Wednesday, October 25th, 2000 Venasque in Provence
Heard the cooks talking into the night as they cleaned up their kitchen last night. Their window is just below my bedroom! But it was rather pleasant listening to the French language! Slept in a bit and didn’t have breakfast until 9 am. It was tiny croissants and little individual bowls of strawberry and apricot jams, a small bowl with butter (design pressed into the top) and a bowl of sugar cubes, white and brown sugar for the coffee! Overlooked the valley, a beautiful sight from the dining room that we couldn’t see last night in the dark at dinner. Coffee was some of the best since we left Germany.
On the road to Orange by 10 am. Saw a huge outdoors Roman Theater built in 25 B.C. During the reign of Augustus. It is 350 feet long and 125 feet high. It is still in use today. Louis XIV wanted to move it to Versailles….he said, “It is the finest wall in my kingdom!”. But the people prevailed and it stayed in Orange. Absolutely huge! Orange also had an Arc de Triomphe, which is even older than the theater. It was built to honor Caesar. We left there about Noon and headed towards the Pont du Gard, which is located west of Avignon.
The Pont du Gard is considered one of Europe’s greatest treats; a Roman Aqueduct built before the time of Christ. There is no mortar used, only well cut stones. It was built to solve the missing link in a canal used to bring water to the people of Nimes. We are driving back roads today so we are really seeing the essence of Provence! The small country towns are great! So many fields of flowers and produce! And, of course, acres of vineyards. Outside of Rochefort du Gard we saw a church called Notre Dame de Grace which had a hillside with small chapels each representing the stations of the cross. At the top of the hill were the three life size crosses of Calvery. Very impressive.
Arrived at Les Baux about 3 pm. This is a ghost town that has been resurrected and turned into a chic place for tourists. The ruins of the castle are still there in what is called the “dead town”. At one time the castle was the feudal home of the Grimalde family, the Prince of Monaco’s family. It was charming and had some very good photo shots. But, very touristy! Stayed about an hour and then drove on to St. Remy which has the Insane Asylum that Vincent Van Gogh was put in after he cut his ear off. There are lots of sights that he used for his paintings during the time he lived there. But, there is also a Roman ruin. It is called Glanum. One of the main sites there is a monument that Augustus built to honor his two grandsons that were killed. Their names were Caius and Lucius. The original Greek Colony that was first established here was built six centuries before Christ was born.
We then took the back roads back home to Venasque and arrived about 5:30 pm. Reserved a table at the hotel for dinner and called family to let them know that we're back in France. We heard that Spain had floods this weekend. We’ll need to check the condition before we drive in next Monday.
Had a wonderful dinner. Jim ate Hare Stew and I had beef in spring onions. Both were spectacular! Hard to think about going to another restaurant when this one is so good. The chef is such an artist! We’re hoping to remember some of this so that we can recreate it back in the USA!