Sunday, July 23, 2017

Provence: classy and beautiful like it is

Lavender fields were beautiful as expected. But we were not ready for such a breathtaking fragrance, one that our beautiful tulip fields in the Netherlands simply can’t offer.

Cote d'azur? - It’s glamorous Nice, festival Croisette in Cannes, Monaco with its casinos, cabriolets and ladies wearing pearls and diamonds. The provincial South? - Lavender, soap and vineyards.
When you go to a trip armed only by your stereotypes it definitely says a lot of unflattering things about you as a traveler but promises you some exciting discoveries. And all of this is truth. But not all truth.

The South of France in the summer will burn you to the ground if you are so unlucky to have white skin and red hair. But you can always deceive the South of France acting like a vampire in exile (which means hiding from sun whenever it is possible). You also can rent an apartment with astonishing view on bay with yachts, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy your night sitting on the terrace delicately lightened with candles. You keep dreaming about the sun and beach? Weird.

When the storm rages outside the window it's a proper time for a vampire in exile to leave the house and go for a walk. For instance, to pay a visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The Baroness took this amazing piece of land straight out from under the nose of the Belgian king. Then she acted like a true perfectionist replacing an indecent number of architects, made a garden which was a miracle itself in that days spending even more indecent amount of money. Just for living here a couple of months a year. In the winter! (What a clever woman.)

But if a vampire dares to catch some sun she will be rewarded not only with a sunstroke, but with some beautiful views. When you look at these pics you get it why these places have such a well known azure fame.

This is a road along the steep bank. As we learned the locals usually make their jogging here which is beyond my understanding because of the heat and the sharp stones this path is paved with (on the photo you can see its best and most spacious part).

You can see some weird stuff on the beach.

All shades of azure.

Even if you are not a glamorous lady with a dog there is nice in Nice. It is very cozy. There are delicious pies with caramelized onion and anchovies, incredibly beautiful alley Camus (it looks like all the residents of the city spend time here) and an excellent Chagall museum.

I can imagine it is not so easy to confess you are a captain of this ship.

If you want to feel the true power of the luxury accumulated on an area of two square kilometers you need to visit Monaco. Honestly I do not know how Grace Kelly survived here. Anyway the Oceanarium here is something.

The name of this fish is simply Grace Kelly. It got it because it was lucky enough to have the proper dots - just like famous Grace's dress she wore in one of Hitchcock's films had.

Mad bees is swimming!

To see Monaco and die from pain in your eyes.

Seagull on the roof of the Oceanarium in Monaco.
I guess she sends her greetings to well-fed herring thieves from the Netherlands!

Cautious tourists in Monaco take a look at Monte Carlo casino but go not farther than the lobby.

First of all Cannes is the Croisette and the festival palace. Also it was remembered by the delicious apple crumble: ("How don’t you know what it is? - the waiter said with surprise. - I do not even know how to explain this.")  and cinematographic murals.

Anyway the most beautiful thing in Provence is provincial Provence. Villages competing with each other in perfectionism for the careless attention of the traveler. Mountains, vineyards and olive trees. Yachts, ships, boats. And lavender. Lots of lavender. There are even their own Big Canyon, a mountain lake and small fjords which the French for some reason call calanques.
If you go to Saint-Remy-de-Provence where Van Gogh spent a whole year at a local psychiatric clinic it's easy to figure out why he painted a hundred and fifty oil paintings for the year and a hundred more drawings and watercolors. We were thinking that to go mad in Provence is at least stylishly and were surprised to learn that the psychiatric clinic in Saint-Remy is still working.

And again such a beautiful view from our window. The owner of this apartment in Cassis is Buddhist Edith. And you know when you look at this view it's hard not to become a Buddhist yourself, just a little.

This is Aix-en-Provence where Van Gogh wandered a little as well. We liked these shaggy fountains a lot.

When you on such a road you want just keep moving.

Van Gogh languished behind these walls.

And here he was walking. Do you recognize the trees?

The triumph of perfectionism you can see in Les Baux-de-Provence. Its population is only 465 people who mostly spend their time cleaning of houses and paving stones with brushes and soap I guess.

When we’ve been in Cassis we enjoyed a car hiking. You just ride through the mountains from one viewing site to another and admire the views. I love it!

Here they are, the French fjords!

The Verdon Gorge.
If you visit Avignon in July consider yourself lucky. At this time you can not only admire the Pope's palace but also deep into the magical world of the theater. Theatrical festival lasts twenty days with scenic stages located all over the city, performances can be watched for a small fee and even for free. But the most important thing is the posters which you can see everywhere in quantity defies the imagination, common sense and sight.

The Papal Palace in Avignon was built without any worries about space. The dimensions of the halls are indecent.
How good it feels to hide in these walls from the unmerciful sun!

This bridge on Rhone is the most ridiculous bridge I have ever seen in my entire life. It literally breaks off on the half of the river as if symbolizing the futility of life. (Is it worth to continue?)

Of course, it does. Only in my case not in the summer. I would like to come back to Cassis in the spring and get to Calanques National Park (it was closed in those days we have been there because of the threat of fire and we could only admire its view from the boat). I might be even visit the Castle of If where the darling Dantes turned into a cruel avenger Oldboy. And, of course, take a chance to walk along the pedestrian route in the Verdon Gorge. In a word we have a lot to do ladies and gentlemen.

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