Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Today is a public holiday…sometimes called V-E Day, Victory Day or Armistice Day…but I understand that it is actually celebrating the Liberation of France towards the end of WW II. Many stores are closed and also the government; a side benefit is that you can park for free on the streets as the meter readers have a day off! Traffic was very light and we drove past the laying of the wreath as we entered Nimes; they were playing the National Anthem as we drove past on our way to see the Arena.
But before we started our day we enjoyed breakfast in the hotel…included in the room cost…and then took our two weeks of laundry to the Laundromat that was only a few blocks away. Twenty dollars later we were ready to start our tour for the day about 10 am.
Jim is driving today and Terry set Fifi to take us to the city of Nimes. We found parking and walked to the Arena for photos before starting our “Trouser Tour” lead by Linda. (Trouser is a combination of their last names) Using a book that she brought with her, we had a lovely two hour tour of sites in the city center beginning with the Arena, then the Maison Carre…a first Century B.C. building that looks like a Greek Temple.
Then we followed a beautiful water feature all the way to the large fountain in the channels that flow from the very ornate eighteenth century fountain built over a Roman Springs. There had been a Temple dedicated to Diana, now in ruins, next to the fountain. All of this was set in a beautiful garden that climbed slowly uphill.
Off again we walked and walked and walked…missed the street we were looking for but did manage to see a good part of the city before finding ourselves back at the Arena and our car.
Back on the highway and off to the city of Avignon for a look at the Popes Palace and the bridge to nowhere. Getting there was easy…finding parking once we were inside the city walls was something else. But wouldn’t you know…we actually found free parking up against the back wall of the Popes Palace!
Weather had been overcast all day and while we were in Avignon we continued to feel drops but not enough to put up the umbrellas we were carrying. Took lots of photos and then walked over to the Rhone River to view the bridge. It is the back story on a famous French Nursery Rhythm that all children know…sorry…I don’t know the rhythm. Something about dancing on the bridge to nowhere?
Back to our car and backing out of our very tight space…we all stood outside the car and helped direct Jim as there were only inches to spare on the space he was turning around in. We had some tense moments today with driving inside of old city walls in the very narrow streets but no dings and we made it through all of the tight spots.
Our last adventure was back in Arles…we drove to one more of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. About three miles from our hotel is a drawbridge on a canal. I hope you enjoy the photo. They were all amazed that my twin sister Mary and I had walked all the way there and back during our visit in 2009.
Dinner a couple of hours later was at a lovely restaurant called Le Plaza, recommended by Rick Steves, in the old city center of Arles. I have posted a photo of my dinner so you could see the crayfish that decorated my place of seafood. And so ends another lovely day in France. The weather was overcast all day but not really any drops of rain. Tomorrow we change hotels…I think we finally have to pay for our Internet time in the new hotel. We’ve really enjoyed our stay here in the Hotel de la Muette in Arles; it’s the third time I’ve stayed in this hotel…definitely a favorite!