Roman ruins and more wine!
Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
29Trip End Oct 10, 2010
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Where I stayed
We awoke this glorious morning in Provence, Vaison La Romaine, at our home for a couple of days. Yesterday, we left Chamonix early (8:30) and headed back toward Annecy and then crossed some country to reach a rather dumpy little town called Romans-sur-Isere for lunch. We fanned out to find the dirty bathrooms and local groceries, patisseries and restaurants for lunch. We did hit a homerun for lunch in the local place we found. It was 1/2 pizza plus salad greens. The crust was thin and crispy with freshly made light tomato sauce and a liitle melted local cheese. Mine had local tomato quarters (super red and ripe), great sliced strips (very long) of artichoke hearts and sweet red and green peppers. Bob's had a little local thin sliced ham between cheese layers. Both very good
After lunch, we drove to Orange to see an old Roman theater with the back acoustic wall still standing. We happened upon the French Foreign Legion Army band rehearsing there. The sound was incredible. We sat in the old Roman amphitheater and listened a long while. Very pleasant experience. The weather was heating up as we entered the Provence region. We all dozed as the bus sped us toward our next village, Vaison La Romaine.
Once again Joost navigated us through narrow streets in Vaison la Romaine, but we only came to a parking lot in the new town. We walked at a brisk and exhausting pace (with our bags) up the steep hill to the old town where ancient hotel building is located. This area is susceptible to flash flooding and several years ago flooding took out all town bridges except the ancient Roman stone bridge we walked across. The river was far below us and flooded 12 feet over that bridge. We walked up switchbacks of cobblestone streets wide enough for a very tiny car. Our hotel has a pool courtyard and dining courtyard. Rooms have been somewhat updated. Our room is not large but has opening windows overlooking the town and countryside--no curtains.
Last night, we ate dinner in the courtyard of the hotel (outside) and had an excellent group meal
Today, we met in town after breakfast and toured some Roman ruins--very much like Ostia Antica outside of Roma. We had a very cute and very Italian local guide. However, she was French. The umbrella pines and tall cypress trees of Italy have begun to appear. This is a really nice little town and we all want to linger longer. But after the archeology tour, Joost and Chris herded us to the bus to do, guess what, another wine tasting and lunch.
Well, let me tell you all that this afternoon had to be the next highlight moment after Mont Blanc. We drove up into the hills a long way and parked the bus. Then, we were met by our ride up to the vineyard--a small, open red pickup--if we chose to ride. We were in the first load up many more hills. There were 8 of us in the back on short benches (oh, the knees) and Joost started out riding in the front seat but ended up sitting on the window ledge, hooting away. We yelled at everyone who took off walking, poor souls on this hot day. (It was much farther than they thought, we suspect.) We got to the vineyards at the top of the hill and were awestruck by the sweeping view of the vineyards of Provence
Then, we reluctantly visited another hilltop Provencal town (which was lovely but we were tired and wanted to be lazy on the bus), walked around a bit and then we found a tree-shaded outdoor cafe with about 3 tables, a very friendly proprietress and SORBET!! Five of us sat in the shade with our icy lemon sorbet until it was time to leave and we were finally cooled down
Back to home base and we dragged our bodies from the bus, walking through town and up the steep hill. Bought some fresh herbs d'Provence on the way. Found a great tiny restaurant for dinner on way up the hill. We stopped to examine the menu and were told by local (who was American living there) that it was best place in town. Went back to hotel and sat with feet in cool pool and several joined as we cooled down and chatted in this pleasant shady area. This lasted until about 7 PM--the pool is surrounded by flowers and a stone wall and views of the lower town and hills. Quite lovely. Six of us got together for dinner at the place mentioned and we all had typical food of Provence and it was the best we have had yet! We lingered over dinner and espresso until almost 10 PM.
And now I am caught up on this stuff. Tomorrow morning we leave for Viilefranche-sur-Mer. That is next to Nice and our last stop on the tour. Two nights on tour and one extra for us and some others. We have to pay big euros to mail some stuff home to lighten the load. Many tips from others about time in Paris.
Bon nuit (good night). Jean