Week 17 – Provence – where ugly is not an option

  • The drive from Cinque Terre to Menton in France took us through Genoa right past the entry to the collapsed Morandi bridge, (which we should have driven over), and a little later we could see it side on from only a few hundred metres away – pretty scary – the traffic will be a mess for years while they rebuild the bridge or by-pass via tunnels. The media here is going frenetic as there are now reports of multiple bridge collapses and fingers are being pointed at the Mafia, corrupt politicians, corrupt bureaucrats, the EU for their demands for austerity, privatisation of the roads, and all manner of other contributing factors – it will be interesting to see if the Italians can sort out some of their mess.
  • Our first stop in France was a few days in Menton, which sits right on the border with Italy, but is most assuredly French. The roads are all in good order and after a few close shaves, (me driving like I was still in Italy), and some horns being honked at me, I am back in the world of obeying road rules!!
    Menton Harbour from the Cathedral steps

    Our neighbours in Menton – The Riviera Palace – not bad for a summer house
  • Menton is an attractive, if “modern” port town, but the big attraction was a visit to Eze, an ancient hilltop town, now famous for perfume manufacture – we visited the Fragonard factory – the mixture of smells is staggering.
  • On the way back we called into Monaco – the first 3 cars to pass us were a baby blue Bentley convertible, a bright yellow Lamborghini, and a jet black Audi R8 – we knew we were in the land of the mega-rich!! We quickly decided we were well out of our league, (and were not really interested), so after a brief touchdown we headed back to the normality of Menton.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat from Eze. Only the megarich “hang” here
Eze street scene – ugly is just not an option in Provence
  • After two hot days we headed for Aix-en-Provence. We are in a lovely rural house called Le Clos Manoe just out of Aix.
Our new evening hang out – vegetables straight out of the garden
  • Having rested in Menton we were keen to see Provence having only been here briefly in 2003 with two very disinterested children. Our first day, (Wednesday), we went into Aix – a city of about 150,000 and it was love at first sight – a really nice, liveable city – we love it. My favourite thing in Aix, (and the rest of Provence), is the wide avenues of attractive stone buildings framed with beautiful, mature, plane trees. The French keep beautiful things and work around them – pity we in Australia do not operate this way!!
  • Next day we headed for L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. This really is an “Oh, la, la” place. The town is a bunch of islands in the Sorgue river – and the good burghers of the town have created a living picture postcard overflowing with antique shops and interesting alleyways and waterways.
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with Adrienne’s new “Aix” dress
Now this is a water feature
Adrienne went quite weak at the knees when we found the glace fruit shop. Spent plenty and scoffed the lot, (sorry, Bill).
The Town square in front of the Cathedral – the plane trees kept it shady and cool – just what we needed to enjoy a beer
  • Friday we decided to have a nature day so headed for the Camargue, (the huge wetland at the mouth of the Rhone river). Amongst other things it is famous for pink flamingos, and wild Camargue horses and cattle. We did the tourist thing and did a “noddy-train” tour to see the marshes and wild life, but sadly this is not flamingo season, so only saw a handful of stragglers.
Was not impressed that they bred the cattle now for the bullfighting ring, but with the spectacular horns they look the part
The Camargue horses all start out brown and turn white at about 5 years
  • Had the afternoon on the beach and headed for home via Aigues-Mortes. A most impressive castle but what really pricked our interest was the vast array of boats in the canal. We are now planning our “cruise” on the canals, (my dream of a house boat on the Canal du Midi is alive and in the planning. Bill and Di – keep September 2021 free!!)
  • Heart skipped a few beats on the way home – the gearbox in the car went kaput on the freeway, (me playing James Bond at the time may not have helped), and we limped home in 4th gear, (having lost 1st, 5th and 6th). But after some phone calls the next day the car was collected, we were taken in a taxi to Aix, and we now have a hire car at Peugeot’s expense. Peugeot Open Europe handled everything efficiently and quickly – so thankful it happened in France not Italy – we would still be on the freeway in Italy!




4 thoughts on “Week 17 – Provence – where ugly is not an option”

  1. 1. Thanks for the cathedral cake reminder – at least you’ll be back for xmas!
    2. September 2021 locked in…

  2. Pictures are amazing. As you are in Aix-En-Provence a suggestion that you visit Saigon. Adrienne read the Henrietta Taylor books and it’s wonderful to see the little houses she mentioned in them and it’s such a pretty little town up on the hill from Apt (I think if memory serves me correct) anyway I’m sure you can find it. Xxxx

  3. Yes, I recall the Camargue searching for pink flamingoes but like you guys, none to be found.
    So glad you had good news with the car, could’ve been disastrous. Well done Peugeot.

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