Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Avignon to Chateau-du-Pape

We had a quick look at the Papal palace in Avignon at the beginning of our ride to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  We spent 3 days in Avignon at the end of our trip so I will have more pictures later.

Riding out of the main square of the Papal Palace in Avignon - along one side of it.
It was the season for wild poppies (des coquelicots) - they were everywhere, especially along side rail lines, and on the edges of vineyards.



And my favourite vine in bloom - jasmine!
There we are with the tower of Chateauneuf faintly in the distance. 
And here is Robbie in a cellar of very old, very valuable wine.
 The old original Chateauneuf built as a summer residence for the pope in the 14th Century.
 
The

Monday, May 26, 2014

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Arles


The ride through the Camargue was mostly along back country roads and these are some of the sights we saw as we rolled along.

The Camargue is a nature preserve and has been kept in a pristine state.  It is a watery landscape with hundreds of varieties of birds, most famously the flamingos, and home to the white Camargue horses which are no longer wild, but in farms and riding stables.

This was a well-kept farm with many of the ponies, who seemed very comfortable with our attentions.  And below, as we rode by, we espied this rider preparing for a show.
We stopped for a while at the Park Ornithinologique de Pont de Gau which is a reserve, but open so that the birds can fly in and out.  There were many herons and of course flamingos.


Stork feeding it's young. 

We reached Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer under ominous skies.  A pretty little town, but it's fame comes from the legend that the boat with three Marys, one of whom was Mary Magdelene, arrived on this shore in AD40.  It has been a shrine for pilgrims since as two of the Marys are buried here.
  As we arrived in Arles I was not feeling too well so unfortunately missed the tour.  It is a world heritage site that has many Gallo-Roman antiquities. 





Sunday, May 25, 2014

Van Gogh in Arles

The Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles has finally provided Arles with paintings by one of it's most famous artists.  Van Gogh lived in Arles for little more than a year and in that time produced almost 200 pictures and 100 drawings and watercolours - a pace unparalled by any other 19th Century artist. 

Below are a few of the 11 in the collection.  There are other artists exhibited too, but I didn't take pictures of their work.









Thursday, May 22, 2014

A trip to the sea

It was an easy ride from Aigues-Mortes down to le Grau-du-Roi despite the fact that the Mistral was a constant presence - and it didn't seem to matter what direction you rode in! 

the bullring

one of many dinghys

 Did I mention the wind?  The kite surfers were having a blast.  As you can see, lots and lots of condos.
 Looking out to see from the bridge.  Very definitely a working harbour with lots of fishing boats
 
a Camargue flamingo!
 On our ride back we stopped at the salt pans to do a tour in this little train.  Above is a view of the fort at Aigues-Mortes from there.  The pans turn pink as the water evaporates.  And the skies were just magnificent.

piles of salt

Monday, May 19, 2014

Aigues-Mortes

I'm a little slow getting back to writing about the trip!  These are the two barges used by Cycle Tours.  Ours had 15 guests and staff, and the two were pretty independent of each other. 



Entrance to the walls of the city
The town dates back to the 13th Century and was established to provide Louis 1X a Mediterranean port. 
View of the salt pans and piles of salts.
The area around here is flooded to produce salt, for which the Camargue is famous. 


There is a walk that takes one all around the walls.
The view looking down on the town


And in the town there were many restaurants and stores.  This was one of two incredible sweet stores.  The sugared fruits above were a work of art.  Below are bins of chocolate covered almonds made to resemble olives, and coated also with a variety of flavours. 
And these were the biscuits - all shapes and sizes and flavours. 
Many roofs were covered in these tiles.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Marseille

We are just back from a two week trip which started with a few days in Marseille, a week of biking and barging from Aigue-Mort to Avignon, and then a few days in Avignon.  Wonderful weather, and a taste of the Mistral.

Here are a few Marseille photos. 
MuCEM
 This amazing museum dedicated to the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean.  It's a beautiful piece of architecture and the exhibits are beautifully displayed.  To enter from the Panier district is to walk on the dark line that you see connecting the old stone building on the left and the dark one on the right.  You can just see people crossing below. 


 Cath├Ędrale de la Major
 This is a 19th century church built in a Roman/Byzantine style.  Below is one of the arches over one of the chapels.  It is all mosaic as is much of the ceiling decoration inside. 

Some old and some new.  On the left is a scene at the inner end of the harbour and there is a mirrored canopy over a section creating an interesting perspective.  On the right is one of the many winding streets in the Panier district - the old part of Marseille that used to house fishermen and others of modest means.

A view of the harbour with the ferris wheel in the front. 

I hope you will enjoy following along on this journey and look forward to reading your comments.