The Provence, August 2018
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For these few days of rest in the south near Salon de Provence, I take you on the tracks of my childhood, cradled by Marcel Pagnol, Frédéric Mistral, Alphone Daudet. Some are only known in Provence but we study them in high school. Read “The Letters of My Mill”, you will laugh as I laughed, young, with the “Cucugnan’s Cure” or “Tarascon’s Tartarin”. Also read Marcel Pagnol: “Marius”, “Caesar”, “Panisse”, “Monsieur Brun the teacher”, “Escartefigue”, and especially “Fanny”. You will discover what it means in the south, “Kiss Fanny”. Many of these novels have been scripted.
First, some images of Salon de Provence celebrated by the Patrouille de France but also the French aerobatic team. Who does not know Michel de Nostre-Dame, better known as Nostradamus. You must surely know the prophecies, the “Quatrains” of this man whom Catherine de Medici met at Salon-De-Craux (former name of Salon de Provence). These Quatrains have traveled the world but no one is really able to understand these prophecies before the arrival of certain events. Less known in the hexagon but famous in the south, Adam Craponne who is at the origin of the Craponne Canal, which allowed to irrigate the Crau with water from the Durance.
I first take you to Marseille, a city of many colors and many nationalities, the gateway to trade in the Mediterranean Sea and French colonies. The Château d’If, emblematic place of Alexandre Dumas’s novel “The Count of Monté-Cristo”. She served many years as a prison. If you go there, listen, and listen, you may hear Father Faria talking to Edmond Dantes. I will not forget by Notre Dame de la Garde overlooking Marseille, patron saint of fishermen. Nicknamed “the Good Mother” (“La Boueno Maire” in Provençal), it is a basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is erected on a peak 149 meters above sea level and dominates the harbor of Marseille. She is the patron saint of sailors.
Then we will go to the Provençal Venice, Martigues, a city built partly on the water. She is the passage between the Etang de Berre, largest pond “natural” of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Bird Island is beautiful. You can also admire the traditional boats of the pond where you used to fish and bathe. Today, the bathing begins to be allowed again on certain beach like Ranquet or Varage. Hush !!! Otherwise my childhood friend, Laurent, may blame me for giving this address …
Starting from Martigues, you will be able to pass by the small village of Saint-Miter-les-Remparts, fortified city, located just next to the archaeological site of Saint-Blaise.
Direction Istres, do not hesitate to take the road of Au-Delà, towards Saint-Chamas. This winding road winds along the pond of Berre with superb views. It is surrounded by pines drawn by the mistral fort which blows regularly.
You will arrive near Miramas-le-Vieux, a small medieval village, anchored on a hill overlooking the pond of Berre. The houses are renovated over time: old stone houses, a fabulous panorama of Provence 360°. You will find the charm of the villages of Provence.
Then, Saint-Chamas, a Roman city on the edge of the pond of Berre. The entrance is magnified by a Roman bridge that passes over the Touloubre and troglodyte houses enthroned on the Baou hill facing the pond.
North direction now with the Eyguières road. You can admire the Alpilles, the olive groves, the vineyards. Eyguières, a prehistoric city. You will fall in love with a small place where it is good to drink pastis. The church is not the original one. It remains simple externally but a magnificent organ throne in its interior.
Let’s go back to Vaucluse. It’s true, we are no longer in Provence but in the county of Venaissin, famous for its wines including Mont-Ventoux, essential step of the Tour de France. Let’s stop then at Pernes-Les-Fontaines, with its many fountains. If you are lucky, there is a truffle market, because the truffle has a significant share in Pernes ..
Continue to Les Alpilles, the original landscape of white limestone rocks. These rocks have been shaped by the mistral and give surprising sculptures. the Baux-de-Provence are unavoidable. In this summer, tourists are too many to see the castle. Young, we came regularly to eat ice cream and / or drink a beer on one of the terraces under a sun of May or June.
Then Saint-Rémy de Provence, a Roman city whose site Glanum worth seeing. You can also taste very good grape varieties.
And finally, I could not close this tour of Provence without the horses, omnipresent in Provence and especially in the Camargue.
A long text but I like telling places. Let us make way for the photos which accompany it.