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France - Page Text Content

S: Slow Road Through Provence

FC: France September 2011

1: Paris | Nice | Avignon | Vaison la Romaine | Sauveterre | St. Remy | Aix-en-Provence | Versailles

2: Paris | We arrived in Paris about 8:30AM after a very uncomfortable flight - seats were narrow and food not very good. Since our room was not ready, we decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe - it didn't look far on the map but it seemed to take forever to get there. We were too tired to make the climb to the top.

3: Arc de Triomphe | Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

4: We were hungry by this time and started to check menus. People were pouring into McDonald's and the Burger Palace but we found a nice outdoor café and had tuna steak, pasta and wine for lunch. We continued walking down the Champs-Elysees, stopping to see several gardens and fountains on our way back to the hotel.

5: Obelisque Place de la Concorde

6: Opera House | We had a nice relaxing stroll through the gardens, sat for a while at the pond and people watched. We passed the Opera House on the way back to the hotel where we rested before we went to dinner. An exhausting day.

7: Jardin des Tuileries

8: The next morning we took the Batobus to the Eiffel Tower. On our way, we passed under a few of the 37 bridges over the Seine - all of them different. Lots of traffic on the river. | Houseboats | Our tour boat

10: We arrived at the Eiffel Tower about 10:30 to find a long line to buy tickets. We decided to make the most of our visit by going all the way to the summit. After waiting forever for the elevator, we found we had to change elevators on the second level. Another long wait but well worth it. | Eiffel Tower

11: Gustave-Alexandre Eiffel

13: Bird's Eye View of Paris

14: Along the River

15: Notre Dame de Paris

16: Notre Dame de Paris | We took the boat to Notre Dame, walked around the outside of the cathedral to take in the flying buttresses and then toured the interior. It's hard to imagine such an impressive structure being built in the 12th century. | Rose Window

18: We decided to see the gargoyles up close and waited on line for over an hour. Only 20 people were let up every 10 minutes. We had to climb almost 250 feet up a spiral staircase. As we got higher, the stairs narrowed. We had a great view of Paris and the roof top of Notre Dame. | Notre Dame

19: Chimera Gallery

20: We took the boat back to our stop and walked to the Louvre. We thought we might have enough energy to visit but got as far as the lobby and the gift shop and decided to return to the hotel. | The next day we took the metro and the train to Versailles. Had a little trouble figuring out how to buy tickets but several people helped us - probably because we were holding up the line! | Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

21: Chateau de Versailles

22: Louis XIV

23: Chateau de Versailles | Chapel

24: King's Bed Chamber | Queen's Bed Chamber | Beautiful ceilings!

25: Hall Of Mirrors

26: Jardins du Chateau de Versailles | Latone Fountain

27: After viewing the Chateau, we went out to the 'back yard'. There were ponds, lakes, statues, fountains and flower beds. We walked through the hedges and found hidden sculptures and monuments. We had our lunch on one of the park benches and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings.

28: The Fountain of Apollo

29: Jardins du Chateau de Versailles | Colonnade Grove | Bacchus Fountain | Saturne Fountain

30: As we walked through the gardens, we heard classical music but didn't know where it was coming from. We stumbled on this small lake where the fountains were playing in time with the music. What a delightful way to end our visit to Versailles. | Jardins de Versailles

31: The next morning we met the rest of our group, said adieu to Paris and transferred to the TGV train station. This high speed train whisked us to Avignon in the south of France in under 3 hours. | Paris | Avignon

32: Avignon | The Papal Palace

33: We met our trip leaders, Beatrice and Veronique, at the station and drove a short way into Avignon for a walk through the old town. We climbed to the top of the city wall for a great view of the river and surrounding areas.

34: The Bridge to Nowhere | City Square

35: Notre Dame des Doms

36: Vaison la Romaine | After leaving Avignon, we drove to the medieval village of Vaison la Romaine where our hotel was in the middle of the old town. Our bus couldn't navigate the narrow lanes so we hiked up the hill and after many twists and turns we finally arrived at the hotel. | These stairs were very uneven - the stone was worn down after years of use. Some were wide, others narrow, all were dangerous. We managed to get up and down safely for our entire stay - even after wine at dinner.

37: The fountain outside our window. | The street to our hotel.

38: Le Chateau au Comtal | After settling in, we walked through town to the top of the hill to see this old Chaâteau. There wasn't much left but the views were worth the climb.

39: We had some free time after our walk to relax. The group met before dinner for a welcome drink and to get to know our fellow walkers. Dinner in the hotel was excellent.

40: We drove to Gordes to start our walk to the Abbey. We stopped at this overlook for a great view of the town. | Lavender fields | 4.5 km walk

41: Abbaye Notre Dame de Senanque | The monastery was founded in 1148 by the Cistercian monks. There are only six monks in residence today; they follow the medieval cycle of prayer, silence, study and work. The chapel was very plain so the monks wouldn't have any distractions when they prayed.

42: Gordes | We returned to Gordes for some free time and lunch. We ate at the Creperie where we had cheese crepes, salad and dessert. Later we walked around the main square and the market. Everywhere we looked, we saw the famous Provence cricket.

43: The bathroom at the restaurant was cut out of the stone wall - very tiny. I don't think they'll run out of toilet paper any time soon.

44: Market of Vaison la Romaine | We planned to picnic during our walk today so we had to buy our lunch at the market. This market originated in 1483 and is still going strong. It was huge - it seemed to go on for miles. Everything was sold here including furniture. We finally found the food section and picked up a baguette, cheese and grapes for lunch. | On our way to market

45: 7.5 km walk | We walked through the medieval village, around the chateau and past the Roman aqueduct. We wended our way down into the woods for a very nice stroll. | Le Chateau au Comtal

46: After walking for an hour or so, we stopped for lunch near a small stream. Our lunch was delicious, especially the cheese. | Village of Le Crestet

47: Our trip Leaders Beatrice & Veronique | Mont Ventoux | Le Crestet

48: Church of St. Sauveur

49: We made our way down the hill and walked past a vineyard where the grapes were being harvested.

50: Chateau de Varenne | Parlor | Dining Room | Terrace | Pool

51: Gate House | All the rooms were very different - one room was in a tower, another had a spiral staircase to a rooftop sitting area. We had an attic room. | Our room

52: 3 km walk | We settled in and were undecided whether to take the optional walk. Once we found that the destination was a winery, we were eager to start! | Vins de Provence

53: On our return walk we saw this cemetery. Very interesting graves. | Wonderful dinner!

54: 6 km walk | We started our walk in Vers, walked through some vineyards and came to the remains of the Roman aqueduct built in the first century A.D. We followed the aqueduct for several kilometers and ended at the very impressive and famous Pont du Gard. | Beatrice & Veronique

55: Pont du Gard

56: Pont du Gard

57: We climbed the hill to see the top of the aqueduct. At one time, brave, but foolhardy, people were allowed to walk along the very top which is only about 3 feet wide. That ended after several fatalities. Years ago, our tour leader, Veronique, walked across to impress a boyfriend.

58: We drove to Uzes for lunch and a little free time. We found this small restaurant in the main square and could people watch while we ate. We walked around this quaint town before meeting for our afternoon walk. | Uzes

60: Cathedrale Saint Theodorit

61: 5 km walk | We walked down the hill from Uzes to this park and followed the stream to the Eure Spring.

63: Water Fountain | This small spring is the source of the water for the aqueduct from Uzes to Nimes. | We continued walking through the park and woods and eventually came to this field where the horses came to visit us. We ended the walk back in Uzes. | Eure Spring

64: Boules | Before dinner we had a cocktail party and learned how to play the French game of Boules. It was the men (The Bad Boys) against the woman (The Birthday Girls). The games were close; the women won one game and the men the other. We ran out of light so couldn't play the tiebreaker

66: Les Baux | Santons | Les Baux is located on a plateau 803 feet high.

67: Our first stop was the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence. We had time to wander the streets and see the church. The many shops were tucked into nooks and crannies in the city walls.

68: 9 km walk | Les Baux

69: Today was our longest walk. The bus took us from Les Baux, up a steep hill to the trail head. We could see Les Baux in the distance as we started out. We walked along the ridge with gentle ups and downs and had wonderful views of the plains and mountains. Our walk continued down through wooded slopes to St. Remy. | Les Alpilles

70: We ended our walk at the home of Odile Mifsud. She makes beautiful desserts and served us a wonderful lunch. We ate outside and had wine, a salad made with vegetables grown in her garden, zucchini quiche and Napoleon for dessert.

71: After lunch, Mathilde Hamel, art historian, took us on a walking tour of St. Remy, following the footsteps of Vincent an Gogh. | Vincent van Gogh

72: Our walking tour gave our tour leaders a much needed rest. | Monastere St Paul de Mausolee | Van Gogh spent his last years in this asylum | Vincent van Gogh

73: St.. Remy | Hotel de L ' Image | Our hotel was right on the main street and looked very plain. When we walked through the building, we discovered a huge garden and pool. There was even a maze but we never found it. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool. | Tree house suite

74: 7 km walk | Our walk started with a very steep stretch of an old Roman road, went through fields and ended at a winery.

75: Roman Ruins | Almost there!

76: Once at the winery we saw a film about the development of the vineyards, tasted three wines, each better then the last and then had a tour of the wine cellar. | Wine Cellar

77: After our tour, we walked down the hill for our picnic lunch. Veronique had set out a spread of delicious French breads, cheeses, meats and fruit and vegetables. It was quite a feast. | Picnic Lunch

78: St. Remy de Provence | After our picnic we could either walk back to St. Remy or take our bus. We decided to ride so we could spend some time walking around the old town.

80: Farewell Banquet

81: Aix-en-Provence | Aix begins our post-trip - we are now on our own.

82: We arrived in Aix mid morning in time to wander the market. Almost everything is sold here - fruit, vegetables, flowers, spices, clothing and Provencal souvenirs

83: After walking around the market, we wandered through the old town. Everywhere we looked, there were fountains and churches. The buildings had statues and busts carved over windows and at the corners. | Aix-en-Provence

84: Aix-en-Provence | The view from our hotel window. | After walking through town, we returned to the hotel and spent some time at the pool before going out to dinner. | This looks like an advertisement for a fish restaurant that specializes in salmon. It's really a tobacco shop!

86: Aix-en-Provence | Nice | The next morning we caught the train to Nice which took a little over 3 hours. Part of the trip was along the coast - the water looked really inviting. | The French Riviera | Hotel Westminster | Our hotel was just across the road from the Promenade with a magnificent view of the water. Our room had a view of the rooftops. Luckily, we didn't plan on being in the room for long. The hotel had this wonderful spiral stairway - plants on each landing and art work on the walls. | Nice

87: The Promenade | 1922 | 2011 | After settling in, we walked along the Promenade for a while. Later we found this park and spent some time listening to the band play. | Jardin Albert - l er | Tourist Train | Quite a difference from 90 years ago.

88: Le Chateau | At the end of the Promenade, rising sharply on a rock is the site known as Le Chateau. The Dukes of Savoie built their castle here. It was torn down in 1706 - only a few stones are still standing. Today it is a garden and park with magnificent views of the harbor and beaches.

91: After exploring Le Chateau, we found a restaurant where we had pizza and wine for dinner. We walked back to the hotel through the place Massena. | place Messena | Triton Fountain | Nice

92: We had to take the city tram and then a bus to Eze. The town is perched atop a mountain overlooking the coast. | Village of Eze

93: Village of Eze | Tucked into nooks and crannies were art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and artisans' shops. We walked every street and got quite a work out.

94: At the pinnacle of the town was a garden of exotic plants and sculptures.

95: Jardin d' Eze

96: Notre-Dame de l ' Assumption

97: We had lunch at this restaurant which was set on either side of one of the narrow streets. We had a ham and cheese crepe with a cream sauce. Delicious. | As we were leaving Eze we passed this restaurant. Appetizers ranged from 55 to 115 Euros, desserts were 29 Euros and main courses started at 195 Euros! We decided not to have dinner here.

98: St-Paul-de-Vence

99: On our last day in France, we took an hour long bus ride to St-Paul-de-Vence. This was another medieval village built on a high hill. Not one street was level - we got our exercise today. | The entrance was through the old city wall and up a steep hill.

100: Village Sights

101: The Grand Fountain

102: Collegiale de la Conversion de St - Paul | This church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. We walked to the cemetery and then found a bite to eat.

104: Marc Chagall is buried here

105: The Ramparts

106: Not matter how much we enjoy traveling, the best place is home.

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Carol LaPonte
  • By: Carol L.
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