After a two hour drive from Vaison-la-Romaine, we finally arrived in Marseilles.  All we had time for was a bite to eat before the weekend was nearly over.  So, we headed straight to the Vieux-Port (Old Port) to check out the culinary skills of its inhabitants.

After walking around for a bit in search of something non-touristy, we settled on a tourist restaurant located just behind the waterfront.  Sadly, I can’t recommend it.  But, walking around this historic area more than made up for any shortcomings in the restaurant’s “famous” Bouillabaisse.

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After driving down the monumental Mont Ventoux, or “The Giant of Provence”, we took a short detour to Vaison-la-Romaine.

Split into two sections, the lower part of the city resembles a modern day provincial town.  But above in the hills lies the remains of a Roman town, built to defend against attacks during medieval times.  At the top of the hill lies the ruins of an old castle.

But, its not all ruins. Many people still live there to this day.  In fact, wandering around the streets here made me feel like an intruder of some kind, like I was walking through somebody’s medieval backyard.  Walking all the way to the top was hard going, but, finding the exit to this hilltop labyrinth was nearly just as hard…

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At 10am we hit the road again on our way to Mont Ventoux.  But first, we had to get there.  After winding through such provincial towns as Carpentras and Bedouin, we arrived at the foot of the mountain.  From Malaucène it was a 25km drive to the top.

But there was little time to enjoy the view as cars and caravans began racing each other to the top.  I was starting to get an understanding of why there were so many cars around these parts with dented side panels and scraped bumpers.

However as we got started, it was clear that cars weren’t the only thing we had to contend with.  On our way to the top, we must have crossed well over 300 cyclists as they pushed their pedals up some very steep grades.  On more than one occasion we could see the pain in their faces as they eventually admitted defeat and dismounted their steeds, and began the humiliating walk/push to the top.

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Frogs legs, Chicken, Cognac and Garlaban after dinner followed by two lumps of ice-cream.

After a long day on the road, Avignon served up the classics at the foot of the Palais du Papes.

But, as the sun set over the rooftops, I was starting to resent my status as “designated driver.”

However, there is always day three, and based on the rest of my party’s behaviour, it was definitely a good thing to abstain…

A selection of pictures to enjoy…

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After our foray into the markets of Provence, our next stop was the aqueduct bridge of Pont du Gard, located approximately 20km from Avignon.

The Pont du Gard was built by the Romans in the first century CE as part of a 50km long aqueduct that runs between Uzès and Nîmes.  In 1985 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Pont du Gard crosses the Gard River, which is located within the Gard département of France.  Including its longest tributary, the Gard river is 133kms long.

Whilst it was a hot day, some decided to escape the heat by submerging fully-clothed into the river’s cool water….

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Our weekend in Provence continues with a trip to Uzès, located 35kms west of Avignon.  We had heard that the Saturday markets were popular, but we weren’t quite prepared for what was to come.  The main street of Uzès was packed.  Not just with cars mind you, but with people who must have come in from miles and miles around to poke through the seemingly endless supply of Provincial produce.  From local cheese to hand-made soap and from leg ham to fig-encrusted nougat, this place had it all.  All one had to do was wander the streets and kick out a bit of high-school French and you were good to go…

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Sleep!  Hooray!  Does it feel better to go to sleep when tired, or to wake up refreshed the  next morning?

We moved into Avignon for breakfast.  Refreshed, I could enjoy it for the first time.  Avignon is a walled city and without turning this into a history lesson, was once home to numerous popes.  Apparently, there used to be two popes, and one of them lived here in the Palais de Papes.  But, with food on our minds, all we had time for was…well…food.  Nevertheless, I managed to grab a few shots of the city as we strolled about.  Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find a take-away coffee. Perhaps not the “done thing” in Province?

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A Weekend in Provence: Day 1

September 6, 2010

Friday morning started like any other…

No, wait it didn’t.  I got up at 3am so that I could catch a “low-fare” flight from Eindhoven to Marseilles in the heart of the French region known only as Provence.  Whilst a weekend in Provence could never be a bad thing, getting there by submitting to the gods of budgeting wasn’t.  Hence, from our starting point near Amsterdam Zuid, we…

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Louis’ Tiny Kingdom

July 14, 2010

Fake-tilt shift image at the Palace at Versailles

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Galeries Lafayette

June 8, 2010

…and beyond, the sky.