Ah, Provence!

Class is in session...

Class is in session…

From Toulouse we made our way east towards the walled city of Carcasonne – a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have played the board game, Carcasonne, so the kids were familiar with the name, but I don’t think they ever quite anticipated how truly magical it is. Walking along the walls and ramparts was absolutely wonderful, but as many others before us have pointed out, the central part of the city is completely overrun with tourist shops selling all manner of things. The kids were highly critical of this, but when I asked them what should otherwise be there, no simple answer was put forward. We talked about the need for a city such as that to generate revenue in order to maintain itself and there was subsequently general agreement that perhaps capitalizing on the tourist trade might be the only viable option.

carcassonne2

Phys Ed: once around the castle.

carcassonne3

Drama: re-enacting scenes from Monty Python.

I had suggested that we might want to carry our rain coats with us, as the skies looked somewhat threatening in the distance. While we fortunately didn’t need them while walking, no sooner had we climbed back into the car that the heavens opened up in biblical fashion. I don’t think any of us had ever seen anything like it; apparently it was a record rainfall with a half a year’s rain being dumped within a few hours. It just went on and on. And so we crawled along the highway at 20 km/h.

With Paul and Perrine.

With Paul and Perrine.

We finally got through and arrived at Avignon where we stayed with our next Servas hosts. Paul and Perrine had visited us in Toronto last year (mom, you met them at the time) and so we were thrilled to be able to spend a most enjoyable evening reconnecting. Paul graciously served as our tour guide the next day. We climbed up onto the Pont d’Avignon and, of course, Eva and I danced a little jig together. We then walked around the Palais des Papes, the residence of the popes when they temporarily lived outside of Rome in the 1300s. For all the time that I have spent in Provence, I had never visited either of these two places and so thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay.

avignon bridge

avignon dance

avignon signOn leaving the square in front of the Popes Palace, I spotted a curious sign which gave us a good chuckle for the day. Good thing we are not on any quests on this trip!

Just before leaving, Perrine showed us a restoration piece she was working on. She is an expert at pottery and ceramic restoration and was working to repair a 4,000 BC Egyptian sarcophagus. It was absolutely stunning – so talented!

'After' and 'before.

“After” and “before”.

perrine

We backtracked a little to visit the Pont du Gard which is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. Part of a 50 km-long aqueduct system built by the Romans to deliver water to Nimes (or Nemausus as the Romans knew it), the Pont du Gard is a huge bridge that forms part of the system. Amazingly, over the whole length of the aqueduct, it only drops 17 m in height and the Pont itself only declines 2.5 cm. Again, another awesome sight and a good learning for the kids.

 

Pont du Gard: It's all water over the bridge.

Pont du Gard: It’s all water over the bridge.

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4 thoughts on “Ah, Provence!

  1. Why havei I been silent? I have compiled and written a program of WW1 poems and songs for a presentation on the 11th. It will be somewhat like an illustrated lecturer. I write, produce and direct , full – time since you left , Script posters, tickets now done, rehearsals arranged and all that is left is the programand with a synopsis. For benefit of of Doctors without Borders
    Take care .Love to all, Eric

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  2. Does bring back fond memories. Lola and I sang Sur le pont, too. Way back when… Did you make it to the look out on top of the church outside the walled city in Carcasonne? Spectacular view of the canal, another UNESCO site. Hope you enjoyed tons of bread, cheese and lovely reds while in the south! Missing you lots and enjoying your blog.

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