Oh, goodness! Where to begin. So many wonderful sites to see that an average tourist probably would not see. The name of the tour is Lavendel Blüte which means Lavender Blossom – literal translation for my German speaking child. And oh do they have blossoms!–that Provence could be the source of the lavender of the world is mind boggling! Well, I came on this tour because I love lavender and wanted to see lots of it. Boy have I seen lots of it. At one point we managed to get out of the bus to go play and picnic in the fields. Just imagine a bus full of 50+ year old people playing in the lavender! It was wonderful, glorious, awesome, incredible, fantastic…..get the picture?
Do you know what ochre is? Most artists do and now after a trip to Roussillon I do. This place is a beautiful little city sitting on top of this incredible ochre bluff with views that are amazing. This is an artist community with wonderful little shops selling lavender items and paint supplies cafes, and incredibly friendly people. I know people say the French are so rude but I have yet to encounter one rude person. They are open and welcoming to everyone with whom they deal. And this lovely little town was no exception. The area is known for its olive oil but I really have no use for it in Macedonia so will simply have to enjoy it with my food here.
Another item I’ve discovered here is door handles. The French are incredibly creative when it come to door knobs.
As you can see from these two examples, whimsy is their middle name.
Additionally back in the 1300’s a pope or two decided to abandon Rome for Avignon. He built himself a humble little abode with a rather large wall around the perimeter of his home and managed to keep the papacy in France for about 75 years. Avignon was/is an incredibly beautiful city with more to see than can be seen in a single visit. This is definitely one place I shall return to. And, oh, yes. The food was good too, even though I opted for Spanish food and not French!
Next stop: the Camargue with the wild horses, steers and flamingos. We only saw the flamingos flying over–their long legs flapping in the wind and all the steers were quite a distance away. (Oh I just remembered a story from high school about flamingos, the Caribe Hilton and an elevator–a lifetime ago! Oh the memories things trigger!) The horses were magnificent! Some have been domesticated and we saw a number of people riding them but there were so many just roaming around out there in the rice paddies. The Camargue is the area where the Rhone empties into the Mediterranean. And then there was the Mediterranean! Oh, my gosh. We went to Les Saintes Marie de-la-mer and there it was. Wind blowing in off the water and making it quite a beautiful. This little town has a fascinating history. I actually learned here that the gypsies have their own patron saint–Sainte Sara!
Arles was next–the place where Vincent Van Gogh painted a number of famous paintings and home of my favorite Gipsy Kings. It is also the home to some pretty magniificent Roman ruins. It was not hard to see how so many artists could have been inspired by the pure beauty of Provence.
And did you know there is a Grand Canyon in Europe? Sure enough! And oh, it is magnificent. The entrance of the canyon is in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and you are at first struck by the beauty of this little village hanging on the side of a cliff. We stopped and visited the town and I was thoroughly impressed by the abilty of the people to have built this town so many years ago without the benefit of modern technology. From there we went into the canyon area and there just are not words for it.
And then there were more lavender fields and more and more and……..
Words cannot begin to describe this trip and how incredible it was–even though I speak very limited German, I understood what was being said and I never made the bus wait for me because I didn’t know what time to be back! The other people on the bus were very accepting of the crazy American. “How did you end up on a tour with all Germans?” Oh–it is a long story for another day.