sat on side of hills

“I tried to hitchhike through Provence, outside Aix, where Cézanne painted, ended up hiking 20 miles but it was worth it …  sat on side of hills and pencil sketched drawings of the Cézanne country, dull red rusty rooftops, blue hills, white stones, green fields, hasn’t changed in all these years … mauve tan farm houses in quiet fertile farmer’s valleys, rustic, with weathered pink powder roof tiles, a grey green mild warmness, voices of girls, gray stacks of baled hay, a fertilized chalky garden, a cherry tree in white bloom (April), a rooster crowing at mid day mildly, tall Cézanne trees in back … etc. just like Cézanne nein? Then a rattly old bus through Arles country, the restless afternoon trees of Van Gogh in the high mistral wind, the cypress rows tossing, yellow tulips in window boxes, a vast outdoor café with huge awning, and the gold sunlight …”

– Jack Kerouac in a letter to Ed White dated 28 April 1957 


arles and avignon and some in between

We started off at the HUGE Arles market. Fruits, veggies, fish, live poultry, flowers galore. It was rather overwhelming, but bright and colorful. We got some olives for our picnic and a lavender plant for the porch. Took a turn through the city. Paid homage to Van Gogh's night cafe, but got coffee down a side street, and overheard a piano practice through an open window.

With some market treats, and baguettes, we headed to Abbaye Montmajour for another picnic, starting to make our way back north.

Stops to walk near the Roman aqueduct and Daudet's windmill near Fontvielle.

Final stop, Avignon on the way...

A stroll through the walled city just before dusk.



We rolled out early, while the sky was turning pink, but not to go home. Provence is too beautiful to leave just yet, even though the lavender, poppies, and sunflowers aren't ready to paint the fields yet. We headed south to the cost to visit Pont du Gau Ornitholigical Park. 

Early fog and dew.

Flamingos! We thought we might have to look hard for them, but here they are. Hundreds of giant, honking, pink birds summering in southern France.

They were so comical to watch. We spent a few hours walking the trails at the ornithological park and watching the flamingos comical interactions.

Picnic #1: Quiet roadside

Picnic #2: Under Le Beaux


Perfect timing for beautiful light in this calm little village. I love this photo of Derek.

Mauve-tan roofs.

We found a nice restaurant and decided to stay for dinner...so good.

The end of another beautiful day. I guess we might actually have to head back tomorrow.


sunny provence

View from Le Beaux, above. It's a beautiful, warm day in Provence. Starting out the day with a hot shower and breakfast at the hotel.


Up to Le Beaux and a visit to the Chateau.

Shackles, trebuchets, rams, tossing intruders off the castle walls.

A peaceful view of Midieval life.

Checking out a few tourists shops in town, lots of soap and lavender, and a stop for a pitcher of wine. 

Next stop, Saint Remy.


Mmmmm, noisette coffee and crepes with chantilly at a sunny cafe...someone looks happy.

Now for a stroll though the olive groves and Van Gogh country.



We left our friend this morning, tossed our bags in the car, but it was too nice of a day to be on the road just yet...so we walked around Bilbao. Had some breakfast, a few local treats, coffee outside by the river. Window shopped Spanish boots. Until finally we had to leave to be able to check into our hotel outside Arles before 10 pm.

Driving beside the Pyrenees along the French-Spanish border:

Miraculously, we turn-up the long driveway to our hotel just minutes before the desk closed. Ready to explore Provence tomorrow and finish the drive home.


san seb and the gu

Finishing our time in San Sebastian with some wandering under the blossoms.

Group photo:

And finally, we did make it to the Guggenheim...although the whole second floor was closed. Yup, another Gehry building- lacking a bit in gallery space and completely disorienting, but a fun time.

And an incredible wing of Richard Serra. It was like a giant art playground, once you stop feeling like you are about to get crushed.


san sebastian

San Sebastian. But first, beverages on a bench and a bridge in Bilbao:

After a kinda rough bus ride (it was fast and hilly, and I don't do so well on buses nowadays), we arrived in San Sebastian and found the beach, gardens, and lots of Springish sunshine.

Love the colors and light.

Relaxing, overlooking the Bay of La Concha:

Topping the night off with tapas in the Parte Veija:



We got an early start, walking though Nimes in the still dark, while the shop keepers swept the streets from the mess of the just-ended parties. I kept nodding throughout the car ride, but we made one brief stop to admire Carcassonne from a distance.

We arrived in Bilbao in the afternoon and walked around the Guggenheim before happening across more of our group making their way to the hotel, just arrived from the states.


on the road

After a slow morning, packing, a little cleaning, we finally started on our way to Bilbao, Spain. Driving through the French countryside is beautiful, vast fields, orchards, and tiny towns scattered on the hillsides. We arrived in Nimes in the late afternoon to walk around the city and spend the night to get an early start on the main leg of the journey tomorrow morning.

Nimes, Roman amphitheatre, the best preserved Roman arena in France:

Around town:

Le Cheval Blanc hotel and amphitheatre view from our window:

We walked through the Jardins de la Fontaine and up la Tour Macne just before sun set.