After the rain comes the sunshine. Non-stop for a week until today. But useful to have a quiet one – time to repair a broken fly screen on a window cassette. It appears they were deisgned to be easy to fit if you have three hands and arms. But succes means I save money -no new cassette needed and if we ever replace one I can fit it myself.
We have toured around now and seen some super places, some needing re-visits. Arles is terrif, Avignon better. We did the Papal Palace which is well shown if a bit bare. Grand though and must have been quite sometuing back in the 14th century. Also got the cross river view of the famous bridge – some very good pictures despite s=dullish day. Bit of a shock to discover what a huge bridge it once was. The Rhone here is split into two major flows and the vestige of a bridge reporesented a multiple bridge crossing two huge streams and the intervening island. Nothing remains on the island or in the second stream of the bridge although Villeveuve des Avigon on the opposite side retains the guard tower that controlled that end of the bridge. It was also interesting to find that its fam,e via the eponymous song is not really the point – for about 400 years it was the only connecyion between the northern territories of “Gaul/Franbce/etc” and the critically important Rhone Delta and the Camargue lands. It joined east and west parts of the French land mass at their southerbn end. Next bridge up was some way and there was nothing below it.
We have seen and will re-visit the Roman city of Glanum at Remy de Provence. Dito the amazing deserted hilltop town of Baux de Provence which also has a rather touristified chateau. And there are a dozen super villages and chateaux besides. Will keep us busy way into week three here.
I think I have said this is essentially aDutch site, albeit run by French (exceptionally charming people btw). Thus I am serisouly wondering again if learning Dutch would not nbe more useful thah continuing to improve my French... Reference to which gives me a chance to be pleased – most of the time I no longer laboriously translate into English – I am getting most of it first time! And I am getting better are hearing and even better understanding the French when they speak to us. Way to go but great strides and vocab ws never a big probloem so here's hoping some of the grammar will start to stick (fat chance, Woods says the voice of 'Beaky' Davis!).
The French are famous for their public holidays and this month is a corker. After Labour Day (May 1) has come VE Day (yesterday) and Ascension Day (today). Whit |(Pentercost) comes soon. Yesetrday, quite forgetful of these facts we headed for the coast for a change. So did eight million French people. We all seemed to get toArles and then join the queues for the car parks in Ste-Maries-de-la-Mare 23 kilometres further on. Down a long and winding road with NO WAY BACK! And at the aforementioned town of the multiple Marys we found out why – it was some sort of carnival day! One reason for visiting was that this is the place where those of limited logic or easy persuasion believe that the Marys of the Christ story landed when they wescaped Jeruisalem in AD40 in a boat. Ok so there was I think a major Jewish revolt about that time, cruelly put down by the Romans. But... The Marys in question are the Magdalene, the alleged whore who made good, a cousin of Jesus, Martha of the canaan miracle and both the other miraclous cures – Lazarus and the blind man. Advise if you know better. We just find the entire story so wonderfully bizarre that visiting the alleged landing ground for this invasion of the righteous was too good to miss. Which we did, owing to the crowds.
Tomorrow will be interrupted by the weekly need to buy stuff but improved by visiting one of the many excellent markets hereabouts which have an uncanny knack of emptying our wallets!