St. Remy and the Provence Region, France
Van Gogh territory, miles and miles of sunflowers.
Day 16: The drinking goblins having captured me the night before, I woke with a serious hangover this morning. I thought nourishment would help so had breakfast, and later decided this was not necessarily a wise idea because I started feeling quite motion sick once we got on the bus. Santos didn't look happy either (although I don't think he had breakfast). Looking quite green to anyone who bothered to notice, I lay back, psychologically curled into a ball, and tried to sleep the trip away. We were going to have a potluck lunch at some village on Market day.
Eventually Susan found me after noticing I didn't volunteer to buy anything for the lunch. So she asked if I could help finding miscellaneous stuff. "Okay, okay." Now go away please. Cheerful people sometimes hurt.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue. A waterwheel-filled village with a bustling morning market. When the bus stopped I started feeling a little human again. In any case, now I had a mission. I joined the rest of the "miscellaneous" group, and after perusing the stalls, we bought some seasoned olives and truffle pate. Not knowing the French word for olives proved not to be a problem - simply point and pay.
Lunch, on one of the town's canals, turned out really good (and the truffle pate went over well, I must add), and the weather was awesome though very windy; but I did not eat as much as usual, and definitely no wine for me. After lunch and a walk around town, I felt almost normal again.
Anyway, on to the heart of the Provence region and St. Remy. We arrived in St. Remy at about 3pm amidst an encore of cicadas and, after check-in at the hotel [Hotel Villa Glanum] just outside of town, I took a 1 hour nap (I had a single room again). After that, I explored the local Roman ruins (and the arch next-door), which were quite extensive. Others went a-swimming in the pool at the hotel.
I met the group at 5:30 for a trip to Les Baux, a city on the top of a huge chunk of granite with a sweeping view of the vineyards below. Sparse castle ruins and medieval weapons - they even had a trebuchet, the world renowned siege weapon. The wind almost blew us away, and it was so strong it was often difficult to walk. We had dinner at a restaurant in Les Baux with huge windows admiring the view from on high. I had the duck, and yes, two glasses of wine which Susan paid for. I must remember to sit near guides in the future. We walked back to the bus as the moon rose in the evening sky.
To bed once we got back to St. Remy. No more heavy drinking for me.
Day 17: To Arles (pronounced Aarrll! - like a pirate) after breakfast. On the way we passed huge fields of sunflowers, and we felt a little like Mr. Van Gogh probably did. Marsha tried at least 6 times to get a proper picture of the buoyant flowers. I hope she was successful. [Note the picture above is not proper because the flowers are facing away from the bus, but I bet you didn't notice.]
The bus dropped us off at the TI, and then we got a short walking tour through the Place du Forum (Van Gogh hangout) and by the St. Trophime Church (the details on which were amazing), ending at another Roman Arena used now for bullfights. We then had a few hours free, so I walked the Arena, went inside the church and cloisters, wandered near descriptive fountains, and toured a museum on the Roman recoveries and history of Arles (and bumped into Susan there). I imagined myself back in Roman times when Arles had a circus (chariot racecourse) larger than 10 football fields.
[Panorama of the Arena in Arles, big enough for 20,000 - click for a bigger version]
For lunch I had a hamburger and fries inside of a baguette that I bought from a park side stand where the woman there commented that for someone who speaks English my French was quite good. Six years of grade-school French classes finally paying off! I ate my "burgerette" in a park next to the old Roman Theater, relaxing at a bench near a fountain. We re-grouped in the early afternoon.
To Pont du Gard, a large Roman aqueduct. An extremely good, modern, thorough museum on the Roman way of building things started it off. Then the Pont itself, huge and hot, with sunbathers below. It was 97 degrees out and blazing sunshine. I walked around and to the top looking for a good photo spot. Don found me leaning against the shady side of the Pont near the top [where I took this picture] and said, "Why am I not surprised - to find Bob walk UP!"
Back to St. Remy for anise and lemon liqueurs (hosted by Lisa) by the pool at the hotel. I preferred the anise myself, although I have to admit the concept of drinking licorice horrified me at first.
11 of us went together to a pizza place in St. Remy for dinner. We got gelati afterwards and strolled up the street to the local square with a 19th century church. I then continued walking around the town to try to find the 4 gates (It turns out only 2 still exist), running into the Nostradamus fountain (not worth a side trip) on the way. I hiked the path back to the hotel as the sun went down, challenging the darting swallows to keep the mosquitoes away. ...and they did.
To bed with the sounds of cicadas.
Click the pictures for enlargements.
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Last updated 11/12/2005 . Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.