France 2009

A little bit of everything

Provence 28 August - 07 September 2009
Coat of arms of the region Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur

Flag of France My first holiday in France lead me into the Provence, located in its south east corner. While the destination was selected rather randomly the region played out its cards well and ravished me completely. My image of France has changed ever since.

Although it was a little bit too late in the year to see the famous lavender fields blossoming, the region has much more to offer. It simply has everything that makes a good holiday: grandiose nature, good food, culture from all epochs, sea and sun - just perfect.
Map of France with the region Provonce, Alpes, Cote d'Azur indicated in Red

Aix-en-Provonce - Mazarin-Quarter
First stop of the journey the the busy and noble Aix-en-Provence. The Mazarin quarter which was founded in the 17th century is dominated by bourgeois city villas and shows the typical colouring and architectural elements that can be found all over the Provonce. We also meet the famous Mistral wind, a chilly wind blowing down the Rhône valley that is also responsible for a perfectly blue sky.

Verdon Gorge
The canyon the small river Verdon has dug into the rock over millions of years is a natural wonder. Calling it the "Grand Canyon of Europe" may be a bit exaggerated but does not lack justification. With a length of 21 km and being up to 700 m deep the Verdon Gorge is at least one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The street is winding in countless curves alongside the abyss. At the end of the canyon the Verdon flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. The mouth is a highly popular destination and swimming area.
Only once when ordering a Café Crème I received the warm milk separately how it is supposed to be in good places. That was enough of a reason to take a picture of it. Elsewhere you will just get a the Café Crème with a dash of milk already inside the coffee while the size of the dash depends heavily on the mood of the waiter.
French laissez-faire? No longer the way it used to be. Like this example in Cassis prohibition signs are by far not seldom despite the fact that the French people like making funs of us Germans and our many rules. Apart from the all over smoking prohibitions also in the child friendly country of France you will find signs prohibiting playing and noise making in a remarkable number. However, while the signs in Germany are desperately seeking for attention with their prominent placing, the French manage it to place them more discretely and then to ignore them with even greater nonchalance.
Fontvieille - Roman aqueduct
The Provonce is full of remnants from the time of the Romans. This includes the famous theaters of Orange and Arles, the well - received Antiques in Glanum, the amazing Pond du Gard, or just a less important aqueduct near Fontvieille, which was used to transport the water for the operation of a mill.
Les Beaux-de-Provence
Once the counts of Les Baux ruled over large parts of Provence. Meanwhile, only ruins remain of the castle Les is Beaux-en-Provence. However, the magnificent view across the country has remained. The village on the slope was re-prepared, but is firmly in the hands of tourists. Still worth seeing. However, one should be good to walk to climb the castle.
Fontvieille - Mas de l'Ange
As is known from the television news, France is still a country of farmers, even if sometimes they have the tendency to dump their products in front of some parliaments instead of selling them. The French farmers have long re-discovered for themselves the benefits of direct sales via the farm shop and hence at every corner one can buy wine, fruits or olive products like at the farm Mas d l'Ange. Besides oil and the famous tapenades this farms house wive is particularly proud of the unique olive jam.
White horses, black bulls and pink flamingos - that colorful the wildlife in the Camargue is. Bulls and horses, however, are hardly found in the wild any longer. Also the flamingos on this picture felt more home in a Bird Park. Although this is nothing like the huge flocks of flamingos found in Africa it remains an impressive and unexpected experience to see them in European regions.
The massive fortress-like palace the Popes in Avignon build for themselves is much too large to be confined on a single photo. And then, of course, there's the remains of Avignon's famous bridge. While singing its tune over and over again one easily forgets how big the construction, with its length of about 900 m, was for the Middle Ages.
The small village of Rousillon located on a hill top is glooming in all shades of ocher that one could possibly think of. In the nearby ocher quarries one experiences an explosion of colour. Absolutely worth seeing. It even distracts you from the marvellous view.
More pictures can be found in my Facebook photo album.
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