The Grand Canyon of Europe and other discoveries
Trip Start Aug 16, 2010
26Trip End Ongoing
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Afterwards I went grocery shopping for the first time. The grocery stores here are so cool. Almost all of the cereals have chocolate in them, sweet! There is an entire isle (both sides) of yogurt. And another is devoted entirely to chocolate, cookies and chocolate cookies. On the healthier side there are lots of juices, meats, fish and every kind of cheese you could want
Friday I did some more aimless wandering. I found what I think were some authentic Roman ruins. They seemed to have been turned into somewhat of a park, but I’m not sure. The gate was locked but the fence was easy to jump. So I did. I took some pictures, so anyone with an eye for archeology, (aka Dad), take a look and let me know if you think this is real. Along the way I saw severl street performers. Nothing new, I just don’t think I’ve mentioned them before
Then this Saturday we left at 9:00 for a trip to the Gorges do Verdun. The Gorges are apparently the largest canyon in Europe. We stopped at a little village and grabbed food for a picnic at the market. I also bought a cheap pair of board shorts from a vendor at the market (I left mine in CA by accident). Then proceeded to the Lac de Ste. Croix. After having a delicious lunch on the shore of the lake, consisting of a baguette with goat cheese, (fromage de chevre), organic grape juice and an almond tart (all fresh from the market), several of us put on our swimsuits and went swimming in the lake. It was a bit cold due to the strong breeze but very refreshing. Afterwards we all loaded back onto the bus and rode up into the canyon. It was breathtaking. I wish we could have seen more of it
After stopping for some photos we headed back down the canyon and to the village of Moustiers-Ste-Marie. Another cute old medieval village in a country full of them, this one is notable for several reasons. Between the two large cliffs that are the backdrop of this town is suspended a man-sized gilded star. According to legend it was placed there by a knight fulfilling a religious vow upon his return from the Crusades. Up innumerable steep and slippery steps (slippery because the marble has been worn smooth by thousands of pilgrims over the centuries) we climbed up to a little chapel, Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, perched way up in the ravine between the two cliffs. Apparently several miracles have happened in and around the chapel, and there are several well worn trails that go seemingly to nowhere but little caves and such. Perhaps where people used to go and pray or where some of the said miracles are supposed to have occurred? No idea but they did have some spectacular views. Along the path up to the church were some ancient oratories and the 12 Stations of the Cross
After leaving this village we stopped at a lavender farm, where a cute French lady with some effort explained to us how her family farm worked. She explained the difference between lavender and lavendaine, (a hybrid that produces more essential oil than lavender) and how the process of growing the lavender and extracting the essential oil works. Unfortunately the harvest was a couple weeks ago so we didn’t get to see the purple fields that are in all the books and postcards. Afterwards we all climbed back on the bus and headed back to Aix, where I promptly went straight to sleep.