Monday, April 27, 2009

Pont du Gard to Aix en Provence

Due to the deluge yesterday I didn't attempt to go back to Arles to go to some of the places that van gogh painted so we tried again this morning. Caron wasn't interested in the walk so she retired to a coffee shop while I walked around Arles looking for the various places which were painted; some of them I found and some are gone altogether or I just couldn't find them.

On the way there we went past an audi and VW garage and decided to have another go at fixing the squealing. This garage however, spoke no english at all and it was a real battle to understand but it seems that when it was serviced in the UK, the replacement belt was from another model so the tensioner is not where it should be and is rubbing against the timing belt cover and slowly eating it away. According to the mechanic, it will make a noise but it won't break at least that is what I think he was saying! We will see.

This was the garden of the sanatorium which van gogh painted while he was a patient at one time. This was actually taken by Caron the first time that we were in Arles, I think it is better than the ones I took today.

And finally before I bore everyone, the cafe at night. This is the real cafe as it looks today.

While I was walking around I walked past a trio of girls sitting outside a cafe and I had just gone past them when I heard "Hey, he's a south african" which was enough to stop me in my tracks. After a quick conversation I carried on only to be accosted by yet another group and finally after I had finished the photographs I saw another group sitting which I approached to find out more. Turns out they are grade 11's from Rodean and St. Mary's and one of the teachers (Anne Kraus I think) happened to be from St. Mary's and taught with my mother. How is that for a small world!
I must say that it was great to be able to communicated easily; no language barrier and no accents to cope with.

Driving into Aix en Provence, the home town of Peter Mayle we were going to stay at a converted monastery but at 120EUR per night, it was just a little expensive so we ended up a quite a nice campsite next to a fast flowing river. We were both feeling like a little bit of luxury so we decided that in lieu of the night in the hotel, we would get a little dressed up and go out for a good evening meal. Well, as dressed up as one can get while camping. So, freshly shaved and with a collared shirt on and shoes that weren't boots, off we went. We parked underground at the rotunda and when we emerged, this is what greeted us.

We spent about 30 minutes choosing the restaurant and settled on 'Les Deux Garcons' or 'the two waiters' where we had an absolutely awesome meal. I really wanted to have bouillebaissie which was on the menu but you have to order it two days in advance so I settled for a fish soup with rouille. I have no idea what rouille is but it looks like mustard and tastes fantastic, especially with the fish soup. Caron had lamb and artichokes which she demolished in short order. A cup of good coffee and 54EUR well spent. Walking back down the Cours Mirabeau we had this to look at

and all the way along there are fountains in the middle of the road. This, believe it or not, is a fountain.

We had an absolutely fantastic evening and tomorrow, with a bit of luck I am going to see Cezannes' studio. At home, this would be so normal but because our life here is so very different, to do something 'normal' was just really great.

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