Road Trip: Working a Stick Shift Through the South of France and Spain
A summer drive along the seaside (Photo: Corbis Images)
The plan: Some “Thelma and Louise” time in Europe — with my mom and dad (minus the Grand Canyon finale). Now you may ask, what prompts someone to take a road trip overseas with her parents? Well, as my father has so aptly said to me throughout my life, “Everyone’s gotta be somewhere” … so the simple answer is “Why not!” Besides, as anyone close to me will tell you, my parents are a ton of fun.
The route: West from St. Tropez on France’s Côte d’Azur to Biarritz and a quick border hop to northern Spain’s premier beach town, San Sebastián. Then a backtrack east before heading south to the Pyrenees and through the micro-country of Andorra, and onward to our final destination, that Catalan beauty, Barcelona.
The ride: Mercedes station wagon, with a stick shift, naturellement.
The 994-mile route — piece of cake (Illustration: Google Maps)
Our first stop was Uzès, a town rich with Gallo-Roman history, a three-hour drive west from St. Tropez (and for you geography aficionados, a two-hour drive directly south of Lyon). Here, it’s all about the UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that stands as one of France’s top attractions. Part of the 31-mile-long Nîmes aqueduct, Pont du Gard was built to carry water from Uzès to Nîmes. It’s awe-inspiring to stand under the bridge and grasp the size of it (164 feet tall, with the longest of its three levels spanning just over 900 feet). It’s also fun to join the kids jumping off nearby cliffs into the River Gard below.
The ancient and impressive Pont du Gard in Uzès (Photo: Winston Mcleod/Flickr)