Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, February 3, 2008

Eleven months ago, Lucy went skiing, whilst I went to the South of France to view the Roman theatre of Orange. She had read the story and seen the pictures, we just needed to find the flight, and as Ryanair were having another day of specials, Marseille was our chosen airport.
The Song
Growing up, there was a song by the Angels, and it went like this
Gimme the sound of the rolling dice
gimme a whiskey, don't think twice
deal me the card that takes my blues away
take me away to Marseille
Now I have always wanted to go to Marseille, just because of the song, but when I looked in to it, everyone said it was a shithole, so we decided not to go. The only thing to do was to get into the shitter that we had hired this week, and drive to a place that I know, and is not far from Orange. Avignon
It's hard to explain what it is about Avignon, but when you see the walls, history just blows you away. Be it day or night, this is a lovely place. We made our way up to the main square, found a cafe and hit the wine. Being France, table wine is sufficient, and being France, moules and frites are the way to go. Once dinner was done, we had a walk around the town, checking out the Palais des Papes. We wouldn't have time tomorrow to go in, but we have done this previously. We also looked at the Pont d'Avignon, and followed the walls. Great place.
We might have been near the Med, but it was cold. A bitter wind was blowing, and when you are in a Roman Theatre, you feel it.
In the Roman world, there are three intact walls left. Turkey, Syria and here. Admittingly, some of the seats have been replaced, but the atmosphere is amazing. It's most probably is the best theatre I have seen, but I will make an effort for my viewers to see the other two.
Down the road is the Arc de Triomphe D'Orange. There are some carvings still on it, but it is pretty weathered. At present, there are some tacky christmas lights attached to it !!! Oh well
Back in the car, we continued on our Roman theme and drove over to Arles
Like all good places, on top of the hill sits a Roman amphitheatre. The French still have bullfights here. It is pretty complete, and everytime I've been here, I can't decide whether I prefer here or Nimes. Next door is another Roman theatre, but at present there is construction work going so we didn't bother going in. There are some baths as well, but they are a little disappointing. One problem with Arles is that it's on the Van Gogh trail so there are always coach loads of tourists. Once we had seen it all, we moved on again.
After we found the hotel, we drove into town. There is a cathedral here to be seen, but it was all locked up. It actually sits on top of a hill and looks more like a fortress. The town is nice, but we were only here for the evening, so we kicked back, drank a load of wine and then died for the night.
Some say that this is the premier walled town in Europe, whilst others say that this is just a town with a huge attraction for tourists. From a distance, they look good. In fact, from close up, they do as well, but once you get inside, it's very disappointing. Maybe I was expecting something like Toledo, but it's just a load of shops and restaurants that are massively overpriced. We walked the walls, which was nice, but there wasn't anything else that interested us, so we drove off.
It was along the way back, and we needed food, the book said it was nice, so we had a look. It took along time to get in through the suburbs to the centre, and in our eyes, we didn't really have the time to fuck around, so we grabbed a panini and moved onto a place, that had Roman ruins.
Lucy was amazed in the change. No longer could you drive around the amphitheatre. I had seen this last year, and hopefully it will slow down the erosion. We didn't go in as we didn't have time, but as for where I prefer, I think Arles town is better but this ones amphitheatre is more fun to climb over.
And then the airport came into view, and our weekend was over.
And Finally
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love the Med, the countries that border onto it, the food, the wine, they know how to live, and I will never tire of it.


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garcow on

Hi Spent some time in the region 2 years ago and really loved it. I was amazed how similar your comments were to my feelings. You should try and see Gordes really spectacular albeit slightly commercial.
How about the Pont du Gard really worth seeing in terms of Roman building 2000 years back.
There is a cute fishing village called Cassiss on the eastern seaboard of Marseille. It unlike so much of the french Med is still cute with the village square boules and a bit of a party atmosphere.

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