs with red liquid. When they were full, the man piled them onto a small trolley, paid, and pushed the trolley out to his car to load. What was this?
     Since that day we have become big fans of the "cubie", occasionally called a
"jerrycan". There may be more wine sold and consumed in France by this method than by any other. It's cheap, delicious, and probably the best way to buy your everyday wine. This won't be vintage stuff, mind you. But it will be fresh, lively, honest product, which can be astonishingly good if you follow a few simple rules.
     You can buy "cubies" at hardware stores, supermarkets and many wineries.  They range in size from 2.5 liters to 20 liters (Dare you to try to lift that one when it's full!) There are two types of caps for cubies: a plain cap allowing closure, and a cap with a built in robinet, or spout. We recommend the latter, for reasons of pouring. Our favorite size is five liters. It's not too heavy when full, but it yields seven standard sized 750mm bottles. That's sometimes enough to get us through the week.
     Look for caves coopératives. They all sell wine in bulk. And look for signs at private domains saying that they sell "en vrac", which means "in bulk". A domaine promising sales "au détail" means that they sell their wine by the bottle or case, but not necessarily en vrac. Some AOCs discourage bulk sales. Châteauneuf du Pape is an example. Spoils the image to be selling the wine in bulk, ruins the marketing plan. Fewer BMWs for the winemakers.
     Normally you'll find four hoses from the bulk tanks: one for white wine, one for rose, and two for red, often identified only by their respective 11 per cent and 12 per cent alcohol levels. But ask for tastes (une dégustation), then decide for yourself.
     White and rose wines bought en cubie can be stored indefinitely in the refrigerator. There may be some eventual deterioration if you keep it too long. A couple of months is a good rule of thumb. You may also find some sediment has settled to the bottom after a while. Red wine is another story. It won't keep its fresh, lively taste for more than a week in the cubie. It will start turning sour. Solution: bottle it! It's simple. Save seven wine bottles (for a five-liter cubie) and buy a top with a spout. Also buy a bag of corks, widely available. Wash out the wine bottles with just plain water, no soap. When you bring home your cubie full of red wine, pour it into the bottles (a funnel helps here) and cork them by hand as tightly as possible. This way the wine will last for a few weeks rather than for a few days. When you go to simple gatherings at the homes of French friends, what red wine is most likely to be served? A cubie-full of the local! 'Nuff said.

 

caveaucelleneuve.jpg (36893 bytes)

Head to your local cave cooperative...

CaveStMarc.jpg (33888 bytes)

where wine is sold en vrac
"by the cubie"

Cubie1.jpg (62304 bytes)

...just walk on in and say "Fill 'er up!"

 

 

 


Final standings
of the
2002 Six Nations Tournament
______________________

                                          W  -   L

          France                   5  -  0

          England                4  -  1

          Ireland                  3  -  2

          Scotland              2  -  3

          Wales                    2  -  3

          Italy                       0  -  6

Allez les bleus!
Bien fait en 2002!

French Rugby Team: Best in the World?
France 44 Ireland 5
Grand Chelem for France!

Before a roaring crowd of 80,000 at the Stade Français in the Paris suburb of St-Denis, the French National Rugby team demolished Ireland 44-5, thus sweeping all five of its games in the Six Nations tournament and earning the coveted "Grand Slam". A confident Irish team left most of its game behind in newspaper quotes and ended up with a thrashing on the field. France was totally dominant from start to finish.
     We won't know who is really the best team in the world until a year and a half from now, when the 2003 World Cup is decided in Australia. But, for the time being, France can make a strong case for itself. In the autumn of 2001 France traveled to the southern hemisphere and swept its three game series against South Africa, Fiji, and Australia, the defending World Cup champ. This winter and spring France swept the Six Nations tournament against England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, making it eight wins in a row against most of the world's best. So who is entitled to call itself the world's best, if not France? Happily, the coach and team have refrained from so stating, leaving it to sportswriting hacks like us…
     It's a long way from here to the end of the World Cup tournament. Yet France seems to have put together a nice combination of size, speed, experience and youth, which augurs well for its future prospects. Allez les bleus! Bien fait en 2002!

 

Want to see previous editions of Armchair Uzès? Click here for a directory...
For the Armchair Photo Gallery, click here...

 

Home

 Books, Film & Music

 Travel 

 Food & Wine

Gallery

Armchair Uzès

Family & Friends

Sports

Email us your news and comments:  info@armchairfrance.com



© 2000- 2007 by Armchair France.  All rights reserved.  Not to be reproduced without permission from authors.