Lizards & Flowers – A nostalgic Tour de France, 21.-27.05.2023

Back in 2003, we fell in love with the scenic landscapes and the solitude of the southern France hillsides. During that time, we had our first encounters with “exotic” species like Psammodromus edwarsianus – our personal initiation to herpetology – and we developed our enthusiasm for orchids. Twenty years later, we decided to re-visit some of these places. Actually, some of them have changed completely but some have preserved their beauty and still are rewarding habitats – for flowers and also for reptiles.



Heading south, we had some stop overs in the Côte-d'Or area and eastern Ardèche. When, we visited the Corbières area and on our way back we had a couple of days in the Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses /Aveyron. Although we only had a couple of days, we did a laid-back trip enjoying French Savoir Vivre in the rural countryside. Here’s what we found.


Only 4,5 hours from our home, the vineyards of Côte-d'Or give a first intuition of the south, like a promise, with its dry slopes and limestone cliffs. A quite positive surprise and a great teaser for more to come…

Eastern Ardèche

We only stayed one night at the western edge of the busy Rhône valley and spent the next morning to visit the local Lizards close to Alba-la-Romaine.


The Corbières area is characterized by huge contrasts: On the one hand, the busy coastal places in the Perpignan surroundings which may be attractive for beach tourists but semi-optimal for naturalists. But as soon as you leave the coast, you will experience dreamy hillsides and silent valleys. Iconic landscapes like in the famous Provence – but by far less touristic. And this contrast corresponds to a sharp climate divide: The Mediterranean coast suffers from severe drought but the mountains are strongly influenced by Atlantic climate with humid forests and green meadows. We are still in love with these forgotten places.

Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses

The Grands Causses is a high altitude plateau with cold winters and hot summers where central European and Mediterranean species can be encountered at the same site. Its heathlands are famous for its orchid flora which had attracted us back in 2007. And the locations we had been exploring those days still delivered. Another great destination which actually deserved more than our two days stay: We only got a rather superficial impression of this amazing region. Lessons learned: We will hopefully come back and spend more time – for the lizards and the orchids…