VAISON LA ROMAINE
Sunday, April 29, 2012
The sky opened last night and it poured rain all night long; but when we went to breakfast this morning at 8 am…the sun was shining. Our breakfast is included in the price of our rooms in our charming B&B L-Eveche; and it was delicious and served in their personal dining room as the patio was too wet. Jim and I agree that this is one of the most charming places we’ve stayed during our many travels.
We walked down out of the Cite Medievale to the Roman Bridge…stopping for photos and then across the river into the new city….we saw their Sunday Market but continued on to the Tourist Information building. Linda and Terry stayed there and took the tour of the Gallo-Roman ruins that are one of the largest sites in France….including the amphitheater that was only discovered in the early twentieth century. It held 6000 people when it was built and since being discovered in 1907 excavations they have greatly restored the theatre and it is now used for entertainment.
Jim and I headed for the twelfth century Cathedrale to attend Mass. On our ten minute walk we strolled along another area of the Roman ruins of the original city that has been excavated but not restored. We had never seen this particular site on our pass visits to this city. We arrived just as the doors opened at 10 am and enjoyed half an hour to see the interior of the church that reminded us so much of the ruins of the Abbeye at Cluny that we saw yesterday…not surprising as they were both built in the twelfth century. The Cantor had a beautiful voice and much of the Mass was in Latin as well as French so we actually understood some of the words and could participate in the celebration. The back of the church was full of people standing by the time Mass started.
After Mass we walked back along the path with the views of the Roman ruins and met Terry and Linda at the Tourist Center. We walked back to the church so they could see the ruins and the church…but the lights were out already inside the church and it wasn’t nearly as beautiful for them.
Back up the hill to the B&B…took a short break and then walked down the hill again to the car. Linda had set us up for a circular tour of villages within a thirty mile radius of Vaison la Romaine. Jim drove and between the four of us we kept Daisy programmed for all the little villages: Seguret, Le Crestet, Suzzette and Gigondas.
Our first village was Seguret and we walked the village and then began looking for the Chateau ruins. The road kept going up and up; finally Terry and I said enough…but Jim and Linda continued. They were gone for a very long time…about an hour…when they finally returned they were raving about the ruins they’d found after a very long hike! And as another tourist pointed out…her light shoes were not designed for that type of trail. We had no idea of just how high they had climbed until we looked back at the village after driving away and saw how high they had actually climbed…we were all amazed! Look at the photo of the village with a small white box on top of the hill above the village….they hiked from the village up to the ruins!
While we waited I found a king size ant nest that I had been sitting on top of until as Terry said…I got antsy and starting checking the wall! I entertained myself and Terry with stirring the nest into a frantic evacuation! We then had to find another place to sit as the ants took over the wall. We are the camera nuts in our group; so much of the hour was spent reviewing and deleting photos from our cameras. Jim and Linda take the videos.
In Le Crestet we again walked the village and then started towards the chateau ruins at the top of the hill. The boys got ahead of us and the last thing I heard from them was that the steps were getting more primitive the higher we got. Suddenly Linda and I were on all fours scrambling up a shear face on dents in the rocks that were supposed to be steps. We were wondering how the men did it with their big feet! When we arrived at the top they were amazed that we came up that way…they’d walked on a regular path on switch backs and we’d come straight up. We were thrilled that we didn’t have to go down the same way! Actually we discovered cars at the top also; apparently you were able to drive all the way to the top!
The other villages were mostly for the views of the surrounding hills and small mountains; we had views of Mont Ventoux…the highest mountain in the area that has white rock at top that is above the tree line….from nearly everywhere today. Thought about going up Mont Ventoux but it is still closed near the top because of snow on the roads. The road up the hill to Suzzette was very narrow and if you met another car on the road; one had to back up to a pull in place in order to pass. There were also several groups of bicycle riders on this road which didn’t help the driver! Did I mention that there was no shoulder…in fact a sheer drop of several feet in many places…on most of the roads today!
Arrived back at the hotel about 5 pm….Jim and I decided to work on our computers and Terry & Linda hiked up to the chateau ruins at the top of the Cite Medievale. When they returned Linda said that she thinks that she has bruised a bone in the bottom of her foot. Could be from the hike that she and Jim took in Sequret!
At 7 pm we walked down to Le Vieux Vaison, a pizza restaurant, for a great and less expensive…dinner. I was the only one that actually ordered pizza. The dining room overlooked the lower city. After dinner we walked to the church on the hill and then turned in by 8 pm for an early evening in the hotel. Tomorrow we head further south and change hotels.