St Remy

Day Trip from St Remy

We left the delightful Gordes and drove through the fruity counryyside and reached L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue around noon. It was in full swing with the most market stalls I have seen at any market for a long time. 
It made it so colourful and full of life, but also made it hard to appreciate this pretty town. It has waterways running through it with little bridges crossing over. There is a waterwheel and grassy slopes to lie on and many restaurants and cafes. 

We wandered through the markets and I resisted buying things. I don’t need more things! My suitcase is heavy enough – though leaving Brisbane it was only 13.5kg. So I did sneak some gorgeous smelling soaps and L’Occitane shampoo and conditioner.

We wandered the backstreets and poked around a little, then didn’t want to squash ourselves into one of the many restaurants so opted for a picnic. Bought some salad and rolls from the markets and sat on the grassy slope by the little stream and listened to a chanteuse entertaining the crowds with delightful French songs.

Finally made a move and arrived into Avignon and parked in a bus parking area just inside the gates!
Had to do the little jig of Sur La Pont Avignon……. you know how the tune goes. Looking out from the bridge we saw hundreds of people along the banks of the river watching the locals race on their jet skis. It was an organised carnival and had the locals cheering loudly.

We left them to it and made our way up through the narrow streets to the piazza (Italian term) (Place – French Term!) outside the Palace of the Popes. I was in Avignon a few years ago with my sister Catherine. We stayed in the most amazing little B&B opposite the Palace with the eccentric lady of the house. Lots of fun memories. So I reacquainted myself with the town whilst Steve went into the Palace. We had hoped to contact our friends Alan and Jan from Sydney as they are staying in Avignon. But no luck. I hoped we would just run into them as we sat in one of the many outdoor cafe for a while soaking up the atmosphere.

We got back to our hotel in St Remy round 5 and our friends rang! No luck getting together this time I’m afraid. We spent some time writing and reading then headed off for another lovely French dinner. No foam for me this time. I had duck, Steve had pork and we both turned our noses up at the bull on offer!

And so to bed.

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!