Hopping along the Provence region of France, I have been drawn in by the allure, landscape, storefronts and food. I’m going to share an over-generalization of the French people, as described by one of our city guides. “Americans are like Labrador Retrievers, anxious to please, make sure you’re comfortable, offer-up anything you may have forgotten. The French on the other hand, are more like cats: you are fortunate to be in their presence, somewhat mysterious, snub you if you’ve left something behind. Neither is wrong or right – just different. That is exactly what I love about travel – learning our differences. Vive la différence!
What I noticed first in the region was all the lavender. There is lavender everything around here. Even the clouds shouted a hue of lavender!
And every shop keep had a selection of things lavender.
And, in case you were wondering if they had just plain old lavender, the answer is yes – bushels of it.
Would you believe the city crane was…. you guessed it, LAVENDER.
Moving along here…
What drew us to Avignon was the Palace of the Popes – I mean, we are the Popes after all. Woody suggested a discount was in order. The ticket agent was amused by the idea, but could only giggle at the notion. For about 70 years the Popes pontificated from France, behind huge fortress walls, and 10 foot thick, castle-like rooms. This vast space – over 100,000 square feet – is completely vacant. Even the frescoed walls have been mostly vandalized, sliced-off, stolen, and sold. However, extremely creative sorts came up with the idea of a Histopad. With this iPad-like device we were transported back in time. Sound effects and all, empty spaces came alive with color and detail of what it may have looked like in the 14th century. You swing the Histopad around, and it’s like virtual reality goggles.
What drew us to Arles was the magic beauty of light, rumored to be found in this town. The dancing light lured painters such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso.
We took a walk with Van Gogh, and with the help of easels placed around the city, were able to visualize his world.
I had hoped to capture some images with the magic light, but was not quite as successful as I had hoped. I settled with play of light and some night scenes.
Nice during the off-season is graceful, relaxing and pleasant. I’m fairly sure it’d feel like a hustling tourist town in spring and summer. When we were here in 1985 – this statue was not:
He was banned by some “virtue society” because they thought his “package” was too exaggerated. And they call us Puritans!? (Here’s an entertaining blog about it: Greek God Can’t Get Respect.) ANY WAYS… we had spent most of our time on the beach and hiking Castle Hill. This time, we are still on the beach and hiking Castle Hill,
but we have the money now to go on a couple tours, feed the invisible man, eat better food, and take a ton more photos because I don’t have to pay for developing it!
We have just 9 days left of this tour…!