Driving Through Provence, France

An abandoned farm buildingIn a random French villageDay 9 was the worst of my 15 day trip through Southern Europe.  It wasn’t completely horrible, but it definitely didn’t go according to plan.  I tried to do too much, to see too much, to cover too much ground.  I didn’t realize how much time it would take to drive through France.  That the GPS would take me through the heart of every city, which would have traffic and narrow, confusing roads.  I wasted far too much time driving from Cassis to Lyon, with random, out of the way destinations along the way to Lyon.  A mistake I will not be making again, but needless to say, it was Provence, France.  I certainly found things worth seeing along the way and still enjoyed myself for most of the day…

Sad SunflowersDriving through the countryside of Provence, I almost felt as though I was in Crete.  The terrain around me looked very similar in some areas, and the random groves of olive trees certainly helped to encourage that feeling.  Along one little road, I spotted an abandoned farm building, which I stopped briefly at to look at.  I will forever be addicted to abandoned buildings.

Chapelle St GabrielLater on, I glimpsed a sign for Chapelle St Gabriel, which I passed by too quickly.  Fortunately, just down the road was a round-a-bout, so I used that to reverse my direction so that I could check out the chapel.  To my delight, it was up a narrow set of old, stone stairs, and down a narrow dirt path through a grove of olive trees.  It felt just like Crete, like home for me.  The doors were locked to the chapel, sadly.  I took a few pictures around the outside of it, and then returned to the car and the road, already starting to realize that I had a lot of ground to cover and I was taking too long…

SunflowerDespite this, when I found a field of sunflowers, with a little road along it, I had to pull off for it.  The field fit with the mood of the day, it looked depressing.  The flowers were all bent over, facing down, looking quite sad and pathetic.  Not at all like the typical happy sunflower.  Back in the car after a few pictures here.

Pont du GardEventually, after a lot of driving, I reached the first of my destinations for the day.  Pont du Gard is an old Roman aqueduct that spans a little river.  Pictures of it I had seen online made it look quite impressive and grand, but in reality, it was slightly disappointing.  Huge, pretty, yet surrounded by people playing in the river.  Oh well.  It was starting to sprinkle a little, and I was starving, so I stopped at the little restaurant along the river near it and got a fabulous duck, what type I can’t remember, but it was very yummy.  Once I was finished, it was back to the car for some more driving.

Sénanque AbbeyAfter a long spell in the car, I finally reached my next destination for the day, Sénanque Abbey.  This is THE photographic site in Provence for pictures of lavender with an old abbey behind it.  You’ve probably seen this abbey before.  I know I had seen it plenty, and desperately wanted to see it.  Seeing the lavender fields in bloom in Provence, France has always been a strong desire of mine.  So much so, that I had planned this summer trip for this reason.  Everything was planned around the idea of ending up here, at Sénanque Abbey, when the lavender was in bloom.  

Sénanque Abbey & the Freshly Harvested LavenderOf course, my luck for the day won out, and the lavender had just been harvested.  Seriously?  I also arrived a little too late to be able to go inside the abbey, so I just walked around the outside, snapped a few pictures and then left.  I parked up near the main road, however, because there was ONE remaining field of lavender that I was able to snap a picture of, with the abbey in the background.  Such a disappointment.  

Sénanque AbbeyFrom there I drove back through the picturesque little town of Gordes.  I stopped in a little parking area so that I could snap a picture of this gorgeous little town, that is clinging to the side of a steep hill.  Then it was back in the car for a long drive back to civilization and on to Lyon, France, where I was staying for the night.  Leaving Gordes, I drove through a narrow little gorge, on a narrow, twisting, windy road which reminded me so much of Theriso Gorge in Crete.  France made me miss Crete more than anywhere else…


Leaving Gordes


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