Wednesday, May 05, 2010

ON TO PROVENCE

We leave Cons-Sanite Columbine and head south towards Provence. We have 330 km (200 miles) to travel and we stick to the secondary roads. The freeways here in France are excellent, but expensive to use. We don't mind traveling slow and it allows us to see more of the country. It's slow going navigating the towns and villages the route takes us through. To assist us in finding our way, Alice is with us. Over here she has a English accent and has the assistance of a young French woman who tells us the names of the roads and streets to follow. Alice says, "take the second exit at the roundabout" and then this French woman tells us the name of the road in French. Since I figure together they know more about the roads here than I do, I argue with them less. Anyway I would loose any argument because I am out number 2 to 1.

After about 7 hours we arrive at Venasque, a small hilltop village in the Vaucluse region of Provence, our home for the next six nights.

VENASQUE

You climb the narrow road as it twists and turns up into the village. The road is two way with only enough room for one car at a time.



We enter the village. We are used to signs telling us the height, but here they also tell us the width. So we must do a quick conversion. The height is 9'10", for us not a concern, but the width is 9'2". This would be OK if the streets were one way, but there are not.



LE MAS DU KAIROS


This is our B&B which is run by Josy and Charles Saulnier. We are upstairs, the two windows on the left with the blue shutters. There are other guests here also. Each morning we have breakfast with Mark and his family. He is a businessman from Paris and appears to be in his late 50's. With him is his young wife from Thailand and their two small boys. He is here to oversee the renovation of a vacation home he recently purchased. He has been here for about a month and he tells me that he has no idea when they go home. He says tradesmen the the south of France tell you they can do the job at hand, but then you have to stay on top of them to get them to finish the job. He has been a wealth of information for us, providing ideas on places to go and things to do in the area. He warns us not to leave anything, and he means anything in the car when we are out. He tells us the Arabs have taken over the south and crime is on the rise.


VENASQUE TOWN SQUARE

It's been cold and raining for most of our stay in Provence. Just like we tell visitors in San Diego when it's cloudy in May, we are told we should have been here last week. The weather is unusual for here and has made the news. It hasn't stopped us from exploring though.

SENEANQUE ABBEY
Everyone who visits this area as least drives by the Seneaque Abbey. You may have seen photos of this abbey with the lavender fields around it. Of course we pick a time when the lavender is not in bloom so it looks somewhat plain. We did how ever on the urging of Mark, attend a mass in the chapel. The mass is conducted by the monks and is attended by whomever wants to go. The impressive part of the mass is when the monks sing or chant. The acoustics in the chapel are amazing. There were only 7 monks singing at the mass, but it sounded like 50. It was really something to hear.

ROUSSILLON

GORDES

Both Gordes and Roussillon are hilltop, or perched villages close to where we are staying. They are very touristy but still worth a visit. We went to Gordes in the morning for the town market but in the pouring rain it wasn't a very pleasant experience. The photo was taken later in the day when the sky cleared. It is really a sight to behold from a distance, and when not raining, a great village to explore with it's narrow winding streets. Roussillon nearby is again on a hilltop, but quite different because its buildings are tinted with ochre, mineral in the soil on which the village sits.

PONT DU GARD
A well preserved Roman aqueduct built in 50 AD. Quite impressive as it spans the river. The site was crowded with school children. We also paid a visit to a Roman Coliseum in Nimes. We were told this arena is the best preserved in the world. They us the arena today for bullfights and concerts. Stevie Wonder will preform next month.
Each day takes us to different locations in this area of Provence, where we explore towns and villages. We also explore menus of the local restaurants. Sometimes it is a guessing game as to what's on the menu. We eat our main meal at midday and it is always adventure trying to figure out what is being offered. We are trying to be adventurous in our selection but at times you stick to what you know. Cathie as an example ordered red and green bell pepper salad with olives and tomatoes. Everything was going according to plan until she discovered, too late I might add, that the salad also contained anchovies. But, hey, it's not called Gassaways Adventures for nothing.










1 comment:

oldantarcticexplorer said...

What a great blog! This is on our itinerary for next June, you've confirmed it's what I'd hoped it would be. Keep up the good work