Today, we had to say goodbye to Avignon. It’s been a brief, but lovely visit to this very old town. We really enjoyed our stay at Les Jardins de Baracane…the owners’ have an eye for detail, and the rooms were all tasteful and the gardens were lush and beautiful. Obviously, Lena loved having the pool (to herself) and I could sit in the garden and listen to the birds singing all day long. But it was time to head even further south to Les Baux de Provence.
For the next few days we will be driving through France. I’m a little apprehensive about driving in Europe…I drove for 2 weeks in England a few years back and it was nerve-racking. However, in France they drive American style…the driver’s side is on the left and you drive on the right side of the road. So it should be okay. We picked up our rental car and we were on our way to Les Baux de Provence. We decided that we would make a short detour and visit the Pont du Gard…a Roman aqueduct built in about 40 A.D.
This engineering marvel was designed to carry water from springs in the mountains near Uzes down to the city of Nimes (Nemausus to the Romans). Amazingly, the Romans used no mortar…the limestone blocks (some of which weigh 6 tons) were held together with iron clamps and the force of gravity.
The 31 mile aqueduct only drops about 50 feet long its entire length and could deliver about 40 million gallons of fresh water each day to the residents of Nimes. Eventually, the calcium deposits clogged up the arteries of the system and it was abandoned in the 9th century…but the physical structure remains pretty much intact to this day.
History lesson aside…the sun is ablaze in Provence. After hiking up and down steep stone steps at the aqueduct we were sweating bullets. The weather is reminiscent of being in Italy last summer. The heat is intense… with a relentless sun and while lovely…and a relief from the gloom of Paris…it can be daunting. Packing water and taking lots of breaks is the only way to deal with it.
So…the next portion of our trip is the splurge…the really relaxing vacation part of the trip. We will be staying in Les Baux de Provence at the Hotel Benvengudo. It should be very nice.
As we drove south from Avignon, the landscape changed, and we finally saw the fields of lavender and sunflowers. It wasn’t long before we reached our destination, and it did not disappoint.
We entered the gates, along a lavender-lined drive to the hotel. The setting of the hotel is lovely, amongst olive tree groves and with the stone-topped Alpilles mountains as a back drop. We dropped off our bags and headed to the pool to cool down.
We knew from our research back in the cold, dark days of January that the in-house restaurant was quite good, so we were looking forward to our meals. After getting dressed for dinner, we headed down to the garden for an aperitif and a chance for Lena to practice her cartwheels.
The setting for our dinner was amazing, and would have made even a meal of an ordinary sandwich taste 100 times better…but every detail of our dinner was perfect and delicious. To make the meal even better, tonight was “jazz night” and there was a small group performing all of the classics. We ate our dinner…the band played on…the sun set over the mountains…the cicadas began to sing along…a warm, lavender-scented breeze softly came across the terrace, and so goes another night in Provence.
Tomorrow should be interesting…we are driving to several hill towns….which means that I have to drive up winding, narrow, two-lane roads with white knuckles. But it should be worth it. I will check in tomorrow…until then…Au Revoir!