June 23, 2011

En Provence | Trip to Southern France 2011

This past weekend we took a side trip to Provence, in southern France, to tour the countryside see vineyards, lavender fields, and to see some of the sites that inspired some of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings.
As with the last post this one will go on so I have broken the content up so viewers can skip to their favorite part.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 | BACK TO TOP

We stayed in a charming hotel to the east of Arles, Fr., called Auberge du Mas de la Feniere-Arles. The accommodations were quite to our liking as we left Geneva on a rainy night and had to navigate the backroads of Provence via GPS.

A young boy runs around the courtyard fountain at Espace De Van Gogh in Arles, France. The hospital site is where the ailing artist convalesced after cutting off part of his ear.

Once we found the hotel we had to go on a scavenger hunt to locate the key to our room. The innkeeper had hidden it under a ash tray at the front door.

While driving there I did make a snarky comment about the decorum of the town adjacent to the hotel. It was something about the town "being a dump", I was in a state it was late and somewhat over tired from driving in the dark and raining. Once we found the hotel and were settled I managed to calm down.

The next morning we went to Centre Ville (The Center of the City) to plan our day. We went to the spot where Van Gogh painted his famous "Cafe at Night" and ate lunch across the street. Danielle had the equivalent of a Ham and Cheese sandwich, I went with the Hamburger Au Cheval, which I'll get to in a bit. The plate featured a patty with an egg sunny side up and no bun.

Danielle performs one of her many athletic jumps while on vacation at the Coliseum in Arles.

After lunch we visited the Roman Coliseum in the city and an Art Museum then toured Espace de Van Gogh, which was a hospital where he convalesced for a time. As the day wore on we decided to hit up a town to the east of us called St. Remy, another spot where Van Gogh spent time for treatment.

Upon our arrival we stumbled into a Olive Oil shop where we tasted, that's right, tasted multiple oils. "Fruity Green and Fruity Black", in her best English accent said the girl at the counter while explaining the differences between the two kinds of oil we were tasting. Apparently the "fruity green" is made from less mature olives and the "black" made from more mature.

We walked away with a bottle mostly due to the fact she was such a good salesperson. She also gave us some sound advice about places up the road to check out.
We found the hospital at St. Remy and saw some of the exact spots where Van Gogh painted some of his most recognizable works. There were gentlemen up the hill a ways painting the olive trees and area surrounding that featured mountains and an old home place.

On the ride back from St. Remy I noticed a sign for Cavaillion. I asked Danielle if Cavaillion was the french word for horse. She said Cheval was the french word for horse. Then I got to thinking back to lunch and what I had ordered. Hamburger Au Cheval, so I gasp and told Danielle that we must have eaten horse for lunch.

Danielle made me swear I would never tell anyone about the fact we had eaten horse meat. Later I would look on the internet and find that Hamburger Au Cheval is just a term they give for a hamburger (beef) patty with an egg on top.
Back at the hotel we enjoyed a three course meal that featured salad a roast, beef of course, with potatoes and carrots and an amazing fruit dessert with mint and 8 types of fruit.

Friday, June 24, 2011 | BACK TO TOP 

Working paddle wheels were used in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to provide power for Silk and Paper manufactures in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today was a fantastic day. We started out around 9 a.m. to visit a town east of Arles called L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It is situated along the Sorgue River and features paddle wheels and little river-side cafes. It was one of the more quaint non-commercialized towns in Provence.

After lunch we went on a spree of visiting small towns it seemed like a whirlwind but we were trying to kill time until the big photo shoot. We visited Bonnieux, Lacoste, Menerbes before heading back to Gordes, where I had seen the potential for some nice photos. We also wanted to check out Abbaye Notre Dame de Senanque, because I had seen some post-cards with lavender fields in front of it.

Danielle takes a short respite in Bonnieux before we head out for Gordes.

We drove around for a few minutes when we made it back to Gordes looking for a place to put on Danielle's wedding dress. She is such a trooper we ended up in at an Architecture firm's parking lot and just pulled her wedding dress on over the one she was wearing then she wriggled out of the existing attire and presto I was driving a real princess around Southern France, highlight of my day!

Some people looked and gave thumbs up, others with children pointed her out and I'm sure told them that she was a princess or an angel.

Once we made it to the spot where I thought we could get some work done, aka take a nice photo, there was some toolshed going through his photos on his phone in the exact spot where I needed Danielle to stand. He looked as if he hadn't brought an extra card and was editing photos in camera and making room to take a photo of the city down below.

After 5 minutes of that and two of canoodling the woman he was with they finally parted like the Red Sea.

Did I mention the wind was blowing 100 mph. It actually worked out better that the wind was blowing otherwise we would have needed creative ways to make her veil move around.
I made sure Danielle had plenty of bobby pins in her veil clip because I could just see that thing flying over the edge 100 ft below.

Finally after 4 years, 4000 plus miles and 8 days we were ready to do something we told each other we were going to do at our 5 year anniversary. I pressed the shutter down and looked on the back of the camera, stunning. Nothing I did, just was amazed at how beautiful my subject was.

Another 100 or so shutter accuations and I thought I would let her have a look.
She liked the ones where she wasn't smiling. The hard light made the photos have more of an edge and I agreed we did a few more with no smile then moved on. (Note: When these photos were shown back in Louisville, Danielle's mother pointed out all the wrinkles in the dress that has been in a box for 4 years. Thank you Cheryl!)

Earlier in the day we had been to the Abbey and saw there were brilliant lavender fields in front of the property and wanted to go back to check them out. As we descended the hill into the valley from Gordes to my dismay the sun had dropped too low and there was no light on the Abbey or lavender fields

We decided to come to Provence over Paris because, A., neither of us had been to Provence, and she wanted photos in a lavender field. Which I now understand because they are beautiful and smell amazing.

Luckily there was a perfect little field higher up the cliffs before the Abbey that we saw on the way down. We drove back a dirt road and came to this perfect field as if it were made just for us. No one to bother us, except the gale force wind whipping about.

We shot a variety of poses amongst the lavender, then left to find another cool spot as the sun was now going down very rapidly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011 | BACK TO TOP

On the way back we stopped along the way to take a few photos. This view from the road shows Le Percy a small town outside Grenoble, France.

We left our wonderful hotel at Arles and started back to Geneva in the morning and took the long way back.

Danielle was over the traffic jam after about 10 minutes.

We drove through the mountains and little towns along the way. At one point I totally forgot we were driving 250 miles out of the way to get back to Geneva.



Gary Cosby Jr. said...

Beautiful pictures my friend, actually friends! Danielle looks great and you did an excellent job with the photography part too. Hope you had a great trip!

Chosen One said...

Oh My Goodness! Just absolutely AWESOME! Elaine

Emily Furtsch said...

i've been waiting to see these! they are so beautiful. danielle looks great and your photography, as always, is perfect. thanks for sharing jp. i love the ones in the field of lavender.