October 3, Graveson

Posts may get a little shorter from about now. They are keeping us so busy. We’re on the road on our bikes for a good deal of the day. Then, of course, dinner takes a couple hours, and plenty of rest for the next day. We’ll see.

We had been directed to appear not a moment before 7:30 for breakfast, and so we did. I was disappointed to notice there were no little containers of yogurt, which constituted most of my breakfast. It was all white bread, good, yes, but not what I wanted. The two cereal dispensers were the same as my hotel in Marseille, as were the cereals inside. The assortment of cheeses was really good, and there was some very pungent-looking sausage. I passed on that. As promised, here’s a photo of the elegant antique arrangement that constituted the key and lock on my door:HPIM0399.jpg image by zecainfrance

We started our first day on the road with a safety lesson. As I feared, my casual approach to bicycling safety won’t do here, though I appreciated an explanation of the various traffic signs that I’ve never understood. The bicycling touring company, BTI, has an interesting method of using team members to help keep track of everyone, and keep everyone on the same path. So far it works well. Then, saddle up, and hit the road.

We stopped for lunch in a little nameless town that had a supermarket that most of us used for lunch. We didn’t have much time, and worried that a restaurant would take too long. I found a big container of vanilla yogurt-type cheese. I suspect it was full fat and really rich, but it kept me going all afternoon. I had to buy a packet of plastic spoons, so I was able to help the folks out who bought (spoonless) Activa for their lunch. Some fruit from the market, and lunch was served.

I was disappointed to hear that the excavations at Glanum were closed on Mondays. But we were able to visit two splended monuments of Glanum. The first was an amazing mauseleum:HPIM0400.jpg image by zecainfrance There are many more photos of this that I took on my photobucket site. Check them out. Then, the next was what remained of a huge triumphal arch:

HPIM0403.jpg image by zecainfrance

It is impossible to over estimate the level of its awesomeness. Partly, its appearence, in the middle of a deserted countryside, surrounded by trees and rocks (also from Glanum?)  makes them seem more remarkable than if they’d been in the middle of a big city.

They were truly a major treat.

The other treat of the day was the visit to St. Remy, the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh spent a couple years, painting about every day. We were visited by a guest lecturer, Marie-Charlotte, who spoke with a delicious, if not always comprehensible, French accent, and all of us standing outside in the sun is not the best way to absorb a lecture.

It was better when we got inside the building. St. Remy was a 12th Century monastery, so there was plenty there to amaze me, without the paintings of Van Gogh (Hans did a wonderfully proper Dutch prononciation of Van Gogh’s name, which sounded like a great way to clear out all the nasal passages. Also, Van Gogh looked remarkably like Hugh Laurie in “House.”) But there was this:HPIM0413.jpg image by zecainfranceand this:HPIM0414.jpg image by zecainfranceand this:HPIM0412.jpg image by zecainfrance

and this: HPIM0417.jpg image by zecainfrance

I’ve never been a huge fan of Van Gogh’s painting, but there’s no way to deny the genius, the urgency, of his paintings, and his valiant struggle against his mental illness. I remember seeing a huge exhibition of his paintings in the early 70s, arranged chronologically, and it was excruciating to witness his collapse, as documented in his paintings.

But it was great to see copies of paintings, placed where he found the inspiration for painting them. HPIM0410.jpg image by zecainfrance

And it would be interesting to read his letters to his brother Theo.

HPIM0418.jpg image by zecainfrance

Overall, a most rewarding visit.

Then a ride back to our hotel near Graveson, with interest in the pool and what they would feed us for dinner. First, we had our introductory meeting, and had a chance to say something about ourselves. I’m with a very interesting, articulate group, that I’m looking forward to getting to know better. I wrote down all the names, and now, two days later, know about half of them. It’s progress. Well, I’m not with the pool crowd, but was certainly looking forward to dinner.

This is what we had:

a filo dough starter, with cheese, onion and tomato:HPIM0422.jpg image by zecainfrance

Then on to the entree: HPIM0423.jpg image by zecainfrance Beef, beans, and rice, probably local

The cheese plate, always delicious: HPIM0424.jpg image by zecainfrance

Then the dessert, all lubricated with lots of rose wine, and we once again managed to get some decaf after, if not with dessert. The French do have their standards after all, including coffee separate from dessert. HPIM0425.jpg image by zecainfrance I had to use some filling from the creme caramel to lighten the coffee. It worked very well.

Then to bed. Enough for today.


One Response

  1. We spent some time at Glanum and were also awed by the Triumphal Arch near there. We missed the St. Remy asylum and I was glad to see your photos. Am wondering how many miles you are riding each day? Press on!

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