Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two posts in one week? Really?!

Yes, my pretties. Two posts in one week. I've so neglected this poor blog lately, so why not share more, even though I posted just 5 days ago?

First up today, the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct. According to Wikipedia--so it must be true!--the Pont du Gard once carried 44 million gallons of water a day. The multi-level structure is still in great shape today and is a tribute to great engineering, quality building and probably a lot of slave labor.

Seriously, do you think anything we build these days will look this good in 2,000 years?

And I think this is about the only time we got in front of the camera ourselves during the trip...

Not to be missed, the scenery near the Pont du Gard...

Isn't that gorgeous?

Next up, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. While it's a lovely area, what we really were looking for was the Glanum Arch, another leftover from the Roman Empire.

Our first view of the arch

And from the other side

And if you're wondering what the underside of the arch looks like... well, so was I. So here it is...

Alongside the arch is the mausoleum...

There's plenty online about Glanum. An interesting article discussing Van Gogh's time in this area is here.

The Glanum arch and mausoleum are just a small part of the entire Glanum site. We drove around to look at more of the area. This sign can give you some idea...

If you click on this, you'll see the circular area in the bottom left of the map/diagram. That's the arch and mausoleum.

Lots more France to come! (Bored yet?) :)

Monday, November 08, 2010

La Couvertoirade

Shortly after driving across the Millau Viaduct, which you saw at the end of the last post, we made a stop. La Couvertoirade is a town founded by the Knights Templar. When I was doing research for our trip and learned that a stop there wouldn't take us too far off our route, I couldn't resist. As a history buff, the idea of walking in a town built by the Knights Templar was a thrill. If you're not familiar with the Knights Templar, they were Crusaders, a law onto their own, answerable only to the Pope. For an idea of their view of Christianity and those who didn't toe the line to their satisfaction, think of them as a Christian version of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. These were not nice, tolerant folks, and I wouldn't want to meet any of them. Even so, they are a significant element in European history.

Looking around La Couvertoirade, it's clear that it once covered a much larger area than what now remains. And what does remain standing is made up of parts that were built by the knights and other parts that are more modern (around 500 years old, as opposed to the 800 years for the parts the knights built). Then there are the shops built into some of the spaces, but that commercial aspect doesn't change the fun of walking through this slice of history.

Arriving at La Couvertoirade, one parks in a lot and then walks in. Walking in, the first prominent feature is this...

This is a pretty typical view inside...

See that kinda brown spot in the center of the walk? Here's a closer view...

I'm not sure, but I think he may be an original Knights Templar dog. It's that whole drinking-from-the-grail thing, like in the Indiana Jones movie.

No? Not buying it? Okay, fine. He belonged to one of the shop owners.

A path in one of the original sections

Part of the original fortifications

And if you really want to see the name of the game at La Couvertoirade, 21st-century style, here it is...

What's "show me the money!" in French? :)

Okay, next up, some shots from the south of France!