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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Conques - A Medieval Wonderland

Conques was one of my favorite stops on our recent trip, it's a medieval wonderland that makes you feel you've fallen back in time to this hidden village. The physical situation is glorious, built above the river in a secluded valley, the village is surrounded by green hills that tower over  it. 
 Everywhere in town you see quaint signs like this one for a gite, below.
 Walking around the town you get a sense for the medieval period with the close proximity of the half timbered buildings and the narrow cobbled pathways.
 Conques remains a major center for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and there is  a strong spiritual presence in the town.
 I loved all the architectural details, the shutters, the terraces, balconies and the slate roofs.
 We stopped for a drink on the terrace below. The wisteria was at it's height, fragrant and magical it could not have been more beautiful.
 As you can see it was just as lovely from the street below. The entire town shone in the sunshine.
No wonder Conques is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. It's a gorgeous place, beautifully situated and highly recommended. I'll be talking about the cathedral in a seperate post.