You'll be close to wonderful hiking trails in the
    Cévennes mountains.
   Only an hour away, the 2000-year-old aqueduct --
    le Pont du Gard -- is worth a visit.

ISABEL HUGGAN is well acquainted with the area, having settled permanently here in 1998.  Her home, surrounded by vineyards, is in the foothills of the Cévennes mountains (a beautifully forested area designated a National Park, there are nevertheless villages and towns within its boundaries), and she can supply advice and information (maps, guidebooks) should you wish to explore the surrounding countryside.  If you want to combine travel with your working holiday, you will need a car, as there is little public transport. It is possible to rent a bicycle in Anduze, but be warned that even the main roads are fairly narrow and without bike paths.

There are fine hiking trails in the mountains, where you can climb to the top of Mt. Aigoual (1565 metres) or Mt. Lozère (1700 metres), and if you choose, follow the path of Robert Louis Stevenson, who took 12 days to walk 220 kilometres through the Cévennes in 1879 and then wrote Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, a book that continues to bring tourists to this area to walk in his footsteps… Or you might explore charming medieval villages such as Sauve and Durfort (5 or 10 minutes away from Tornac), and shop in the morning markets in nearby towns such as Anduze and Uzès.  Not far from Uzès, you can stroll across a 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard. The vibrant, historically rich cities of Nîmes and Montpellier are both less than an hour away from Tornac, and a trip down to the seaside takes only another half hour. There, you can visit a bird-watchers’ paradise – the marshes of the Camargue -- or the walled town of Aigues-Mortes from where King Louis IX led the Crusades, or the equally fascinating  Stes. Maries-de-la-Mer, where the black statue of Sainte Sara is the focus of a festival every May.

Tornac is not a “village” in the usual sense, but a “commune”, made up of a collection of farms, houses and hamlets, and there is no centre other than the Mairie (town hall), and post office. The narrow country roads around Tornac are pleasant for walking, or bicycling, and the ambiance is decidedly rural.

In Anduze, only 7 kilometres from Tornac, there are a number of cafes and restaurants, and an English teashop, Tea Potes, which features a used bookshop and various cultural events, such as readings and concerts.

Le Mas Blanc is a retreat for individual writers. If you wish to be part of a larger group,  you might look at the website for GARDOUSSEL, a beautiful old Mas further up in the Cevennes at St. Andre de Valborgne, which offers group accommodation and workshops in poetry and prose, as well as yoga. See www.gardoussel.com.