Natasha: Provence

January 25, 2009

Yesterday our programme organized a day trip to see some of the historical sights of Provence, namely the ones it would be hard for us to get to on our own. We piled into two buses and headed out on an hour long trip towards Nîmes for our first stop.

The Pont du Gard is part of the remains of the Roman aqueduct system, which was built in the first century AD. It’s huge, and the view both of it and from it is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately because our schedule was so tight we didn’t have much time to climb and look around.

Next up was Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, a small village named for the magnificent waterfall which is the source of the Sorgue river. The water had a fascinating bluish green colour, and the fountains which gave access to the water for drinking tasted so clean and refreshing, I was glad I had brought my water bottle with me and filled it up.

After that we headed towards Avignon and Les Baux de Provence. This is an area that has evidence of life dating back to 6000 BC, as well as the remains of a 10th century castle destroyed in 1632, but the medieval city around has been restored enough to house shops and cafés.

For our last stop we headed towards Arles and the Moulin Saint Pierre, the most famous of the windmills of Fontvielle. Also known as “Ribet” of “Alphonse Daudet’s windmill” it was built in 1815 and was functional until the first world war. It was then restored in 1935 and has since become a symbol of the writer Daudet.

Afterwards we got back on the bus for Montpellier. It had started raining again, and we saw an amazing rainbow out the window… Biggest I’ve ever seen. However, the wind had also started picking up, and for literally miles there were semi trucks on the side of the highway, told to stop because closer to the Spanish border the winds and rain were so strong that trucks had tipped over. I heard later on the news that at least 15 people had died in Spain and France because of this storm, which didn’t hit Montpellier with full force but I could definitely feel on my walk home. I saw a dumpster blown out into the road!

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