All in all, the trip was more than we ever hoped. When the original bicycle tour was cancelled,
we were not sure if we could design a trip that would equal the expectations of the initial one.
Thanks to Judith’s long hours of research and meticulous pre-trip planning,
as well as some fortunate impromptu decisions on the trip, it was a great success.
Click on the map below to see a larger version of where we were
The trains in the area as well as tour guides were decorated with the logo below
Click on the logo below to see a larger version
Of course there are always those minor problems out of our control (More later). It was
a pretty big challenge to get from place to place by public transportation but we
wanted to experiment. Renting a car would have allowed us to see more places.
Tuesday September 13, 2005 - Nice
Ou est l'autobus? Where's the bus?
We arrived at the Nice airport at 9:00 A.M. Judith was determined to utilize
public transportation as much as possible so we bussed to the hotel.
After checking in (our room was actually ready) we showered, changed
clothes and headed out to explore the city of Nice.
We spent the entire day walking on the Promenade along the beach,
exploring the narrow streets of the older part of town (Vieux Nice), and
mingling with the residents and tourists in the pedestrian zoned shopping area.
Dinner was the first of many at a great couscous restaurant. We ended up eating
vegetarian (legumes) couscous and a great wine three times before leaving Nice.
After dinner, we walked along the Mediterranean again to take in the night
scene and experience the flavor of the Cote D'Azur. We especially enjoyed
the waterfall at the end of the beach, above town, with special lighting.
Wednesday September 14, 2005 - Nice
Judith, just put that last pain au chocolat in your pack and let's go!
Early morning we boarded the train to Eze-Bord-de-Mer. From there
we hiked up a steep, rocky trail to the medieval hilltop Eze-le-Village.
Today as in years past, Eze is an art colony.
We explored every passageway as we admired the works
of various artists, and enjoyed the views of the Mediterranean Sea.
We also enjoyed a tour of the Fragonard Perfume Factory.
It's amazing that almost everything is done by hand.
We rode the bus back from Eze to Nice. It was quite an experience
riding down that road. The driver even pointed out various sights of interest.
Thursday September 15, 2005 - Nice
These water bottles are heavy, could you carry my pack, too?
Again, the Provence-Alpes-Cote D'Azur train transported us
to our destination. This time it was to the ancient village of Antibes.
Both Nice and Antibes were founded by Greek traders in the 5th century B.C.
First stop was the harbor. Locals claim this is Europe's biggest yacht harbor
with 1600 stalls. Every type of boat and Yacht imaginable was parked in the harbor.
Even not being boat enthusiasts, we thoroughly enjoyed looking at the diversity
in styles, colors, and sizes of all of the boats and ships.
It was market day in Antibes and we wandered through the old city
sampling the foods and mingling with all of the people.
It was very crowded but it makes shopping more exciting for us.
We started the hike at the Plage de la Garoupe (plage means beach).
There were sunbathers as far as the eye could see around the cove.
A well maintained stone walkway leads to a rocky trail along the spectacular coast.
We passed below exclusive mansions and explored smaller coves and tidepools.
We spent the entire day exploring the Cap D'Antibes and finally
made our way back along streets which ended at the harbor.
The express train returned us quickly to Nice Ville.
From the train station we walked to Eglise Russe (the Russian Church)
and followed a circuitous route back to the hotel. After dinner,
we again walked around Old Nice and back along the Promenade.
Friday September 16, 2005 - Nice
It was a dark and cloudy day, but no rain.
This was our last day in Nice and we were determined to see as much of it as we could.
We spent twelve hours walking around Nice Ville, Vieux Nice, and Baie des Anges.
That is, the main city, Old Nice, and the Bay of Angels.
We climbed up to Castle Hill, played in the waterfall, toured the park,
and looked out over the city and down the blue coast (Cote D'Azur).
We had a great time in Nice but we were ready to move on to Provence.
Saturday September 17, 2005 - Avignon
All aboard! Cannes, St. Tropez, Toulon, Cassis, Marseilles, and Avignon!
We boarded the early morning train (TGV) to Avignon (in Provence).
The scenery goes by pretty fast but it's definitely worth looking out the window.
Each of the beach towns is so different as is the topography,
from sandy beaches to rocky coasts to hills with villages and chateaux.
Our lodging for the night was the Villa Agape. Yes we were spoiled.
The villa was right in the center of the old walled city of Avignon.
Of course the first thing we did was run out to the Pont D'Avignon,
the bridge of nursery rhyme fame. Judith sang the song.
The other tourists joined in and we felt very French.
The main square where everyone gathered was a stone's throw from our villa.
It was a great people-watching place. Along those lines we will mention people-talking.
The great thing about staying in bed-and-breakfast places, private villas,
and small hotels is getting to know the people - both proprietors and guests.
We learned a lot about the daily lives of Provencal people as well as
a lot about the customs and history of the different places.
We also met a few interesting tourists as we traveled.
Back to the day's agenda, we visited the Palace of the Popes and tried to walk
down every street and see every sight in the old section of Avignon.
It was very windy while we were there, and overcast with short periods
of sunshine. The clouds were mostly directly overhead so the sun
shone on the buildings when it was low in the sky.
This actually made for some dramatic photos.
Ever challenged for vegetarian meals, we decided on fondue for dinner.
We are always amazed at the difference between the exterior and interior
of restaurants. Bistros and cafes flaunt their open air and street presence.
But restaurants are very often more of an adventure. At the fondue restaurant,
the hostess led us down into rooms that were almost caves ,filled
with the wonderful textiles and pottery in the exclusive patterns of Provence.
The walk back to our room wasn't long enough to burn off those calories.
The server kept bringing more vegetables until we finished the cheese.
This was the first of our non-dessert nights.
Sunday September 18, 2005 - Isle Sur La Sorgue
Water, water everywhere and quite a bit to drink.
The fresh spring water of the Sorgue River is crystal clear and has provided
nourishment for crops and power for industries for centuries.
Judith arranged our itinerary around events in the places we planned to visit.
Isle Sur La Sorgue is famous for its market on Sunday. So here we are!
The local area bus (quite fancy and brand new) transported us to L'Isle.
The town - literally "Island on the Sorgue River" - is sometimes called
"The Venice of Provence". Water wheels used to dominate the landscape
when this was Provence's cloth-dyeing and textile center.
The market extends along the river as well as through the town.
We spent the day here watching the people and the goings on.
Products that didn't sell well were put on sale near the end of the market hours.
Unfortunately, if you wanted the good stuff, you needed to purchase it early in the morning.
We ended up missing out on some things we looked at because of our ignorance.
Upon return to Avignon, we crossed the new bridge to the Ile de la Barthelasse
and walked along the island's shore on the Rhone River to view Avignon at night.
We snapped a lot of photos as the sun set and lit up the city.
We returned to the old town and wandered for the rest of the evening.
As with all of our favorite cities of the world, nighttime brings
out a whole new atmosphere with lights, people and action.
Ah...romance fills the air!
Monday September 19, 2005 - Pont De Gard and Nimes
Judith, could you please check the temperature in the soaking pool, please?
Staying in Madame Pommeraye’s villa in Avignon was fantastic and enlightening.
Madame (Michelle) speaks many languages very fluently.
She really gave us a lot of insight to the history of Avignon and the area
as well as her restoration of the villa and her own life. Our room was wonderful
as was the breakfast on different Provencal dinnerware each day.
Following breakfast and another tour of Avignon, we headed out on the bus
to the Pont De Gard. Actually it was just the local bus but it got us close enough.
After doing the tourist stuff and walking across the bridge, we hiked
up a fairly rugged trail to the top of a hill overlooking the Pont De Gard.
We should have stopped there but Judith said, "I wonder where the rest of the trail goes."
I never learn. I willingly followed her until we were both sure
we might never see the bridge again. We did manage to retrace our tracks.
We then walked up and down the river to get some more photos before
realizing that we were about to miss the bus to Nimes.
We literally RAN with our backpacks to the bus stop only to find out
we were at the wrong bus stop. Fortunately, we discovered it just in time
and ran to the right place just as the bus was about to leave.
Nimes was interesting but after seeing the Pantheon and Amphitheatre in Rome,
the Maison Carree temple and the Nimes arena were not as impressive.
We did enjoy walking around the city, and the arena had quite a view.
The train was our vehicle of choice for the return leg to Avignon.
A great Italian restaurant just around the corner from our villa
served us one of the most enjoyable dinners on our trip.
Tuesday September 20, 2005 - Vaison La Romaine
Unpack the bags and toss those return tickets to California.
I'm not leaving here!
We both agreed that Vaison La Romaine was the highlight of our trip.
Absolutely everything about our stay in Vaison was incredible.
Every waking moment here was somewhere between enjoyable and breathtaking.
The town greeted us with extensive Roman ruins that looked like a mini-Pompei.
Two thousand years ago about 6000 people populated Vaison La Romaine
and the population today is still the same.
Just after the Puymin and La Villasse ruins is the lower town (Ville-Basse),
we meandered along the pedestrian-only Grand Rue, a lively shopping street.
We forgot to mention that we did this entire three week trip with only one
piece of carry-on luggage. It was great to be able to pull it along on wheels
as we wandered through towns and take it on the bus with no problem.
At the end of the lower town we crossed the 2000 year old Roman bridge
across the Ouveze River and headed up the hill to Ville-Haute (the upper town).
On cobbled lanes past ancient fountains we strolled to our lodging.
Aude and Jean-Loup Verdier greeted us and showed us to our room at L'Eveche.
The view from every window was magnificent. In addition, there was a staircase to
a second level with a solarium and a balcony. We had the best room in the place!
After freshening up, we meandered through the narrow avenues
and hiked up to the castle for a view of the surrounding area.
Mont Ventoux loomed high on the horizon and beckoned.
The next three nights we ate dinner at a charming restaurant in the upper town.
Each evening the familiar waiter showed us to the table with the most excellent
view of the lower town and outlying hills with their mesmerizing lights.
We couldn't find anything on the menu that was not scrumptious.
Wednesday September 21, 2005 - Vaison La Romaine hike
Jean-Loup thinks we should do one of these loops.
Do you think we should stop at the mountaineering store and get better maps?
The unanimous decision of the other guests and the owners of the villa,
all avid hikers, was that Judith and I should hike to Le Crestet.
The trail starts right outside the front door and we can take various loops back.
We were armed with a map (not the greatest one) that did show most major trails.
The Dentelles de Montmirial mountains are laced with exciting trails
and many people are drawn there just for the hiking.
This is our kind of place - we are experienced hikers. Bring it on.
Can you sense that something is about to happen to burst that bubble of confidence?
The hike to Le Crestet was very pleasant. We passed through vineyards,
experienced a variety of landscapes, and arrived at the hilltop village in
record time. After walking around the steep, cobbled streets, and
discovering quaint homes and buildings, we decided to head toward
Malaucene. It should be easy enough - just head toward Mont Ventoux!
We felt confident that we could figure out the trail markers and
find our way across the mountains to our destination.
"Oh Jude, this is a weird junction. There are six different trails that
appear to cross here and the map doesn't show anything like that."
"Well, it looks like this tree has a red line above the yellow line
while this other tree has a yellow line above the red line."
"And these other two trails have matching red and yellow lines.
But I think this is where we switch to the trail markers that show
a red line inside of a larger white line. And I have no idea what kind of trail
is marked with a blue line. Uh oh, look down that road.
There are even more trails or roads going somewhere."
"Okay, it's decision time. I think we are at this junction on the map
and we should follow the red line surrounded by white."
"You know, Jude, the guests that did this hike yesterday had very sturdy
hiking boots, and did not appear to be novices, but I find it hard to believe
they would have followed a trail quite this difficult. These are very steep climbs
and descents of loose and slippery rock. Furthermore, we've been hiking for hours
without seeing any landmarks, or even getting up high enough to look around.
I think we need to get up to a ridge and see where we are."
And Judith said:
"Okay let's look at a map. According to my pedometer we've hiked about 12 km
since Crestet. So we could be out here if we chose this trail by accident, or
we could be anywhere in this area if we took one of these trails.
Or the trail we've been following is too small to be on this map."
"Maybe next time we should buy a real trail map instead of this free tourist one."
And Fred said:
"You know, there's not a lot of daylight left, and I'm almost out of water.
We need to get up high enough to see where we are but we have to stay on trails.
Let's just follow paths that go up. If there's a junction we choose the uphill one."
"Look, we are almost at the top of this ridge!" And there's signposts!
Well, the good news is we aren't lost anymore, and that was an exhilarating climb.
Scrambling up the steep ridge of this mountain was invigorating.
The bad news is that we went in a 12 km circle. There's Le Crestet.
And there's Mont Ventoux out there, and it's still 6 km to Malaucene.
The views at the top were awesome, and we wished we could hike here a lot more.
We reflected on the varying terrain of the hike we had done today,
with streams, thick forests, wildflowers, rock faces, rock trails and vineyards.
It was remarkable but we now needed to shift into high gear and race to Malaucene.
We arrived with a half hour to spare before the last bus to Vaison La Romaine.
In the town of Malaucene we stumbled across a bike store that rented bikes
for bicyclists interested in climbing Mont Ventoux.
Whoa, Judith,what are you thinking.
We just did a 22 km hike of some difficulty - let's rest.
And the Bike shop owner said, "We also have a store in Vaison La Romaine
that rents brand new Trek bikes and opens early in the morning."
"Judith, why are you holding that Mont Ventoux bike jersey in your hand?"
"Well, I really need a sleeveless jersey, and we'll need these Mont Ventoux
water bottles. What will you be wearing, Fred?"
Thursday September 22, 2005 - Mont Ventoux bike ride
It's morning in Vaison La Romaine, the sun is shining bright, and Mont Ventoux
is calling us. We're off to the bike shop (Mag 2 Roues).
The mechanic double-checked the bikes and fitted us properly.
We have our backpacks full of extra clothing and goodies and we're off.
Of course, not planning to ride bikes over here, we brought absolutely no
bicycle accessories. We felt a little uncomfortable without gloves and helmets.
Fortunately the Trek bicycles handled very well and felt very similar to our own.
Once on the bikes, we both realized that we really miss them, and it's too bad
the original bicycle tour was cancelled. This is really fun!
After a warmup ride in the valley, we headed up the mountain.
Being unprepared, we did not know which direction the Tour De France took
for the assault on this mountain, but the popular route in the area was from Malaucene.
We later found out that we rode the north route and the tour takes the south route.
It's interesting to superimpose the graphs of the two climbs.
The north route is a higher average percentage of grade but the south route
is considered more difficult. That's because the south route starts out at a gentle grade
that gets steeper in the middle and persists to the top.
The north route has steeper sections but also sections that flatten out
to at least allow some recovery for the bicyclists.
The other difference is that the south route (from Bedoin) allows you
to see the top ( a miserable sight) from the very bottom!
The north route from Malaucene is dramatically scenic from bottom to top.
We were very happy we accidentally chose the north route.
Either way, this is a rewarding climb.
Starting from Malaucene, the grade was mild for a short distance but
the road then climbed steeply in a series of bends through a high rock face.
At about 1900 feet the road begins winding through a forest with
intermittent panoramas toward the south.
At about 3000 feet, the road finally turns to yield a panorama toward the north.
We just can't say enough about the spectacular vistas.
Because Mont Ventoux (the giant) sits by itself (not part of a mountain range)
you can look down the mountain all the way to the bottom
and out across the landscape forever.
And there are places that if you get off your bike
and look over the edge, it borders on scary.
Mont Ventoux is considered the "Giant" of Provence not only because of its size,
but also its location. It is isolated from the rest of the Alps and in all directions
there are no higher peaks.
Mont Ventoux can be seen almost anywhere in Provence.
Of course, the top portion is basically the same north or south.
The landscape becomes barren stone, and today (as the case is often)
the top was shrouded in clouds.
It was a rather cold at the top. We talked to some other cyclists,
bought some souvenirs, and headed back down.
I should also mention that the descent to Malaucene was phenomenal.
The road is very well maintained and quite fast.
It was somewhat of a letdown to have to return the bikes.
This was an extraordinary bicycliing day, and neither of us wanted it to end.
Back at our room, we reflected, put the day behind us and headed out to dinner.
After a short stroll, we packed it in for the day.
Friday September 23, 2005 - Arles
Time to shop! We spent the morning searching through every store in Avignon
that carried authentic articles made in Provence.
We think we may have enough souvenirs to be converted into
all of the presents needed for family and friends.
It's time for the bus to Arles.
After a leisurely walk through town, we checked into our small hotel.
Our room was off of the garden and very nice.
Next we hit the streets. we came very close to uncovering
every lane and avenue in Arles. As we investigated each location
where Vincent Van Gogh painted a scene, we tried to imagine
what Arles might have been like at that time.
We pondered Starry night as we walked along the Rhone.
We spent quite a while at the Cafe La Nuit (In English, Cafe at Night)
and the hospital that treated his self-inflicted ear wound,
which is now a cultural center. They have restored the beautiful gardens.
Evening brought quite a surprise. As we were enjoying a nice meal,
all of the doors in the restaurant were quickly shut,
and the patrons at outside tables were rushed inside.
The mosquitos were invading - millions!
It's not usual for this time of the year, but the little guys decided
to come up from the Camargue and seek fresh blood.
The Maitre D' offered everyone bug repellent,
so we covered our skin with spray as everyone swatted.
Just a little extra protein in our crepes.
Saturday September 24, 2005 - Arles
Nice day for a walk. I wonder what Vincent would have done on Saturday morning?
There were no plans for today. Originally we hoped that there might be
a performance at the arena, possibly involving bulls and toreadors,
but we were between shows. The next one was in two weeks.
Then we overheard someone talking about the market.
It was market day in Arles. Well, let's check it out.
Although we thoroughly enjoyed the markets of Nice and
Isle Sur la Sorgue (which were supposed to be the best and
we had planned to be there on their specific market days),
our accidental arrival at the Arles market was a fantastic discovery.
We have never seen so many spices,
vegetables, fruits, cheese, candies, and other food products in one place.
The food vendor booths had to stretch out over a mile. In addition, there were
booths with art, clothing, fabrics, dinnerware, tools, Provence souvenirs, and
various other items. We spent more than four hours at this market!
So, having killed half the day in Arles already,
we decided to stay in town and just hang out.
One of our favorite places to do that was the Place De La Republique,
our square of choice. We listened to a great singer (street performer),
watched four different weddings, and just people watched
for the rest of the day.
Sunday September 25, 2005 - Saint Remy
The whole town is barricaded! What's happening?
Getting to Saint Remy by bus looked to be way too difficult,
so we gave in and hired a taxi to transport us to our next destination.
Because of the BIG celebration, we were rerouted around town,
but accidentally found the hotel along the way.
So when we checked in at Le Mas des Carassins, a lovely
chateau just outside of Saint Remy.
And I said, "So what's the big celebration going on in town?'
And Pierre said, "Oh it's the running of the bulls."
Running of the bulls? Yes, dumb Fred was in the streets of St. Remy
when the bulls were set loose. Was his participation ever in doubt?
After the parade and bull run, we scrutinized the entire celebration.
Then on the way back to our hotel, we noticed a large number of people
departing town with blankets, stadium seats and jackets.
So I asked, "La ou etes vous allant?"
They answered, "Pour voir les taureaux"
I said,"Les Taureaux,the bulls?"
It turns they were all headed to the arena to see the bullfights.
Well count us in. Bring on les taureaux.
The bulls always win at the arena. They are even billed more boldly
than their human foes in the posters. Each bull has a ribbon (cocarde) above its forehead
laced between its horns. The bullfighter (razoteur) has fifteen minutes
to snare the ribbon. Local businessmen encourage the razoteurs by yelling out
how much money they'll pay for the cocarde.
If the bull pulls a good stunt, the band plays the famous Toreador song from Carmen.
The following day, the newspaper reports how many "Carmens" the bull earned.
Each successive “fight” pits the razoteurs against more experienced
and more dangerous bulls.
We had a great time although we didn't stay until the end.
We had reservations for dinner at the hotel and needed to get ready.
Dinner at Le Mas des Carassins was exciting to say the least.
It began with thunder, lightning, a torrential downpour, and the lights
going out. The candles were lit quickly, and a romantic evening was launched.
We agreed when we made reservations that we would try to eat fish,
so this would be our one planned non-vegetarian meal.
It was a good choice. The appetizer was radishes with anchovy paste.
Whoa, that shocked our systems! Next was a scrumptious tomato puff pastry.
The second entree combined various fish, steamed with vegetables in foil,
mashed potatoes and Provencal tomatoes.
Dessert was an apricot tart with Sabayon and
cassis sorbet in a raspberry coulis.
Although we manage to get by with the French language,
it's always a challenge to order wine. What works in one area fails in another.
We had one of those questionable times instructing Pierre.
The wine was superb. It was certainly the best we've had in a long time.
I was afraid to see the bill when we checked out.
When we did check out two days later, I found I needlessly worried.
It was just one of those magnificent local wines of the region.
Monday September 26, 2005 - hike to Les Baux
Will I die from anaphylactic shock! Where's the Benadryl?
We also refer to this as the "hike from hell."
The overnight rain brought Kazillions of mosquitoes.
None of the guests wanted to leave the comfortable shelter of the chateau.
No one except Judith, of course.
We were going to hike to the hilltop town of Les Baux and that was that.
But it's such a short taxi ride. What say I meet you there?
I should have snapped the photo of her look.
We swatted until our arms hurt from the exercise,
and then we swatted more. Our lack of photos of this hike were solely
because neither of us wanted to be eaten alive taking a photo.
Okay, I have pictures, but I'll only expose you to one.
This is Fred's right arm. The rest of the pictures are rated R for violence.
The hike was fun. We started from the chateau and headed toward the trailhead.
We stopped at the Glanum site to check out the 2000 year old Roman Ruins first.
A well preserved Arch which originally marked the entry into Glanum still stands tall.
Also a tower that is a memorial to the grandsons of Emperor Ceasar Augustus.
The trail was very scenic and a little difficult.
Judith especially enjoyed the climb down a stone wall to the lake.
Parts of the wall had footholds carved into it, and one section
contained iron pieces that comprised a ladder.
At the lake we were attacked by super gazillions of mosquitoes.
We made some pretty good time from there up to the ridge
where they at least thinned out a little.
That may even have been the fastest climbing we've ever done.
We finally arrived at Les Baux.
The town was a little touristy, but the ancient fortress at the very top
was incredible. We wandered around the ruins for hours.
Many of the ancient walls of the castle still stand and climbing them is fun,
and the views are sensational. The sun-bleached ruins
are carved into, out of, and on top of a massive rock.
The castle originally occupied more than 17 acres.
After returning (yea, we hiked) to the hotel, we went into town
and enjoyed a relaxing meal at an Italian restaurant.
Tuesday September 27, 2005 - La Ferme
Where the heck is La Ferme De La Huppe?
Well, I think you take D156 to D60 to D169 to D102 and Chemin something...
Today might be labeled "Communication failure."
The only bus out of Saint Remy (at noon) never came.
The public transits were still being rerouted around town and we didn't know it.
So we called a taxi and asked if he could take us to La Ferme de la Huppe.
Oh sure, no problem.
No problem turned out to be quite a search before we were deposited at La Ferme.
The driver even deducted 10% because he was so lost,
despite our telling him he was making wrong turns.
Well, this place really was in the middle of nowhere.
And we waved goodbye to him.
Check-in was our next alarm. It turns out we didn't have reservations.
Judith thought we did, but actually their email
said they would consider our application.
We were in the middle of nowhere without a paddle.
But, as it turns out, there was a cancellation and the most expensive room
is available for the two days we needed it.
Sign us up, please.
It was interesting that a car pulled up moments later looking for a room,
only to be turned away. There are only ten rooms and they are sought after.
Then we dropped more bombshells – we were vegetarians and wanted to eat in
their restaurant. Were there reservations available? Also, since there was no
tourist information centers, could they advise us about hiking trails?
We were sent to the chef for both requests. He has lived in the area forever
and hand drew us a map of trails (with directions such as “turn right at the horses").
He also said he wished he could have known in advance that we
would need vegetarian meals as he would have prepared something more
complicated. Wow! We can’t even imagine what that would have been!
The meal was six courses with an unbelievable dessert.
Dinner at the La Ferme de la Huppe was a major highlight. It was simply
the most fantastic vegetarian meal of our lives. The chef is quite famous and
singled out by people who travel far for one of his meals.
The appetizer was a wild mushroom-apple crisp.
It's really hard to describe these courses. We could not do them justice.
Every serving was a meticulously prepared, spectacularly presented marvel.
The soup was a pumpkin creation with crisped spaghetti squash towers
standing tall above the creamy base.
The best description we can muster for the main entree was a vegetable stew.
But the various vegetables (carrots, broccolii, etc.) were all cut
into little balls and mixed in with wild mushrooms in a fabulous sauce.
The next course was a cold fruit soup to cleanse the palette.
And then we were served the first dessert.
It was a chocolate gateau (cake) with lemon sorbet and cassis sorbet
in a wonderful sauce.
Again, everything was prepared from scratch by the chef.
For instance he added fresh lemon bits to the velvety lemon sorbet.
The final dessert was a carmelized sugar innovation
in the shape of a lacy spiral.
The whole day’s experience was quite interesting.
Wednesday September 28, 2005 - hike to Roussillon
We probably shouldn't wear white today.
Unless, of course, you would like to return in red.
Fog launched the day as we devoured a marvelous breakfast
of several different homemade breads, juices, fruit, and cereal.
Time to begin our journey to the hilltop town of Roussillon.
The hike was quite pleasant. We felt more like locals just walking to town.
We're getting the hang of these trail markers now.
Rick Steves says that Roussillon will take at least a roll of your film.
That is an understatement. Only if you jump off the tour bus,
and run through town snapping photos of red and yellow buildings,
and blaze out of here without discovering what's here.
Roussillon sits atop Mont Rouge (Red Mountain) at about 1000 feet above sea level.
An enormous deposit of ochre gives the earth and buildings that distinctive red color.
As the morning fog and clouds cleared, we sprinted to take photos of previous locations.
Every little change of sunlight and clouds affected the colors of the buildings.
Of course the overwhelming views of the surrounding area
were presented at the turn of every avenue we walked.
There's almost no place in town without a spectacular vista .
With the sun now illuminating the region, we headed for the
Conservatoire des Ocres - The Ochre Park.
Roussillon is in the heart of the world's biggest vein of ochre.
At one time these mountains were quarried for the colored clay.
They are now protected in this Preserve.
Ochre is a natural pigment mixed with sand.
Iron oxide yields yellow to purple pigments that are still used for painting.
The colors of the land range from yellow to pink, orange, red, and bright purple.
We spent hours wandering through the multi-colored canyon.
It's amazing how many people were scooping up the red dust
and depositing it into glass jars.
Okay, one last photo and we're outta here.
Glace awaits. Judith decided to try the lavender ice cream (glace).
It was very good, but the chocolate here is so dark and rich,
I just had to have more. Cassis is my next favorite.
Enough of the little treats, let's eat lunch.
Since we are spending the day walking, we decided that
we deserved a big lunch. Well, sorta big - we had salad, bread, and wine!
The hike back was enjoyable, but we were both reminded that
this was our last day in Provence. And there's so much more
to see and experience here.
We had a great time.
Thursday September 29, 2005 - TGV to Nice
We didn't even consider public transportation to get
to the TGV terminal just outside of Avignon.
We were picked up by a taxi at 9:00 A.M. and rushed to the station.
This driver knew every shortcut imaginable to get us there pronto.
Back to Nice after a very quiet train ride.
This train was an express with almost no stops.
We stayed at a hotel at the airport literally overlooking the terminal
we were to fly out from in the morning.
We did not want to miss the flight to San Francisco.