Day 3: A lovely loop in the country side

Day 3

Another good night’s sleep. Despite Steve having a rather nasty cough. Hope I don’t get it!

Today we set off for Gordes, L’ilse da Sorgue and Avignon.

It was a beautiful day and I’m still recovering form the bull fight of last night. I’ve been once. I definitely don’t have to go again.

Our rather eclectic room

We set Our Lady of Directions (aka the tom-tom) and sat back and enjoyed the drive. It’s lovely countryside. Lots of fruit trees around and green fields. Van Gogh would love it.

We arrived at the hill town of Gordes and Steve is very much into the “John McGann school of parking” – always drive to where you want to be and then look for a park. We saw people walking up from the bottom of the hill car park and we drove to the town and got a spot. You have to pay but really it’ not much  – 3 to 4 euros for convenience. Well worth it. We loved this village – quiet despite the tourists and really lovely coloured stone in the buildings.

Enjoyed watching all the cyclists ride up the steep hills and stop at the top for drinks. Reminded us of John B when we stayed with them in Cotignac.

Off to dinner! I’ll finish today later!

Day 2: Following in the steps of Van Gogh

A beautiful day and after a long sleep hit the local patisserie for coffee and croissant. Not entirely healthy but lovely. Followed up with a trip to the markets and made a new friend and bought some fruit including the most delicious summer peaches.

First poster in the Van Gogh trail, outside
the Hotel de Ville


Cloister where Van Gogh worked at St Pauls


Van Gogh’s bedroom

Heading to the Tourist bureau for some info and then started the walk of Vincent Van Gogh. It along
a pretty tree lined street and is marked out by sign featuring one of his paintings, more or less in the spot where he was when he painted.

Across the field form St Paul’s hospital

We arrived at St Paul’s hospital in the countryside. This was the asylum he lived in for a year. It’s a wonderful setting looking out across the fields  towards the mountains that feature in his amazing paintings. We walked in the fields where he painted the irises and the haystack. We visited his little bedroom with the soft green curtains over a barred window,  where he sat with his easel and captured the
sunlight on wheat  fields. It made me want to
pick up a paintbrush.

Roman ruin at Glanum


Our view from our rocky lunch spot

After a peach stop under the olive trees we visited the Roman ruins at Glanum. Surprisingly big and intact.

Then it was back to hotel for car collection and a quick change or our visit to Arles and the bull fight.

On the way we visited some small villages including Les Baux de Provence an amazing hill town. We sat and lunched perched on rocks overlooking the fields with the mountains in the background. Truly beautiful.

After scrambling down from our rocky perch we walked around the steep village and took photos. Steve and I are in competition over who takes the best photos – he thinks he does and I think!!!!!!

From here we followed the road and stopped at Maussans and then Fontviellers. Both charming towns and coming close to the beauty of Cotignac where our fiends John and Margaret Brannock have a lovely house. For me the perfect village has beauty – in trees,  buildings and surroundings. It isn’t packed with tourists and has enough on offer to keep one busy during a stay. A few restaurants and cafes, a patisserie, boulangerie, walks nearby, and friendly people. I’m not fussy! But Cotignac is hard to beat. We’ll see what’s around tomorrow.


Walk up towards the Colosseum

Then it was Arles and the bull fight. We managed to find a park not to far from the town gate and walked into what seemed like a huge party  – everyone was sitting or standing around in groups not unlike before a big Rugby match. Only difference is that generally people here don’t drink too much. In fact many were drinking sparkling water..

The pink band get the crowd going


Hat seller doing a roaring trade

We joined in and then made our way up the sloping street towards the Colosseum. Excitement mounting with each footstep. We reached the stairs and stopped to listen to the bands play. One dressed in pink shirts, one in white and one in blue. It was like a play off!
we entered the arena and climbed to our seats. Not too high up but unfortunately in the sun! People started sweating! The band warmed up, the singers started to create atmosphere, the green arena sparkled – literally, I don’t know what was in it but it was so sparkly! Then the procession started. The pretty ladies entered, the men on horses dressed to the nines, and finally the toreadors – men in extra decorated outfits, with what look like tights and ballet shoes. All very formal in their bowing to the officials, who were also all dressed up in spanish type of outfits.

The parade starts

The excitement mounted, though for me it was more like the apprehension mounted. Not sure i like the idea of man vs beast. I think I know how it will turn out and i hope my stomach doesn’t turn.

The toreadors with their pink capes

After all the pre fight was over it was down to business.. There were to be 6 bulls on show. Before it started someone walks around the ring with a big sign saying the weight and age of the bull – I’m glad they don’t give him a name.Too personal. Then it’s on. I tried to work out the way it ran, but hiding behind my hat and my red and black fan I had a little trouble. It seems there are about 6 toreadors who are the tempters and distractors for the main man – Jean B. They did a good job warming the bull up so he charged and they all ran. Training must include leaping over tall fences because they all did it wonderfully well. Then out does a horseman wearing armour and its his job to spike the bull with a lance. It was awful to see the bull charge the horse  – then to get stabbed by the horseman. He also wore tin over his legs as protection.

The horses arrive
The man himself. Local boy Jean Bapitsse

Then its over to the guys who have what look like decorated sticks –  and its they job to poke them into the bull, so in the end he looks like he had coils all poking out of his head. If only I didn’t know they were sharp and dangerous because by now the bull was shedding blood and slowing down. Then the main man Mr Jean B set about mesmerising the bull and whipping his cloak around and got the bull closer and closer until he almost put his arms around him. Poor bull still doesn’t realise he is the enemy and is about to pierce him to death..
I couldn’t watch the next part. But the crowd seemed to like – though Steve on one side and a lovely young woman on the other of me also didn’t applaud or cheer.

I’ll put more photos on then next page – don’t look at the ones where the bulls are dragged off  – or the President who waves flags to say how many things are cut off the dead bull. One ear, Two ears, a tongue and a tail. Depends how good the “fight” was!
I must say the spectacle was grand and so on butI’m just surprised that its still allowed. The crowd are very well behaved and know NOT to callout and distract the bull or the toreador .

After the fight was over we decided not to party on with all the town people or to go with our new friends to the free flamenco concert. We drove back to St Remy, pronto in need of a drink.
Had a nice meal but both decided on a non-meat dish. I had fish and once again it came with a sea looking foam over the fish. Quite delicious. Steve had duck.
Another good nights sleep.not dreaming of bulls.
No el toro poop poop (as Ginetta would say) . Work it out!

Day 1: Arles and St Remy

We landed in Montpellier and quickly got our car organised and away we went. Drove along the water through the Carmargue – known for its horses, cowboys, flamingoes , riz and salt  and arrived for lunch in Arles.
Arles is on the river Rhone and is friendly, old and excited! There is a bull fight coming to town.  Complete with famous French bullfighter. We decided we couldn’t miss out on the spectacle so bought tickets. I’m in it for the beautiful bull fighters and their outfits. Hope there is not bull killing while I’m around.
Lunch was a beautiful Niçoise salad – something I always order and every time it’s different. This one was just right coming out of a 29 hour journey from Australia.
We walked up the hill and turned the corner and found the 1st century Roman Colloseum. It’s is another reason we are going to the bullfight. It’s in this amazing Colloseum.

We wandered around it and then went to  the remains of the Roman theatre nearby and imagined what it would have been like all those centuries ago.

Our Hotel room. top floor with terrace

After lots of walking we rewarded ourselves with our first gelato and sat in the gardens. Beautiful.
Back to the car and off to St Remy.

First impressions. A beautiful town , winding tree lined streets, our lovely hotel set in the town centre, but well and truely discovered by the tourists. The fashionable tourists. We saw lots of men in very colourful shorts. Red, lime, pink! It’s often the men who stand out in France! Lots of gorgeous shops but I had no girl power so didn’t get to browse too many. Little book club girls we would have had a ball!

St  Remy Hotel de Ville and the first poster of the Van Gogh trail

Stopped at an appropriate tree covered cafe and ordered a drink to settle the dust of the journey and made our plans. Selected a restaurant for dinner, guided by our friend of the hotel and planned our day tomorrow. We are doing the Vincent Van Gogh walk. It’s a kilometre or so out of the town past places and scenes  he used to do his 150 paintings whilst a patient  in the hospital in the town.  He must have been a very busy man!

Then a little rest and off to dinner. Oh my the food was wonderful. My entree tasted like the sea. I’ll try and post a photo. It had sea flavoured foam around an island of fennel, prawns and little flavourings. So totally balanced. It was delicious. Followed up with lamb with little stops of eggplant moussaka and yoghurt herb dressing and dessert was amazing. It was white – blanc! Hidden inside underneath the layers of white yoghurt , ice cream was a rhubarb gel. Yum is all can say.

Home and fell into bed!