Weekend Trip #3: Avignon, Arles and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Monday, July 6, 2015

Last weekend we traveled down to the South for some time at the beach and some sight-seeing with our group of students.  I have been looking forward to this trip for months, particularly because we had decided a few weeks before we got to France that we would have Fox's first time in the water (besides the bathtub) be in the Mediterranean.  How many American kids can say that?  Anyway, I thought it would be cool.

Back to our weekend trip.  Our first stop was at the Palais des Papes in Avignon.  Avignon is a very touristy town quite close to the coast.  And it's also extremely old and very cool.  The downtown area of the city is surrounded by a medieval wall, and many of the buildings have been around for centuries.  The largest of these buildings is the Palais des Papes, or the Popes' Palace.  The palace was built in the 1300s and is the biggest gothic palace in Europe.  It is both impressive and gigantic!  It was particularly impressive because it was built in only 20 years.

We had a guided tour with a lovely--though short and quiet--tour guide; paired with a sleepy and slightly fussy baby, sadly I heard very little of the tour.  The rooms were very cool though, with some very old hand-painted tile and beautiful, painted walls.  I'm sure in its day, it was the most impressive thing around.  By a long shot.  And honestly, it is still very impressive!  This is the second medieval city that we have been to this trip, and I have decided that I am very grateful to have been born in an age where there is indoor plumbing and deodorant.  I can't even imagine how much everything must have smelled back then...  Anyway, moving on!

We spent the afternoon at the Mediterranean beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which is a small costal town about an hour away from Avignon.  It was so fun to see Fox on the beach!  He was kind of terrified of the water and the waves, but he really enjoyed kicking in the sand and being held on Adam's shoulders in the water!  It was an extremely hot day, but the water was cool and refreshing.  It was perfect!

Ready for the beach!

The next day we drove to Arles, another French town pretty close to the coast.  It has the distinction of housing a number of gigantic Roman ruins (some not so ruined), and was also, at one time, residence to Vincent Van Gogh.  Consequently, over one hundred of his paintings were completed here.  Apparently this particular period was not a happy time for him, as it was the location where he cut off his ear.  However some of his most important paintings were completed here.  

Fox has started smiling for selfies!!  So cute!

 This town looked like you had stepped back in time.  Despite all the tourists, so much of it looked like a set from Les Miserables.  
 A twelve-hundred year-old mosaic.

Fox and I left on a train back to Lyon early on Saturday afternoon, because my parents came to visit us, but Adam stayed and took some amazing photos of some Spanish bull games, in which players tried to pull ribbons off the bull's horns to earn money.  Crazy, but pretty cool!

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