Blog: June 2008

A Happy Birthday in Arles

Posted on June 30, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Arles, in which I got to see ancient Roman tombs and other good stuff in a museum followed by Romanesque sculptures on a cathedral. Then we had a nice outdoor dinner back in Aigues-Mortes. Perfect! Arles was smaller and less crowded than we expected, which was nice. Judging by how many cars we passed going the other way, it seemed that everyone was going to the beach instead! The Museum of Ancient Arles is on the outskirts of town just off the freeway, and has its own free parking lot...

The Camargue

Posted on June 28, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from the Camargue, a region of ultra-flat wetlands south of Arles known for white horses, black bulls, cowboys, flamingos, salt and rice. And wine, of course, as with every region in France. We are still in Provence, but on its western edge. It is approximately a gazillion degrees outside but we are beginning to adapt. A little. We had a good drive here from Nice, although it was over three hours and the southern French drivers occasionally gave us bad memories of the Italians...

In the Manner of Grace Kelly or Similar

Posted on June 25, 2008 by Holly Hayes
This evening we took a fantastic drive to Monaco along The Corniches, the winding roads seen often in movies (including at least one Bond) and where poor Princess Grace died in a car accident. There are three Corniches, each one higher up the cliff than the last. We drove to Monaco on the Moyenne Corniche (the middle one) and back on the Grand Corniche (the highest)...

Avignon and Papal Castles

Posted on June 24, 2008 by Holly Hayes
So, I'm finally getting around to our days out around Avignon last week. They were fun days so I don't want to pass them by without posting a few photos and memories. Last Wednesday we took a day trip to Avignon, only 25 minutes down the freeway from Orange. Since we knew it would be best in the evening light, we dawdled a little and explored a couple nearby villages on the way...

More Good Times in Nice

Posted on June 24, 2008 by Holly Hayes
The good times are continuing here in Nice. We did end up going to the beach late afternoon yesterday and it was absolutely glorious! Sorry there are no pictures, but we didn't want to leave our cameras unattended on the beach while swimming. Nice's beaches aren't sandy but made of large, smooth, rounded rocks. It can be a little uncomfortable for sunbathing and very uncomfortable for barefoot walking, but it's nothing a mat, sandals, and/or proper stone placement can't solve...

Nice is Definitely Nicer!

Posted on June 23, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from the French Riviera! We are very happy in Nice and so glad we changed our plans. Our hotel room is spacious and stylish with functioning air conditioning, and the ocean is as beautiful as we remember. It is still very hot, but that's always more bearable at the beach! Our arrival in Nice yesterday coincided with the Ironman France competition - a 3...

A Week in Provence

Posted on June 21, 2008 by Holly Hayes
This post comes to you from behind the window at top right, in the city of Aix-en-Provence. Happy Summer Solstice! I hope everyone enjoys the longest day of the year with some nice sunny weather, relaxation and cold drinks. It is still very hot here in the South of France. Although I acknowledge the inherent wrongness of complaining about this, honestly we aren't loving it...

Ah, Sunny Provence

Posted on June 19, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings again from Provence, where it is finally, actually, hot! Too hot, really. We got good and sunburned yesterday and the temperature reached the 90s this afternoon. Lunch in Gordes, Provence This is our last night based in Orange and the last few days have been busy ones. As soon as the rain stopped we got out on the road, exploring the countryside with its castles, churches and Roman ruins...

Day Out from Orange

Posted on June 18, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Yesterday our first outing from Orange started out on the freeway in the pouring rain. It continued to rain most of the time we were inside our first church, but got gradually nicer throughout the day. That church, an old cathedral in the village of Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, was an ideal place to wait out the rain because there were sculptures, murals *and* mosaics to keep us busy! It was very dark inside so we both had the tripods going, too...

Scenic Drive in the Ardèche

Posted on June 16, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our drive south from Clermont-Ferrand on Saturday was long but spectacular. The first part was in the Auvergne region, described in the last post, and the second part was in the even more rugged Ardèche. The highway weaved around forested volcanic peaks, passed meadows grazed by muscular horses and cattle, and even crossed over some pretty high passes...

Three Days in the Auvergne

Posted on June 15, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Our apartment complex, with some sunshine the morning we left. Our stay in Clermont-Ferrand was short and sweet. The apartment-hotel worked out really nicely for us and we enjoyed several home-cooked meals. There was even a dishwasher, which I could hardly remember how to use, it's been so long since I've seen one! With my breakfasts I had quail's eggs! They were tiny and delicious...

Magnificent Tournus Abbey

Posted on June 15, 2008 by Holly Hayes
The last major sight we visited in Burgundy was the Abbey Church of St. Philibert in Tournus, built in the 11th century. It was magnificent. Here are a few photo highlights. View of the west front through the abbey towers. We parked right here outside the gate, and there is even closer parking around the church. View from southwest. The west front is austere and castle-like with no sculpture, but it is beautifully decorated with Lombard bands and other patterns...

Burgundy Churches: Paray-le-Monial, Anzy-le-Duc and Several-Other-Ones

Posted on June 13, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Before moving on to our latest experiences, I can't neglect our last big day of sightseeing from Macon, which was last Monday. We saw a whopping eight churches, most of which were in small villages with long hyphenated names. The sun actually shone most of the day and we had such a nice day of driving around and enjoying ourselves at a relaxed pace...

Old St. Vincent's, Mâcon

Posted on June 12, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We were mainly in Mâcon because it is a such good base for seeing lots of Romanesque churches in southern Burgundy, but it also has a nice church of its own. It's called Vieux St-Vincent and has been in ruins since the 1700s. The very impressive facade above was originally inside the church - in taking the picture I was standing where the nave was...

Hotels, Cars and Food in Mâcon and Clermont

Posted on June 11, 2008 by Holly Hayes
We were based in Mâcon for 10 nights, but we moved hotels halfway through (for availability reasons), so it didn't seem that long. The first five nights were in the Novotel Mâcon Nord, which, despite an uninspiring location near a truck stop just off the freeway, was a nice place. The air conditioning worked great and we were able to make some good homemade breakfasts and lunches thanks to our mini-bar fridge...

Roman and Romanesque Treasures in Autun

Posted on June 10, 2008 by Holly Hayes
As promised, here are some photos from our last stop on Wednesday, the city of Autun in northern Burgundy. It's a very pretty city with lots to offer those interested in Roman and Romanesque art. Autun was settled in Roman times, when it was known as Augustodunum. You can still see some Roman ruins around the city, the best of which are the Roman amphitheater (which we didn't have time to see), a large gate, and the 1st-century Temple of Janus...

Church Crawling (and a Buddhist Temple!) in Beautiful Burgundy

Posted on June 9, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Last Wednesday we drove a loop north of Mâcon and saw some great churches as well as an ancient Roman temple and a Buddhist temple! We came back with *lots* of pictures; here's a small selection of them. The drive was, as always in rural France so far, beautiful and easy. There was almost no one on the roads and they were smooth and wider than those in Britain...

A Day Trip to Cluny

Posted on June 3, 2008 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from Mâcon (rhymes with bacon), a fairly nondescript town on the River Sâone in southern Burgundy. We're staying in the Novotel Mâcon Nord, which is just off the A6 freeway. This location means there isn't anything of interest nearby, but it is convenient for making our day trips. The weather has continued not to cooperate with our photography plans, but yesterday we visited some churches anyway...