1. Baux en Provence - medieval village and castle and Venice art exhibition
2. Avignon - bridge of Avignon and palace of the popes
3. Pont du Gard - ancient Roman acquaduct
4. Nimes - intact Roman ampitheatre
5. Narbonne - stunning cathedral and palace
6. Carcassone - quintessential medieval walled city
1. French labor strike at gas stations - dwindling petrol supplies
(click below-right to read more)
Monday Oct 10: We bid farewell to our friends the Aeplis and their French estate, and we drove north to Baux en Provence, a medieval village and castle that had been recommended to us by some friends we met at church the previous day. We walked the castle and village and then attended the "Carrieres des Lumieres" art exhibition. We continued north to Avignon, and found our hotel at Appart-hotel Saint Marthes, and took a walking trip through the city in the evening. We stayed for two nights in Avignon.
Tuesday Oct 11: We spent the full-day in Avignon, traipsing and dancing on the famous "Bridge of Avignon", then toured the "Palais des Papes" or Palace of the Popes, which included an interesting Amazon rainforest photojournalism exhibit. Then we walked through the palace gardens, played a few games of spades alongside swans and ducks at the pond, and returned to the hotel.
Wednesday Oct 12: After departing the hotel, we drove to the Pont du Gard, a massive aquaduct built in 40 AD and still dominating the landscape. Then we drove to Nimes to witness and walk around the ancient Roman ampitheatre. Thereafter, we took a detour from the freeway to walk around Narbonne and see the cathedral and castle. We arrived at Carcassonne in the early afternoon to walk the city wall and the maze of city streets. Finally we arrived in Toulouse to stay in an little airbnb near the Matabieu train station. I dropped off the family and drove to the airport to return the rental car, then took public transportation back to the airbnb. We prepared ourselves for our train ride the following morning to Rodez!
1. Baux en Provence - medieval village and castle and Venice art exhibition - This city stop was recommended to us by a fellow American who we met at church on Sunday. He told us it was a charming medieval city and castle (very true) and also an art installation about the city of Venice (which we'll be visiting in a few weeks). We're glad we took him up on the offer. Both were worth visiting. The art installation seemed to be located in an old quarry, with massive flat limestone walls at odd angles and mainly squarish shapes, onto which was broadcast massive pictures and videos of Venice art and architecture. Every wall in the gallery was covered with projections, including the floor, and the soundtrack was sent though speakers covering the gallery. It was fairly unique and interesting.
2. Avignon - bridge of Avignon and palace of the popes - The city of Avignon was a great place to visit, the entire city wall remains intact and is largely renovated to its original state so the look and feel of the place is quite medieval. While a tourist destination, the city is above all lived and worked in by the French, so the hustle and bustle of everything felt very local. The Bridge of Avignon, and the Palace of the Popes were the two largely tourist destinations. Avignon was actually a papal city-state for centuries, like Vatican city, before it was absorbed into the country of France. Nine popes ruled the church from Avignon, rather than Rome. The palace was then justly suited for the regency. One of the highlights of the tour was a visiting photojournalist installation about the Amazon rainforest, and the largely untouched people and tribes of the Amazon. The pictures and descriptions were fascinating.
3. Pont du Gard - ancient Roman acquaduct - Upon leaving Avignon, we departed for Carcassone, and on the way, I saw the signs to the Pont du Gard, which I had earlier looked into, but forgot about. Ho! We turned around and headed towards Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aquaduct built around 50 AD. It was still standing in all of its restored over the centuries glory. Apparently it was used as a toll bridge for a time, which led to its upkeep. Then in the 1800's, Napolean came to see the bridge, and he loved all things of ancient Rome, so he authorized a restoration. The bridge/aquaduct was massive and impressive to behold. A worthwhile stop.
3. Nimes - intact Roman ampitheatre - We pulled into the city of Nimes and headed towards the center of town to see the ampitheatre. It was built around the same time of the Colosseum in Rome, wasn't quite as large (24,000 vs 80,000), but was fully intact. It actually still sponsors concerts (Depeche Mode came in the 90's). We could have walked to the nearby Roman temple (about 1/2 mile), but decided to to drive there and then abandoned the idea because the city center drive was too crazy. We got back on the highway.
4. Narbonne - stunning cathedral and palace - We continued our drive towards Carcassone, and saw the Narbonne Cathedral sticking up over the rest of the city, and we thought . . "that must be a cool cathedral," . . . so we got off the motorway and headed into the town center. We walked through the narrow streets to the cathedral and entered and it was stunning! The center ceiling was almost 120 feet high, towering over the pews and the stained glass was amazing, and each of the chapels were decorated to catholic relic perfection. A very worthwhile 45 minute detour visit. There was also the palace and underground roman tunnels to see, but we headed back to the car, content with our visions of the cathedral.
5. Carcassone - quintessential medieval walled city - Carcassone was a delight. We got there rather late, around 4:00pm because of all of our other stops, and the chateau museum was closed, but the city wall walk was still open, so we walked about 1 km along the walls, through and over and around the defensive towers overlooking the valley. Then we walked through the city, narrow medieval streets, city walls, stone and timber architecture. It felt like a historical documentary, such a cool vibe.
1. French labor strike at gas stations - dwindling petrol supplies - Europe seems to love labor strikes, and it is a rare visit that one is not affected by a work stoppage somewhere. This week there was a strike across the oil refineries, and petrol (gasoline) supply was affected across the country. We passed many a station that was closed due lack of fuel, but luckily for use, we weren't too badly affected.
Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.