After a couple of hours birdwatching in the salt marshes of the Carmague, we slipped into Arles at sunset, later than we hoped to be but still hoping for a decent meal on a quiet Monday night.
We didn’t ever find the meal (oven-cooked pizza made-to-order in a van, anyone?) , but we did discover the city where Van Gogh did his best work wrapped in the colors of sunset, back-lit against a dramatic, stormy sky. Strolling past the Roman forum and theater and wandering beside the Rhone River, watching the sun paint the sky in soothing pinks and violets, we got a sense of what the great artist saw in the place.
Maybe it was the inability to find a parking space anywhere near the town, or the hundreds of tourists disgourging from tour buses and clogging the tiny streets, but I found Les Beux, a medieval fortress and town north of Arles, disappointing.
Once we wandered back into the surrounding countryside, the magic of Provence returned, particularly when viewing the remains of the Roman aqueduct that once provided water to Arles and surveying the surrounding olive groves.
A couple of winding hours (and a picnic) beyond Rings, we entered the Grand Canyon of Europe, the Canyon of Verdon.
Nothing around this place prepares you for the gorgeous ribbon of blue winding gracefully through such ancient, glacier-carved rock. A thin road clings to both sides of the canyon, tempting you to stop every few kilometers and peek out over the side.
Just down the road from Jouques, where we are staying, we stumbled into Rians, a picturesque village featuring a majestic church (almost a mini-cathedral) and two 12-century towers.
There is nothing about it in our guidebooks, and we appeared to be the only outsiders there on a sleepy Sunday. We got to experience that increasing rare feeling of discovery while traveling, especially while watching some old-timers play a few rounds of boules.
We arrived in Avignon at dusk, after an adventure trying to find a place that both sold diesel and took cash. This might be the best time to arrive, as the light was a beautiful pink on the Pont du Avignon (St. Benezet’s Bridge) and the Palace of the Popes.
Provence is as lovely as we had heard. We arrived on a perfect, warm, sunny day and checked in to a small rental home near Jouques, slightly below the Luberon region.
The photo above features Bonnieux, taken from the adjacent village of Lacoste, while sipping on a vin rouge and cafe au lait at a cafe table we picked out using Google Street View last weekend.
Katherine and I took the good advice from a friend and spent the day exploring various châteaus in the Hautes-Corbieres region of southwestern France.
There are châteaus spread throughout the mountainous area south of Carcassonne, which gained fame in the time of the Cathar religious sect of the 13th century and were fortified by French kings, when this area was part of the border with Spain.
We particularly enjoyed climbing to the top of the Château de Peyrepertuse, near the village of Duilhac. The wind blew fierce and cold, but we braved the elements to take in the unparalleled views that stretched nearly to Spain.
Tonight, we are staying in Aix-en-Provence, preparing to take possession of a small farmhouse on the outskirts of a Provence village. Here’s hoping the renter’s English is better than our French!
After three flights, a long drive, and about 24 of constant travel, Katherine and I arrived in Carcassonne this afternoon, relatively unphased. A jewel of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Carcassonne features beautiful architecture and a well-trodden tourist trail through the old, recreated La Cite.
Antonio and I went on a motorcycle ride to the west bank of the Mississippi River, opposite from Memphis. Few Memphians have witnessed this view, as it is difficult to get to a spot directly across Old Man River from the largest building.
What a beautiful day, too. Perfect weather!
Some folks know that I’ve been doing the One Second Everyday thing since last year, as I bother them with recording my short films at different times. Anyway, here is my compilation of seconds for January, February, and March 2014, which includes two trips to New Orleans, a conference in St. Louis, some motorcycle riding, and a lot of cold, cold winter.
If you haven’t heard about One Second Everyday, it is a app you can load on your smartphone of choice that allows you to grab a second of video everyday and easily construct a movie of it. It is a great way to track where you’ve gone and what you’ve experienced over period of time.
He’s going to eat me! Meeting my end as a shark snack?
This “primitive art” piece is comprised of paint and mud. Love it.
I discovered Crescent Park, which may be one of the best visualizations of New Orleans making lemonade from the Katrina lemons.
So much fun! Why don’t we have these in Memphis?
I’ve been playing around with a project called 1 Second Everyday, and this is a movie all all of my seconds from August to December 2013. (I started when the Android version of the app came out that shoots the video and continued through the end of year.)