19.09.2013 - 24.09.2013
One of the places high on my wish list for Provence was the Camargue.
The Camargue National Park is flat marsh lands that lie south west of Marseille and Arles. They are famous for the small white horses that have roamed there for centuries and for the local cowboys who ride them. [[camargue]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camargue_horse]. They are also famous for pink flamingos that wade in these marshlands. See romantic heh?
We chose to drive down there on a Sunday. We went through Arles which is in theory famous as the location of some of Van Gogh's most famous pieces like [[this]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langlois_Bridge_at_Arles_(Van_Gogh_series)]. Well Arles is so concerned about Van Gogh that they have none of his paintings in Arles and nowhere are there signposts to the bridge itself which has been picked up and moved by the powers that be so they can claim some tourist connections with Van Gogh. We looked and we looked and we looked and in the end we gave up!!
So on to the real purpose of the trip. Lucky there was another purpose or we'd have been sadly disapopointed in Arles! On to the road down into the Camargue. I was kind of disappointed to see endless ranches with these famous horses all saddled up waiting around for someone to be intrigued enough to purchase a ride on them. We probably saw a couple of hundred of them like that at sooooo many ranches. I must admit I did see a couple of them in the wild parts but not close enough to photograph. Clearly they are much more tamed than I had been led to believe.
Eventually we reached the farthest town in the park Saints Marie de la Mer. Well we got to the outskirts and with every metre we moved we found more parks filled with motor homes and motor homes crawling around the streets. People were everywhere and we couldn't even find anywhere to park anywhere near the water that is the Mediterranean. We got so frustrated we didn't even stop the car just turned around and drove out again. Sadly not a pink flamingo was to be seen either!!! Apparently they're are more an early morning phenomenon and with that many people around no one was going to see anything. So no romantic horses and no flamingos! Not happy Jan!!!
In hindsight our biggest mistake was doing this on a Sunday. But...
We were so cheesed we ended up driving down to Sete which is a fishing town down further south west past Montpelier and on the way to Spain. Just so we could see the bloody Mediiterranean. Turned out to be a LONG drive back and we didn't return till about 8.30 that night. I was faintly mollified but you might have heard words pass my lips about motor homes at some point on the journey!!!!
Not to be quashed our next adventure was to the the Gorges de l'Ardeche. But on our way we first visited the amazing Pont du Gard an ancient roman aqueduct built in the 1st century AD!!!! Built ov the River Gadon it is a beautiful place and again another reminder of the amazing engineering skills the Romans were able to apply to solving ther problems. It was truly stunning, and the river below was beautiful. An entirely peaceful place. We both LOVED it.
So then on to the canyons - the Gorges. They are most commonly and best seen by canoe/kayak and there are apparently some fantastic caving locations in the gorge as well because humans have lived in the caves and drawn on the walls there for thousands of years? But for wussy Owens there was no caving nor kayaking, just photo opps!!! Again stunningly beautiful but also again with the RAVINES on Chrissy's Side of the car on the way back!!! is this man trying to frighten me to death before my birthday or what????? Just not as bad as the ravines at Mt Ventoux. At least we saw something - unlike the Camargue!!
In between we'd also explored Avignon, a delightful town with most of the ramparts from its fortress times still intact. And yes we went Sur la pont d'Avignon. Ho hum! We'd also dined well, after all we were in France, except for the night when the French and their animals went a bit tooooooo far. We kept looking gobsmacked as French people took their dogs on the train, into shops, into toilets, into restaurants, into museums, into hotels for accommomdation with their owners etc etc. But one night we discovered the restaurant cat! Sorry not a cat lover ( just for those who are wondering!). We were disgusted but the French among the diners kept feeding it tidbits so it was up on the arms of chairs etc. Needless to say there'll be no good review for that restaurant on TripAdvisor!!!
Next we're off to Toulouse and Bordeaux and we make some changes to our itinerary.
See you on the next entry
Au revoir. A bientot.