Carla and David's Trip to Provence

From Paris we took the TGV south to Provence. We arrived at the TGV station outside of Avignon where we met Philip and Sarah who had arrived the previous day. We picked up the rental car and drove several hours into the Luberon section of Provence.


We were staying just outside of a town named Grambois. It is a cute little hill town with great little alleys down which to walk. We were entertained by its emblem, the palm tree. The closest town of any size is Pertuis to which daily trips were made to the "hypermarket" known as the "Hyper-U".


Among the first things we saw in Grambois were charming stone buildings lining the square, with shutters painted classic Provencal blue.


David standing on the winding road up to the old part of Grambois. with a view in the background of the surrounding countryside.


Here, we see some clouds over Grambois as the sun sets behind us.


A grain silo near the house in which we stayed.


The flower of Provence is lavender. Postcards show giant fields of it throughout Provence. The lavender was apparently harvested already by the time we arrived. This poor little plant outside our house was under attack by some sort of white snail. Pretty much anything that didn't move for a few hours was covered by these things, though.

La Tour d'Aigues


The closest town with even a newspaper was La Tour d'Aigues. It also has a cute little market one morning each week. After a while, David has gotten his fill of the market.



The star of our trip to Provence was our nephew Felix, of course. After a long day of sightseeing, we find Felix back at the house sending postcards to his friends.


Here we find Felix and his mom exploring the charming hilltown of Bonnieux. Felix lost his kazoo in the grate in the background, and his dad Philip spent several minutes trying to recover it with a stick. By the time of this picture, though, Felix had forgotten it and moved on to bigger and better adventures. (More on Bonnieux later. First, we continue with the Felix show!)


After exploring all morning, even Felix needs his sleep. Here we find him on his father's shoulder in the little town of Ansouis. This is at a lovely Tea house that would serve us lunch after 2pm which was quite generous of them.



Ansouis is another small hill town with an old castle and church. Here we see the bell tower behind a rose bush.



Arles has great Roman remains. The arena is still in great condition (despite having been used as a fortress in less safe times, as well as a mini-town of its own containing over 200 residences! Later, it was cannibalized as a source of stone for other buildings in Arles, and its top level was completely removed. Today, bull fights are conducted in the arena. (See also this more verbose link). Modern seating can be seen in the bottom left of the photo.


Here's another view of the arena. There is also a Roman ampitheatre in town. However, when we walked by a rather unpleasant rock band was warming up in the ampitheatre. We kept walking.


Outside the arena, the Rhone flows through Arles.


The door on the church in Arles. The tiny figures above the door tell the story of Judgment Day: on the left, they line up waiting for their meeting with God. If they pass, they ascend to heaven as angels rising above the doorway. If they fail, they march on to hell on the right side, with tiny stone flames licking at their feet.


A detail of the facade, which, because of its ornateness, no one believed was as old as the guidebook said it was: 12th century.


montm_carla montm_david

A medevial abbey that was partially destroyed during the religious wars but has been partly rebuilt. Here we see Carla and David standing amongst the ruins. The holes in the ground next to David had a macabre function - a body was placed inside, covered, and left to decay, so that the bones could be placed in the abbey's crypt.


A doorway back into the abbey.


Inside the abbey's cloister, we found an interesting and hungry gargoyle.



A view from the top of Bonnieux, another beautiful hill town in Provence.


An old cypress tree sitting atop Bonnieux.



A typical summer's morning in Provence starts with a trip to the outdoor market. Cucuron had a lovely market layed out along the town pond / water hole. After exploring the market we explored the town which has both a mostly destroyed church and castle as well as a relatively old functioning church. Here we see the town from beside the old tower.


All that remains of the old church in Cucuron.



Forcalquier has a beautiful chapel at the top of the hill upon which it sits.


Walking back down from the chapel we spot a beautiful door.


The countryside around Forcalquier.

Pont Julien


On the way to Apt, on the D149 highway, we crossed the Pont Julien, a Roman bridge, built in the first century, which is now in use as road bridge!


Another look at the central arch of the Pont Julien


Carla sitting on one of the supports.


rouss_cliff rouss_rocks

The hills surrounding Roussillon are composed of beautiful red and yellow soil which was mined to produce colors for paints and clays and many other uses. We took a walk through the park on the edge of town.


The town itself is also quite lovely.


Many buildings in Roussillon are painted in the traditional colors of Provence.

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