Barge Connection Blog

The Beauty and Freedom of Camargue

b2ap3_thumbnail_Wildwhitehorsescamargue.jpgCamargue is a small region in the south of France, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the two forks of the Rhone River. The region, once home to Cistercian and Benedictine monks, is largely agricultural to the north. However, the southern part of the region holds some of the most untouched and pristine land in western Europe.

Fun facts about Camargue

Not familiar with Camargue? Don't worry. We have a slew of fun facts for you to get acquainted with the area.

  • The Camargue region is western Europe's largest river delta.
  • Approximately one-third of Camargue is made up of lakes or marsh land.
  • Much of western Europe's industrial salt is mined in this area.
  • Camargue's unique landscape has intrigued script writers and novelists for years, and the region is featured in such diverse works as the children's film, "The White Mane" and C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novel, "A Ship of the Line."
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Behind the Bubbly in Limoux France

b2ap3_thumbnail_SparklingWineLimoux.jpgLimoux is located on the Aude River in south-central France, just south of the walled city of Carcassonne, Limoux is a pretty little town with a mixture of ancient, Medieval and modern architecture. Home to around 10,000 residents, Limoux is best known for the wines produced in the area as well as the winter carnival.

A little about wine and Limoux

Limoux residents (and many wine historians) maintain that the region surrounding the city was the first to produce sparkling wine, well before Dom Perignon discovered the process in the Champagne region. One version of the story even has Fr. Perignon stealing the secret of the process during a visit to the region, but that is considered less likely by most historians. The primary grape grown in the Limoux wine region is Mauzac, a late-ripening white wine grape with a slight apple flavor that pretty much only thrives in this one small section of France. Mauzac is the primary (and required) ingredient in the area's sparkling wine, "Blanquette de Limoux." To make this wine, winemakers blend the juice of the Mauzac grape with that of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes. However, Mauzac grapes must, by law, constitute at least 90 percent of the wine's volume. In addition to the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux, the Limoux AOC (the government-designed growing region) crafts a number of still, white wines using the Mauzac grape as well as some notable Merlot wines.

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A Castle In The Making

b2ap3_thumbnail_Castle.jpgDid you ever wonder how those French medieval castles were built? How did they get the materials to those remote areas? How did they achieve those magnificent results and where did they find the craftsmen? A group of builders and historians is seeking to answer those questions by constructing a new castle in the forests of Burgundy using 13th century methods and materials. The result is Guedelon Castle.

About Guedelon Castle

Begun in 1997 and expected to be finished in 2025, Guedelon is a new castle, constructed using only the engineering, tools and raw materials available during the Middle Ages. Stones and other materials are brought to the site via horse-drawn carts, not trucks, and hoisted into place via pulleys, not cranes. There are no power tools on the site, nor are there mobile phones. Measurements are made with knotted ropes instead of electronic instruments. Even the workers' dress and food mimic the 13th century.

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Van Gogh in Provence

b2ap3_thumbnail_Van-Gogh-Cafe-in-Arles.jpgVincent Van Gogh, whose works command multi-million-dollar prices more than 100 years after his death, found creative inspiration in the vibrant colors and friendly atmosphere of Provence. He created more than 300 of his paintings there, including many of his most famous canvases. Visitors can still see the towns where he spent the more than two years he lived in Provence as well as visit his final resting place. However, it's the natural beauty of this region that makes it easier to understand and appreciate Van Gogh's work. The sunflowers, poppies, wheat fields, and sunlight of this area have changed little since Van Gogh's time. 


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Symbols of Provence

On a recent trip to Provence, in the south of France, I started noticing bees etched and embossed on everyday items like drinking glasses, tablecloths, cutlery, stationery and even buildings. Once I started paying attention to them, I found them everywhere, sort of like the "hidden Mickeys" at Walt Disney World. This got me wondering about the meaning behind this bee symbol as well as other symbols commonly found throughout France.

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