Life on Mars !
Trip Start Jun 18, 2012
68Trip End Apr 05, 2015
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In the footsteps of Van Gogh
We are in the small attractive town of St Remy de Provence. Famous for two people; Nostradamus, who was born here and Van Gogh, who painted some of his finest works whilst resident in the sanatorium. The camp site is within the boundaries of the town. It is now mid October, whilst the days can still be warm, even hot, the nights are drawing in and getting cooler. Only the battle hardened motorhomers remain. Monsieur wishes he has Nostradamus at his side as he reverses into an emplacement accompanied by the sound of chalk on blackboard. He has misjudged the size of the hedge on the drivers side. He jumps from the cab dressed in khaki shorts, tanned and sandblasted, a throwback to the desert rats of the North African Campaign. Mein Gott, schicklgrubers, Sacre bleu!!
Monsieur is mentally cataloguing the damage to the motorhome since leaving Blighty at the start of the campaign four months ago. Metal arms to awning destroyed in l'orage - Fronkles July. Lockable cap to water tank lost - somewhere near Obernai, July. Light above cooker - smashed by Madame whilst over vigorously sweeping - Italian Riviera, August. Now this. Monsieur tries to think of a situation when all this damage could believably have occurred at the same time and put in a claim for the lot. "They'll never buy it" he muses and adds T cut to the shopping list.
I have mixed feelings about these urban campsites. For the most part of any walk, I have to be on a lead. We decide to visit the market in the centre which happens every Wednesday. I enjoy the smells of a thousand years and pee against most lamp posts and buildings. Monsieur can be very impatient, "Bruno, how many times are you going to cock your leg? Do you have reserve tanks? What's so interesting about that wall?!!!" Monsieur does not appreciate the complexities of a dogs life. The french do, they have installed a warm shower just for me at the campsite!!!
Madam et Monsieur befriend an english woman, Jo, who is bravely holidaying in France by herself in a motorhome. We all travel together to Les Baux a few kilometres south of St Remy. There is a permanent exhibition of Van Gogh's work in huge caves that have been formed by man excavating soft limestone in the past. Both Van Gogh's and Paul Gaugin's works are projected by lasers onto the ceilings, floors and walls accompanied by classical music. As usual I'm not allowed in, but the experience must have been a little disorientating as the three stagger back to the motorhome as though drunk on absinthe.
Life on Mars
I bet geologists love France. The Voges, Jura, Provence, Alpes du Sud, Massif Central, Perigord and the Pyrenees. We have travelled to Lac Du Sagalou near Clermont L'Herault and the landscape has changed again from the limestone of Les Baux. Now red rock formations dominate (iron oxide - Monsieur informs me) with dunes created by the wind. It is as you might imagine the landscape of Mars. Fortunately, Monsieur is not into David Bowie and we are spared.
Thil, north west of Toulouse
We visit Monsieur's oncle John et femme Grace. They take one look at madame and offer her a bed and a hot bath. Madame et moi are in the house before you can say Francois Hollande.
Bruno (Le chien)