"Anduze" Anduze by JLBG
Anduze Travel Guide: 43 reviews and 48 photos
Anduze is sometimes called ''door to the Cévennes''. It is also a deeply rooted Protestant (Calvinist) town. After the revocation of the ''Édit de Nantes'' that made again protestantism illegal in France, it was the entrance to the ''Vallée des Camisards''. The ''Camisards'' were those Protestants that fought against the king of France on behalf of their faith. You should visit in the 'Musée du Désert at Mas Soubeyran which reminds all these struggles, when the protestant Camisards had to celebrate the forbidden offices in the desert (ie far in the mountain, where the king's roughneck soldiers, that came from other parts of France and did not know the country, could not reach easily.
Though Anduze is a small town, its ''temple'' (name used in France for protestant churches) is one of the largest in France. The style is very strict.
One visit not to miss is the Bambouseraie de Prafrance (click on the link). For more than a century, it has been growing giant bamboos and is the largest in Europe.
The name of Prafrance has nothing to do with France ! It is coming from ''Pra Fran'', which means ''tax free place'' and is coming from centuries ago. This is unfortunately not true anymore.
The estate has an area of 34 ha, is 11 km away from Alès and 2 km from Anduze. The soil is made of modern (quaternary) alluvial deposits coming from the Gardon river. The Gardon is a Mediterranean river and has a very unpredictable flow. On some occasions, the estate can be completely flooded by the Gardon. In November 2002, the whole estate was under 2m of water for several days. On other occasions, the drought can be very severe.
Eugene MAZEL was a wholesale dealer that brought spices directly from the Far East, which made him extremely wealthy. His job leaded him to import various unknown or little known plants from these far away countries. In 1855, he bought the Prafrance estate in order to realize his dream, to create a ''bamboosery'' (at that time, the name of bambouseraie did not exist and was coined later). The local conditions seemed to fit well with the needs of bamboos : very deep alluvial soil, mild microclimate. Only water was a problem. Mazel decided to collect the water upstream from the Gardon and to install an extensive irrigation system on the estate (5 km of channels). Then all the conditions were reunited for the development of bamboos. Mazel succeeded in introducing not only bamboos but also other exotic plants and trees such as Sequoias from California.
More than fifty gardeners were necessary to keep the estate in good condition. Mazel built several greenhouses, which remain today witnesses of end of the XIXth century iron architecture (Eiffel tower). All these expenses brought Mazel to bankruptcy in 1890. An agronomy engineer, Maurice NÈGRE, bought the estate and tried to save Mazel's dream. He succeeded and his son continued the job. In 1958, a major flood hit the estate and destroyed much of it. The Bambouseraie might have then disappeared. But the NÈGRE family saved it a second time. Now, Muriel, the granddaughter of Maurice NÈGRE and her husband, Yves CROUZET, an engineer in horticulture, run the estate.
The estate receives thousands of visitors every year (up to 4000 per day) and is now well known worldwide.
Washingtonia filifera bears flowers and fruits are bright yellow. They add a touch of color on the greenish tone of the... more travel advice
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