Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Week in Provence

Palace of the Popes in Avignon
It hasn't exactly been "A Year in Provence" but it has been a week.  If you have never been to Provence, it is a difficult place to describe. The climate is a little like south Florida, except with Roman ruins and better food. Provence is a great combination of the culture of Italy, Spain and France with a lot of retirees and tourists. If we spent more time here I think that we would also find that there area lot of Islamic and African influences hiding beneath the surface. The back streets of the larger cities seem to be full of kebob restaurants and women in hijabs.

Provence has a wonderful climate, medieval fortresses, a palace for the popes, a wide variety of scenery and wildlife, and some of the best preserved Roman structures in the world  (I can't call them ruins because they are in remarkably good shape and many of them are still in use for their original purpose).  They also have some great food and wine.

Rice paddies in front with gite in the background
We have spent the week staying in a gite on a farm that grows olives, grapes and rice. The combination of crops might seem unlikely until you see the network of irrigation canals that enables them to grow rice in flooded fields next to hillsides of grapes and olive trees. The ruin of an ancient abbey is visible on the next hill and a Roman viaduct is just over the hill. I get the feeling that life here has not changed tremendously since Roman times. The biggest difference may be that today's barbarian hordes bring gold instead of plundering gold. Tomorrow, we return to the cooler climate of the Loire Valley.

My advice for anybody visiting Provence is to spend at least a week in Provence, ... but a year would be even better. There is a lot to see and it takes time to soak up the ambiance.
Roman Arena in Nimes (still in use)

One of two Roman temples in Nimes

Flamingos in the Carmargue

Fortress of Les Baux

Joan in Roman Theater in Orange

Pont d'Arc in Ardeche Gorge
Roman Arch in Orange

Wild goat in Ardeche Gorge

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