Monday, 12 September 2011

A week in Provence

Hello again! We're back from our September Pilgrimage to Provence, and I'm glad to say that it all went very well. What a beautiful part of the world... Unfortunately one of the few blackspots in the week was the fact that I lost my camera on our first day - so I haven't got any of my own pics here.
We stayed at Arles, with its Greek theatre, amphitheatre and memories of Van Gogh, and went on to visit other big towns like Avignon with its Palace of the Popes, Nimes with its amphitheatre, the Maison Carre, the best-preserved temple in the whole Roman Empire, and the famous nearby Pont du Gard aqueduct, and lovely Aix-en-Provence, home of Paul Cezanne, and one of my favourite places of all. 
We also went to smaller places like St-Remy, where I tried ginger-flavoured ice-cream, Fontaine de Vaucluse, (blood orange-flavoured ice-cream), and the hilltop villages of Gordes and Roussillon. A day was devoted to the Camargue, famous for its gypies and flamingoes. We visited its towns of Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where I saw bulls being run through the streets by the local horsemen, and Aigues-Mortes, a lonely walled city founded by St Louis as port of departure for the Crusades.
Each day, of course, we celebrated Mass somewhere appropriate. Four of these were cathedrals or former cathedrals - Arles itself, Avignon, Aix and Nimes. At Les-Saintes-Maries the church and town celebrate the tradition that Martha, Mary, Lazarus and the two Marys from the crucifixion sailed across the Med and landed there. If it's true, that would make it the oldest Christian site in Europe! For many of our group their favourite celebration was at the Cistercian Abbey of Senanque, in a fold of the Luberon hills - just stunning.
It rained on our first day, but after that it got hotter each day until it was pretty scorching in Nimes on Friday. The company was great, as always, enlivened by the nightly ritual of Chase the Ace. On one of the nights that I played, I actually won a round - not to be sniffed at  when 15-20 are putting in 1 euro each...
Anyway, more of the pilgrimage in future postings... as I get back to routine. 
Pics show Senanque Abbey across its lavender-fields, Camargue horsemen and the village of Gordes.

No comments:

Post a Comment