|Copied from the website of the 48 regional natural parks in France|
Our friends from Costa Rica, who mingled their foot prints with ours across the sun baked garrigue of the South of France for a scant couple of weeks, have a personal and professional interest in the regional nature parks of this area. France is quite the leader in regionally administered parks for the preservation of patrimony. Regional nature parks are a unique manifestation* of geological, geographic, economic and cultural expression, thus representing the most important aspects typical for any given area. They teach and preserve a unique regional heritage for future generations and tourists, of course. Many French people love to learn, when they travel. They will participate in workshops, lectures and guided tours, eager to absorb details about ‘terroir et histoire’, the local customs past and present. And our friends are just like that! Since they have past connections to the US park system, as well as these French regional parks, a visit to the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses with its headquarters, or ‘maison de parc’ in Millau, département d’Aveyron, région Midi-Pyrénées, was a given. My humble contribution to this excursion, was the previously reported visit to the absolutely magnificently superior viaduct. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware that one of my travel companions has a very uneasy relationship with bridges, especially with a car driving over a bridge, a very tall one at that … (for my not-so-slightly-vertigo-ed friend: I’m sorry, I didn’t know!!!)
After the scary viaduct crossing, we had a relaxing visit on level ground with the manager of the maison de park, collecting brochures and informational material. Madame also recommended the teashop ‘Zest’ for lunch and we soon set off toward it, enjoying the sights on route.
|my husband has his own street!|
(*Ever since we were guests at a French journalist’s home in Aquitaine almost seven years ago, I’ve loved the term ‘une manifestation‘. It occupies a firm position in French narrative of any kind. For me, it’s a synonym for ‘French’! A manifestation can be an event, a show, a demonstration, a cause, a declaration, a feeling, a conviction and so much more)
|in case you need to tie up your horse|
|le viaduc looming over Millau|
After lunch and a restorative constitutional through Millau’s old town center with its towering belfry, we continued our drive toward the Larzac plateau of the Grands Causses. We left Millau just a few minutes after 14h or 2PM, escaping without a parking ticket. In most French communities curb parking in the business or central sectors is free during the sacred two hours lunch period starting at noon and we just made it.
|bye bye Millau|
Our next destination was Couvertoirade. Look it up!