After Paris, I met up with my dear friend Marlo in Marseilles. She and I spend a couple days there, walking a lot, checking out a few restaurants, cathedrals, the beach scene, and a few beautiful islands!We took a ferry to the isle d'If. The castle there was built in the 1500's and famous for Dumas' the "Count of Monte Cristo" being imprisoned there. It is a museum now, and a funny one: more than the history of the castle it was about the book and consequently the movies. They featured "the count" from all over the world and in many languages.From there, we went to another of the 4 islands in the Frioul archipelago. We found a beautiful small beach to spend a few hours. The vegetation was so beautiful: sages and cactus. I loved the colors. The Mediterranean too was especially stunning.After Marsilles, we went to Arles. Marlo had some art work in the Les Rencontres d'Arles, an international photography exhibit which is over 40 years old. People flock to this small town and book up all the hotel rooms for the week or 2 surrounding the festival. We had a few days there, mostly so she could be around for some of the exhibit's functions. But, we found a bunch of other interesting things to do. One day, we wandered to the Roman Arena and kinda spontaneously agreed to see the bull run. It wasn't what I thought it would be: neither a bull fight nor the thing where the bull runs in the street. It was basically a bull in the ring with like 10 or 12 young guys running all over the place taunting him and jumping over the fence to avoid the viscous beast. Yeah, right, poor thing just wants to eat grass and span some time with a heifer. We left before it was even over. But, no regrets.Another day, it was such a treat to walk the length of the farmer's market! We walked forever and didn't even see everything! Omg, I loved the sight of all the breads, olives, tomatoes, fruits, more tomatoes. I wish I had a kitchen so I could buy a ton-o-stuff. We did get a few things we could eat right away, and they were delicious.
That afternoon, we walked to the exhibition space and saw as much as we could. Marlo's work looked really great and I liked a few of the other artists as well. In another building, we saw the show: I'm a cliche. Artworks and photographs celebrating the punk aesthetic. My friend Meredyth Sparks was in the show, and I loved her work too. We saw works by Dan Grahm and Mapplethorpe and a bunch of others. That night, there was an awards ceremony in the Roman amphitheater and that was neat... well the ceremony was kinda boring, but being in this ancient structure under the moon and star light... that was nice.The next morning we woke up super early (after a fire alarm in the middle of the night) to catch a train to Avingnon where we would meet up with our tour guide for the day. Holy moly, it was Provence at warp speed. I am so glad we did it, we saw and did so many amazing things, but it was jammed packed and I think I got whiplash.
We started the day at L'Isle sur la Sorgue, which is a small island village famous for its antique shops and farmers market. We saw lots of good stuff and I sprung for some cherries and croissants. Also, a lovely band was playing out front of the church. The place is an island, really just because it is surrounded by a moat. Some towns like Avingnon, still have their city walls, while others ditched the wall and kept the moat. Ha. get it. ditch. Well, at any rate, it was a beautiful spot.From there we went to the lavender museum and we learned that lavender in Provence is a myth. Really. It usually grows in the mountains. But, because of tourists the locals have started growing lavendine which can handle the soil contents down in Provence. The museum was really neat, and I learned about all the ways lavender and lavendine has been harvested and processed over the years. We also stopped by a beautiful field of lavendine for a photo opp.
After, we went to the beautiful villages of Gordes and Rousillion. In Gordes we had lunch at my favorite place the whole (south of France) trip. It was a quaint little place owned by two elderly dutch men and I had a super yummy garlic salad with fresh tomatoes. On the way there, we drove past the scenic abbaye de Senanque.Next, we drove on to St Remy De Provence. This is where Van Gogh made his famous "starry night" painting. Also here we saw more Roman monuments and the most preserved mausoleum in the area. The road we were driving on is older than the Roman civilization there! I was also falling in love with the cicadas. Everywhere, we could hear their songs and here in St. Remy I saw some up close. All through Provence people are crazy about the cicadas. You can see their image on pillows, and magnets, and in every tourist shop.From there we drove on to Les Baux De Provence. A beautiful medieval village nestled on a Alpilles mountain top. We had a few minutes to wander around the castle there, such gorgeous sweeping views... Marlo made a joke about how it was like the castle grayskull and even though there were other Americans with us, I was the only one who laughed. What? The village was lovely too, winding narrow cobble stone streets with things to see around every corner.
Finally we drove on to Pont Du Gard. It was stunning. A roman aqueduct from the 1st century. If we had had our suits, it would have been the grand finale of a marathon of a day. But, we made do with just getting our feet wet. We made our way back to Arles and crashed!The next day, our last, was nice and chill, wandering around Arles, a stop in the Van Gogh museum and a lovely spot for dinner with live music. I totally had too much rose, but it was worth it. Thanks Marlo for bringing me along. I loved it!