Friday, 21 December 2012

From Dust To Dust

Red dust yesterday...white dust today. More laundry coming up
The sun deserted us today as we explored the Alpille region of Provence. Gone were the balmy days in the low teens. I'd never thought I'd ever describe 12-15 degrees as warm but it was compared to the miserable grey and drizzle of today! We started our day at the Carrieres de Lumieres, an old limestone quarry which has been converted into a cultural centre hosting live events, concerts and audiovisual shows. On our visit, the audiovisual show was one which centred on the works of Van Gogh and Gauguin, with their works projected onto the quarry walls and floors set to music. This was definitely something that was unique that we really enjoyed. Descriptions would not serve the surreal and immersive experience any justice! It was like being part of the artworks. It was also a great way to introduce art to the children who watched in complete captivation. Alas, due the nature of the quarry, our red dust covered shoes quickly became that of white dust...

To give you some sort of idea of what it is like inside, I took a photo of the display outside the attraction...

For a sense of the scales involved, here is an area of the quarry that isn't enclosed and that didn't have projections on it

We moved on to Les Baux-de-Provence, the village which gave its name to the aluminium ore Bauxite which was first discovered there in 1821. However, the village was more reknown for its reputation of being one of the most picturesque in France. It was set atop the Alpilles complete with its own Castles ruins. The weather was not the greatest for exploration of castle ruins on the peak. However, the children had been given a treasure hunt to complete so off we went to visit EVERY SINGLE point on the self guided tour. The wind was blowing so hard that at certain points we had to brace ourselves to walk against it. The camera thus was taken out sparingly. I also struggled to keep it still in the wind! Despite the cold and the wet, we had a lot of fun. It was mind blowing to think that so much was carved and built into the rocks over 1000 years ago. And it was in ruins only because of a royal decree to destroy it in the 1600s!

The streets of the village of Les Baux

A model of the Chateaux at the end of the 13th century

The Chateaux and the village at the end of the 16th century

A treasure hunt for the children

Medieval weapons of war which are still functioning

For the medical friends, the couillard, so named because it resembles the testes...

Little clues we were hunting for in the wind and rain

The hospital

What the castle and cave dwellings would have looked like in its heyday

Rooms and storage carved into the stone

Including doorways

Going down into the cellars

The pigeonnier where they kept their pigeons! Some to eat and some as messengers

The view down into the village

The Chateaux Les Baux is the ruins that you can atop the hill

We were going to visit Castellas, an olive oil producer. Their products were available at Woolworths and being a Woolies girl, I was going to scope out the source of my shopping. Unfortunately, no one manned the shop despite the "open" sign so we continued driving towards Saint-Remy-de-Provence the birthplace of Nostradamus and where Van Gogh painted the Starry Night. We entered a restaurant on Malcolm's "I have a good feeling about this". Fortunately for the man, he was right! We all shared the most delicious crab soup and I had the honour of ordering tartiflette, a local dish made with potatoes, cheese, pork fat and onions. Mmmm...all the good stuff! Lunch gave us enough energy for a quick walk around the town. With the weather not letting up, we gave Glanum a miss. This gave us time on our way home to pick up some chains for our journey to the snow. Another quiet evening in...bliss!

Crab soup with toast, garlic butter and cheese

Tartiflette the local specialty

Driving back from St Remy back to Arles

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