Oh gosh… I took a longer hiatus than I meant to! I’m finally back in Madrid after a 3 week trip to France. I’m leaving for New York this Saturday and I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off with all the last minute things I need to get done. However I want to get at least one post written before I leave.
So here we go with the first excursion our group (10 people altogether) took in Provence: Pont du Gard which is an old Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River. My mom visited this place when she studied abroad in France and she told me back in the day people were allowed to walk over the TOP of the aqueduct. And no, there were no safety rails (and my mom somehow crossed it and survived). I guess safety was not a top priority in late 70s France. Eventually people came to their senses and realized this was an incredibly stupid thing to let tourists do. Instead, there is a bridge at the base of the aqueduct which permits tourists to (safely) cross the river and admire the aqueduct from the bottom.
The Pont du Gard aqueduct used to connect a spring located in Uzes to Nimes and was 31 miles long. It is the second best preserved aqueduct in the world after the aqueduct in Segovia (which I have now seen several times). It was built sometime around the 1st century AD and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. It seems most of the aqueduct was built mostly underground–the bridge was built at this site to transport the water over the Gardon River. The whole structure stands around 160 feet.
We walked around a little in the forest surrounding the aqueduct–there are many hiking trails in the area and therefore several different viewpoints to catch a glimpse of the aqueduct.
We finally crossed the bridge and I even ventured into the Gardon River below the aqueduct. There was actually a small beach and many people swimming around cooling off from the heat (oh yeah, because it was in the 90s for at least the two weeks I was in Provence). I obviously stuck to the edge as I waded around since I didn’t have a bathing suit. The water felt so good on my feet! My mother also joined me. Predictably, my father got annoyed, especially after my mother collected a few rocks from the river (called a galet in French) and asked her to put them back. My mother likes collecting things by the sea/river/body of water to decorate our house/her apartment in Boston. Well, my father got in huge trouble that night when my mother learned that my aunt (my dad’s younger sister who was also with us the two weeks) does the very same thing (and her husband allows her to do so).
After Pont du Gard, we had lunch in a small town called Castillon. I tried Wikipedia-ing/Google mapping this town and it turns out there are several towns named Castillon in France. But I ended up finding the right one! It’s full name is Castillon-du-Gard. Note the olive tree in the second picture I snapped behind the hanging potted flowers. There are a lot of olive trees in southern France! (I’ve obviously seen my fair share of olive trees in Spain but they are such beautiful trees.)
In case you are wondering, sans souci means “carefree” or literally “without a worry.” It’s common to say in France, “Il n’y a pas de souci.” This is basically the equivalent of “Don’t worry about it.” And on the last picture, it’s hard to make out but it says “Ecole de filles.” A girls school!
And some of the surrounding view (and in case you are wondering, yes the sky was that blue for two straight weeks):
I don’t know why, but I liked the white gate in the last picture. And thus concluded my first day!
Stay tuned for the St-Remy de Provence market pictures next!
PS. I hate the title I gave this post but I couldn’t think of any other verb that started with P that went with Provence! Prowl is such a creepy verb. I hope to come up with something less creepy!