Monday, May 18, 2009

La Provence

When I left France the first time, the only practically unexeplored region was Provence. I had already seen a large part of the West Coast, the Center, Paris and if you count Mont St Michel as being part of Normandy, that was ticked off the list as well. So the only thing of interest left for me to see at that point was La Provence.

Straight out of a Cezanne painting, that's how I imagined it. Tall, scorched with sun - white mountains, fields of wheat colored with red poppies. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters, it's fields of gold and Cypher trees haunt my dreams. I had to see the lavender fields with my own eyes. La Provence was like an illusive mirage, the opportunity to visit this corner of France never arose.

Until last weekend when I made a (very) long trip for a very good friend's wedding, near Aix-en-Provence. And the pictures that came alive before my eyes were not dissaponting, though different from my imagination.

Let's start at the begining. In Bakov nad Jizerou, where I never imagined I would end up but where I'm spending my weeks for now. We left by car, driving through the Czech Republic and Germany, to France. A 9 hour trip I have nothing interesting to say about, maybe because it's not the first time I take this trip and the novelty of it wore off a while ago. An enjoyable trip every time, nice scenery, good roads most of the way (although the germans keep working on those highways and it gets pretty annoying after a while). It's really a pleasant trip.

Next evening we took a night train to Marseille, the gate to France for so many people (la goutte d'or). And now you're expecting some nice description about it... Well, it's a bit like Bucharest only dirtier and with better scenery, sort of... Marseille has mountains in the back drop. Two views from a friend's flat.

Aix en Provence though, is something special, imposing arhitecture, fountains in every square as the city was a spa in roman times, and loads of tourists. And of course the famous Cours Mirabeau. Wewalked around the down town, sat at a cafe in one of the many squares, listened to music and then we left for the hills around the town.

La Provence... well it was different from what I had imagined, mainly because it rained a lot this year, so everything was green. But the cypher trees were there, and the poppies, and the mountains were sun drenched as ever. And there was the faint smell of lavender in the warm evening air.

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