Paris - Provence 2011

I was scheduled to be in Paris for some work and decided to tack on a few extra days to the trip to visit the Provence region. We stayed at the Moulin de la Roque, in Noves, and headed out each day on our adventures. We also spent a few days in Paris exploring and doing some serious walking. Many of the sections contian short videos of the places visited.

Arles

With the first bridge over the Rhone River, Arles was a key stop on the Roman Road from Italy to Spain, the Via Domitia. Vincent Van Gogh settled here in the late 1800’s. Much of the town was destroyed during World War II. It is a great place to see Roman ruins and the aqueducts nearby and some nice museums. Van Gogh completed many of his most famous paintings here including The Night Cafe, Yellow Room, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and L'Arlesienne. Definitely worth the visit.

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Bonnieux - Lacoste

Bonnieux. Stopped long enough to take a few photos. The village looks spectacular from a distance but not so much up close.
Lacoste. Across the valley from Bonnieux, there is a ruined castle once owned by the Marquis de Sade (1740 – 1814). Needless to say some interesting things happened at this castle until he was arrested and imprisoned for 30 years. Today Pierre Cardin owns the castle and he is remodeling it. We ended up stopping here for refreshments.

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Cassis

We drove down to the port town of Cassis on the Mediterranean Sea for a change of scenery. Along the way we stopped off at La Route des Cretes. Once in Cassis, we had a wondeful meal across from the marina and then we took a boat tour of the Calanques, or inlets, that border the little town. On the way out of town we stopped off and bought some wonderful Italian gelato. It was a long trip back to Noves, but this outing was worth it.

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Châteauneuf du Pape

Châteauneuf du Pape (New Castle of the Pope) is named for the Pope’s summer retreat but is now a ruin. In 1308, Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, relocated the papacy to the city of Avignon. It is a beautiful hill top town where we had a wonderful meal at Le Verger des Papes. Today the town is famous for its blend of 8 different grapes, with Grenache being the prominent grape, which is well controlled to produce “big” wines.

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Gordes

Gordes. We only stopped here and at the Abbey Norte Dame de Senanque just outside the city to take photos as we worked our way to Roussillon.

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Isle sur la Sorgue

Isle sur la Sorgue, the Island on the Sorgue River, is right in the middle of the Luberon Region where we also visted Gordes and Roussillon. It is also called the Venice of Provence because of its extraordinarily clear but shallow river which flows through the town.

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Les Baux

The sun-bleached ruins of the “dead city” of Les Baux are carved into, out of, and on top of a rock 650 feet above the valley floor. Many of the ancient walls of this castle still stand. The Lords of Baux were notorious warriors and in the 11th century, Les Baux controlled about 80 surrounding towns. The fortress was destroyed in 1483 after having struggled with the French king and losing. It was destroyed again in 1632 when Cardinal Richelieu demolished the castle.

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Lourmarin

We decided to go back to the hill towns of the Luberon and visited the market and chateau in Lourmarin, which is the southernmost Luberon village. From there we drove by Bonnieux and stopped off for refreshments in Lacoste.

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Moulin de la Roque

We chose Noves as our base of operations in Provence primarily because of the Moulin de la Rqoue, which is the villa where we stayed at. The photos in this section do not do the place justice. Guy and Gaby and their dog Simba made sure our stay at their lovely villa was truly enjoyable and Gaby was especially helpful in giving us directions and suggestions of what to visit and when. I look forward to one day returning to this wonderful place.

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Paris

Paris. Still one of my favorite cities. This trip we did a great deal of walking mostly between the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter. Many of the photos were taken late in the evening and provide some idea of Parisian night life. The nighttime photos of Notre Dame, in particular, really stand out.

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Roman Aqueduct

This aqueduct provided water to a Roman mill at Barbegal and to the city of Arelate (modern day Arles). The Roman lifestyle required large quantities of high-quality water. I only took a few photos as we were really interested in getting to Arles as soon as possible.

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Roussillon

Roussillon sits atop Mount Rouge (Red Mountain) at above 1,000 feet above sea level and reminds one of Santa Fe if it sat on a hill top. It has been a protected village since 1943 and has benefited from a complete absence of modern development. This was our last stop of the day before heading on back to Noves.

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Séguret

Séguret. It is a very small city with only a few shops, two cafes making for a good coffee or dinner stop, and some wonderful lanes for strolling.

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St. Rémy de Provence

St. Rémy de Provence. Famous for giving birth to Nostradamus and caring for Van Gogh after he lopped off his ear. Only about 10 miles from Noves, where we lodged, we returned to St. Rémy several times to dine, visit on the Provencal Market Day for which it is famous, and do some gift shopping.

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Vaison la Romaine

Vaison la Romaine. We decided to concentrate mainly in the upper town walking the cobbled lanes surrounded by wonderful homes, gardens and fountains. The chateau at the top of the rocky outcrop was built by the prince-bishop of the town decided around 1195 AD to counter attacks by the Counts of Toulouse. The climb to the top really took it out of us.

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