In early July three intrepid Anyporters set off to see what they could see in southern France. I was one of this trio, very happy to enjoy the adventures set up by our captain. The Others are already making reports on what we did, so let me try to catch up with this account of just one portion of the trip -- everything from sound and light to a medieval fortress to a haven by the sea ~
Here we go whizzing through the morning countryside, with a pit stop in a small town ~
We were still in lavender country. This picture proves that all things lavender need not be lavender colored ~
Our objective is a hole in the ground -- specifically the quarries that were mined for 2000 years, first for limestone and later for bauxite. They closed in 1935 but found new life when Jean Cocteau filmed his Testament of Orpheus there, and again in 1975 when they became the venue for a magnificent image experience. Kerouac first reported on the quarries and the area here. We eagerly entered the Carrières de Lumières ~
Once inside, the darkness is a disorienting shock, as is the sudden drop in temperature and the sense of immense space. The experience of paintings coming to life as they swirl, move, and fade into something else on the huge walls is fabulous, but hard to convey. I hope this might give an idea ~
It's easy to think that anything would be a come-down after the dazzle of the quarry show, but a trip through the Alpilles provides plenty of drama ~
Last Edit: Jul 31, 2016 21:26:18 GMT by bixaorellana: because why >not< make the title longer?
Thank you so much, Htmb! I really loved that place and wanted to clamber all over it. It was so cool that, even with the hokey (but fun) dramatizations and the many people around, there was still a sense of suspended history and magical solitude.
I'm afraid I just have to show a few more pictures before exiting the Château ~
People filing in to fill the covered viewing area so they can enjoy a "medieval" slapstick comedy ~
The players take the stage. Note the two sword fighters on the far left. They proceeded up that path almost to where we were standing ~
Almost too soon for me, it was time to wend our way down through the village of Les Baux-de-Provence on our way to another wonderful destination ~
Back outside, it's time to take a look around the town ~
An outstanding feature of the town is the Roman coliseum built in 90AD and kept in use until the fall of the Empire in the 5th century. At that time, it became a fortress, with four towers being added. In time the space within the coliseum became a real town, with 200 houses, 2 chapels, and a public square. The area remained residential until the late 18th century. From 1826-1830 the houses were removed and the structure turned back into an amphitheater. source
Dang. Where does one begin? OK, the quarries and ruins are intriguing, sometimes they look like houses built for giants. The church in Arles must be mentioned as well. The facade particularly, that is very, very impressive. I'm quite jealous, which is something a great photo report can't help but elicit.
Very nice thread, Bixa. I'm enjoying our adventures all over again through your photos. When I have explained to family and friends where we went and what we did it sounds like, "first we went here, and then we went there, and then we went....." We really covered some ground, but everywhere we went - every church, gorge, small town, hilltop, mountain - was an absolute treat. Thanks to Kerouac's capable driving and expert trip planning, and your glowing enthusiasm, it was one of those trips of a lifetime for which I'll be forever grateful to have been included.
Super pictures. But St Trophime, where do they keep finding these saints names from. The figures in and on that church are so crisp they could have been carved yesterday, or is it the crisp sunlight that sharpens them.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Thanks, Fumobici, for the best of compliments. Experiencing those places was pretty amazing, as I hugely enjoyed each one and they were all so different from each other. I'll answer in more detail below, in my response to Mossie.
Enormous and eternal thanks to you, Htmb, whose fabulous idea was embraced and augmented by Kerouac, with the two of you generously sharing it all with me. A trip of a lifetime indeed! And yes, I know what you mean about "and then we went ...", which is why I am so appreciating the reports you and Kerouac are making and hoping that mine add to the whole picture.
I particularly appreciate that coming from you, Amboseli, as I so much admire your beautiful photography. I might need correcting on this, but I don't think we partook of anything in Arles, as we were there in the post-breakfast morning.
LaGatta, one of the beauties of Arles is the contrast of shade and the very clear light there.
Thank you, Mossie. St. Trophime was an early bishop of Arles whose bones were re-interred in the church (originally called St. Stephen's) in 972. I guess it was important to advertise that the church had an actual saint's relics. It was an important church in that it was the first stop in France on the Via Tolosana pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Frederick Barbarossa was crowned King of Burgundy in this chruch by the archbishop of Arles in 1178. The church was a cathedral (seat of the bishop) from the early 5th century until the early 19th century. I would say that visiting St. Trophime would be reason enough to go to Arles, as there is more to it than what we saw and the facade alone warrants much fascinated gazing. As for your comment about how crisp the statues are, I noticed the same thing. Remarkably, except for being dirty, they seem to naturally have been in that excellent condition when they were cleaned in 1990. Check out this photograph from 1984: www.wmf.org/sites/default/files/styles/project_gallery_full_size/public/projects/gallery/FRA_Trophime_JPEG_img-07.jpg source
Edited to say that of course that is NOT my photo above, rather one from the World Monuments Fund site. I somehow cannot make it display as a link rather than a full, very large photo. Please check out the source below the photo.
Well, this is embarrassing. We took the most beautiful drive through the flatlands of the Camargue, seeing the white horses and white cattle for which the region is famous. Do I have photos? Apparently not and I know not why. I remember greatly enjoying the scenery, but somehow didn't point the camera out the car window to record it.
At any rate, our destination was the very pretty, if quite beachy, town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where the fortress church of the Saintes Maries de la Mer is located. The church houses a shrine in its crypt to St. Sarah and the town is the site of an annual pilgrimage by Roma, who come to honor her.
St. Sarah shrine ~
Things picked up in the upper church, which is covered in ex-votos to the three Marys ~
Maybe someone can figure out what is being commemorated here. First the full frame of the ex-voto, then close-ups of each part ~
Ever since I daringly (for me) went up to the cathedral's roof in Palermo, I've been sort of a fiend for getting up high and looking out. Kerouac provides many opportunities to do this, as this thread attests. Let's go up the church tower ~
I don't know how I missed this thread when you first posted Bixa. fab report , your photos are stunning. Plus --- some great info here for me next week , thank you. It would be a long day to Les Baux from Narbonne about 2 hours I think it may be a good side trip for us one day.