More pictures and stories of the South of France, you say? Your wish is my command!
From our base in Arles, we drove to Aix-en-Provence. At their huge outdoor market, I was lured by the siren call of the fromage stand once again. As you can see in the photo, not only were the normal cheeses well represented, but they also carried more unusual cheeses, such as the tome aux fleurs, a cow’s milk cheese covered with flower petals (on the right, below the Morbier with its line of ash in the middle). What is that weird green cheese at the top, you ask? Not made from the moon, but rather using basil to achieve such a vibrant color.
After the market we went to the Fondation Vasarely, where many works of acclaimed modern artist Victor Vasarely are on display. Some art lovers even dressed for the occasion, looking right at home in front of Vasarely’s creations.
After we got our art fix, we headed to Avignon, the famed city of the Popes. From 1309 to 1377, 7 successive Popes called Avignon home, rather than Rome. This, of course, led to massive building projects and “new castles” for these Popes (i.e., Châteauneuf-de-Pape – read more about this very special wine region in my earlier post). The architecture was quite extraordinary.
We were very lucky, as we had a unique opportunity to contrast the hard, angular human construction with a rose festival going on inside the papal palace. These glorious and fragrant flowers made a striking disparity when posed in a 700-year-old archway!
A fun way to see Avignon was by the little tram which chugged through the town, narrowly missing (usually) the walls as it turned sharp corners. As it ran through alleys, we caught glimpses of wine shops, tourist meccas, and trompe l’oeil murals on restaurants and buildings. I saw several places I wanted to visit, and might have jumped out if I’d had more than 6 inches between my seat and the passing walls. Hands and arms inside the tram, please!