Day 12 – Sunday 19 June 1994 – Chateauneuf du Pape, Avignon, Arles, St Remy and Les Baux

Not too bad a night at the hotel.  Shower forceful as usual but handheld as usual.  At least it was in our room.  But no toilet in our room this time.  That was shared and down the hallway.  Thank god also no bidet in the room.

Sunshine was gorgeous as usual.  We were out at 9.15am sitting outside a cafe in the sun having a café.  Wonderful! Had a sumptuous breakfast of strawberries, bananas, muesli and yoghurt while we did our washing.

Headed off to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Most famous Provence red wine made there. Delightful village.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. The village lies about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the east of the Rhône and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of the town of Avignon. In the 2012 census the commune had a population of 2,179. A ruined mediaeval castle sits above the village and dominates the landscape to the south. It was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon. None of the subsequent Avignon popes stayed in Châteauneuf but after the schism of 1378 the antipope Clement VII sought the security of the castle. With the departure of the popes the castle passed to the archbishop of Avignon, but it was too large and too expensive to maintain and was used as a source of stone for building work in the village. At the time of the Revolution the buildings were sold off and only the donjon was preserved. During the Second World War an attempt was made to demolish the donjon with dynamite by German soldiers but only the northern half was destroyed; the southern half remained intact. Almost all the cultivable land is planted with grapevines. The commune is famous for the production of red wine classified as Châteauneuf-du-Pape Appellation d’origine contrôlée which is produced from grapes grown in the commune of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and in portions of four adjoining communes (Wikipaedia).

Sampled wine.  It was great.  Bought half a bottle for 34F. Walked up to a ruined abbey.  Great views.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape – view from abbey on the hill.

Back down in the village we had a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape red wine in the beautiful gardens of La Mere Germaine bar and restaurant.  Had a dish of delicious olives to go with it. Broke my heart that we were too full to eat lunch there.  Want to go back.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape – La Mere Germaine bar and restaurant where we sampled wine and ate olives in the garden overlooking the gorgeous town in the sunshine.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape – view from the garden of La Mere Geramaine bar and restaurant.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Janine sampling wine in the garden of La Mere Geramaine bar and restaurant.

On the way out of Châteauneuf-du-Pape had to use one of ‘those’ toilets in desperation.  One of the most disgusting experiences of my life.  Standing in a toilet bay the size of a shower bay with crap and toilet paper everywhere.  How can these be a good thing??  Ran out shrieking back to the car where i changed clothes and wiped myself down with Wet Ones.  Yuck!!  Doubly traumatic to experience it in such a beautiful village and after such a nice experience.

Drove to Avignon.  Waste of time. Read that it has the third highest crime rate per capita in France.  Very seedy.  Full of tourists.  A walled medieval city.  Tried to do a  walk out of the Collins book but got lost.  Not much to see anyway.  Couldn’t wait to get out.

Avignon – Palais du Pape

After Avignon drove to Arles to see Van Gogh territory.  Nothing left.  Another seedy town.  Avignon felt dangerous.  Arles was just yucky.  Saw a nearly completed amphitheatre (Les Arènes). Not bad.  Walked around a bit then left.

Arles – Les Arènes

Arles – Vincent Van Gogh postcard – Starry, Starry Night painting and le café-terrasse de nuit 1888
Arles – Vincent Van Gogh post card – Le Pont Langlois

Drove to St Remy where Van Gogh was in the asylum. Lovely town, walked around looking for accommodation but a bit expensive.

Drove through Alpilles (little alps) to Les Baux to have a look.

Found accommodation with a pool for 210F.  Lovely house.  Room feels luxurious.  Has got a nice shower! No toilet.  That was another 35F.

Les Baux – Mas de la Fontaine
Les Baux – Mas de la Fontaine

Walked up to a ruined castle city. Absolutely gorgeous.  Whole village is very neat and proud.  Every corner and nook was beautiful. Views great. Very Van Goghish. Olive groves etc.

Les Baux-de-Provence is a French commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of the province of Provence in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France. It has a spectacular position in the Alpilles mountains, set atop a rocky outcrop that is crowned with a ruined castle overlooking the plains to the south. Its name refers to its site: in Provençal, a bauç is a rocky spur. The name bauxite (Aluminium ore) is derived from the village name when it was first discovered there by geologist Pierre Berthier in 1821. The inhabitants of the commune are known as Baussencs or Baussenques. It has been named one of the most beautiful villages in France and has over 1.5 million visitors per year although it has only 22 residents in the upper part of the commune and 436 for the whole commune.

Orange to Les Baux from the original map
Orange to Les Baux Google maps 2017

Day 13 – Monday 20 June 1994 – Aix-en-Provence!