Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Europe Road Trip: Post III

Well, Allen should be getting on his plane about now. He left last night on the TGV to Paris, hopefully he got a hotel for the night, and he leaves in about 13 minutes (as of writing this) back to Vancouver. It was quite the whirl-wind trip, but I think that he has found some good memories that will last a life time.

So, we got back to Aix on the 14th, which was Bastille day, and we headed into town to eat. Since it was a bit later in the day, it was getting dark on the way back to the car, and the crowds had gathered for the fireworks show in the middle of town. As we were winding through the crowd, the first of the rockets were launched. So we stood, really close as it was, and watched the rockets and other types of fireworks light up the night. We found it shorter and not quite as nice as the show in St.Julien-en-Genevois, which is weird since it is a much bigger town than St. Julien. Still, it was nice to see.

On the 15th, we headed up to Luberon, looking for Lavender fields, and other places to visit. Our first big stop was Bonnieux, a small medieval town on the side of a hill. Lots of old buildings, and the old church on top. (we stopped going into the churches after Notre-Dame, they are all rather boring!) While looking out over the valley, we saw another town across the way. Turns out that it is Lacoste, and the chateau that is sitting above it was home to the Marquis de Sade! So of course, we had to see that!

A quick, five minute drive and we were parked and hiking up the hill to the top of the town. Seems that all these towns are build on hill sides. The town was very old, and very beautiful, but what struck me was that almost everyone was speaking english! It seems that there is an art and design school there that takes up many of the buildings, and it is full of students from North America. Still, it felt weird having english all around me in a French town.

We got to the top where the chateau was, only to find that it is closed to the public. It appears to be half rebuilt, and that it is now used as a place to put on plays or concerts. It would have been nice to see inside, but I don't think that to be possible.

On the way out of the town, we stopped at a market to find a few last touristy things for Al to bring home. (Al's plane should be pushing back now...have a good flight!) The lady at the market spoke rapid-fire French and I had a hell of a time understanding her. Luckily, there was another girl who spoke a tiny bit of English, so we managed to get what we needed. It was difficult to explain to them that we couldn't take the cheese from the cheese stand back to Canada. I should have bought some for myself, but I already have too much cheese in the fridge.

Next stop was the Fountain of Vaucluse, where I have been before. Last time I was there, the water was almost not visible in the bottom of the spring. A few weeks ago, it was roaring out of the top, over the rocks and boulders that are lying just past the opening. Yesterday, it was about 5-6 meters higher than the last time I was there, but still really low. The river was running much higher though, which made the rapids a little more interesting.

So we walked the tourist path, checking out the shops, taking photos. As we came around the bend, we saw some girls with paint easels, and canvas, painting the river scenes. These were the same girls that we had seen in Lacoste! They had just started when we came by one way, and I was blown away at how much they had done when we came back. And how good they were. Painting is something that I am just not good at, unless it is a barn or something. I will stick to my photos, that I can do.

After Vaucluse, we needed to get back to Aix. Al had his train to catch, and I didn't want him to miss it. We actually got back here earlier than I had though, so we had time to eat and have a nap before heading to the station.

It was nice to have Al here, even if it was a crazy whirl-wind visit. Maybe next time we can take a bit longer, plan a bit better so that we can stay at hostels or in tents so that it won't be quite as expensive. I am scared to look at my bank account, I am sure that there are cobwebs taking hold!


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