On this photo, you can admire the hotel de ville in Alès
Warm sunny days will get you in the mood to discover charming villages and cities in the French "Midi", and so we set course on revisiting Uzès. This beautiful historic town is already well known by us, and we were therefore tempted "en route" to change our destination to Alès, a town we had never really visited before.
There are indeed quite a few places of interest in Alès, but before we went to visit them we took a luncheon in the city centre, at the restaurant "Le Ricochet", which sported a fine terrace in the soothing shade of the "platane" trees.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Bread, a caraffe of cold water, peanuts, all offered as free accompaniement at "Le Ricochet"...
"Le Ricochet" is a bustling restaurant catering mainly for the local inhabitants and city dwellers, with a typical French, well balanced and varied menu card.
In this kind of establishment, it is always very judicious to throw a keen eye on the "plat du jour" which is usually included into the "mainstream" menu. This time, the "plat du jour" consisted of a skewer with fine, tender beef, and we decided to have a go for this. The whole menu, with starter, main course and dessert, set us back only 13,5 Euros, so understandably, we were not expecting the greatest of culinary delights. But surprised we were...
We ordered a pichet of 50 cl of rosé house wine, which proved pleasant and entertaining, costing us only 6 euros, and which could match many others in taste and character.
The lady of the house brought us a large "caraffe" of water, and a glass of ice cubes, all at no extra cost. As if this were not enough, she also offered us free a large cup of not too salted peanuts, so we could use part of the rosé as an "apéritif". Together with a small linen basked filled with delicious fresh bread.
The starter - see photo above - consisted of a varied and crisp salad with slices of cavaillon, "provençale" salad of tomatoes, avocado and gourgette, combined with an exquisite "tarte maison". There was also a crisp roasted bread covered with delicious tapenade. The plate even included refined accents like a touch of balsamico and raspberry flavoured "crème fraîche".
The skewer or "brochette" of tender beef proved indeed to be tender and tasty, even when baked "au point" as we prefer it most of the time. It was accompanied by baked patatoes, deliciously brought to flavour with thyme, and fine layers of tomatoes and aubergines.
A generous dessert was also included in the menu, and we were surprised to be treated to a massive cup of "Coupe Cévenole", which consists of vanilla icecream topped with "crème fraîche" and chestnut cream.
After all these culinary pleasures, we were all set to discover interesting Alès, which treats its visitor with a magnificent cathedral, actually the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
It is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France, already being restored to its former glory outside, but still awaiting major restoration and repairs for its interior.
Nevertheless, we were able, thanks to the excellent low light performance of our Fujifilm X-10, to capture most of its internal grace and beauty, as the accompanying photos show.
Alès was formerly a centre of the Huguenots and was taken after a long siege by Louis XIII in 1627. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Alès was established here in 1694, at which time the construction of the cathedral began. After the French revolution, the cathedral was not restored, and as said, for the time being only the exterior has been restored in two phases since 2012.
In the neighbourhood of this cathedral is not only the hotel de ville, but also a magnificent "Jardin du Bosquet" which ends in a majestic FortVauban.
This Citadelle d’Ales was built in 1688 just after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. It had a double role: serve as barracks for a “garnison and as a prison. The building is now in the process of being restored. It has not been built by Vauban, but carries its typical architecture. We let you all enjoy the photos here, and conclude by giving you here the details of the pleasant restaurant we visited in Alès, which offered formidable value for money, considering the quality of food served.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Restaurant "Le Ricochet", 12 Boulevard Louis Blanc, 30100 Alès, tel 00 33 (0) 4 66 24 38 31