Provence, France - Handmade in the Heartland

Provence, France

The start to our first day traveling through Provence, France was a little less than ideal. When we woke up and left Cannes we headed for St. Tropez, the little beach front area that Bridget Bardot made famous in the 60's, and it was raining cats and dogs. It was raining so hard that we didn't even attempt to get out of the car, we drove around the little city center and headed strait for Marseille which was even worse. In my fodors book it really talked up Marseille and in their defense it would have been a beautiful city had the trash men not been on strike. As we drove into the city we kept seeing all these huge mounds of trash on nearly every block and as we got into Marseille it only got worse. We literally drove through the city, got out and snapped a few pictures holding our nose (the one above being one of them) and got back in the car and headed out. Being pregnant i honestly couldn't handle getting out for any longer than that. Such a shame that the city has let it get that bad, you can see a trash pile in a pic below- just imagine that on every corner.

So we drove on and arrived at our first Provencal hotel, the hotel St. Christophe which i think looks a little nicer on their website than in person. (boy was i glad i didn't book a hotel in Marseille) Don't get me wrong it was a nice, clean hotel, but it looks a little on the luxury side on the website and i would say it's a great budget option, but don't expect a super comfy bed or large room. The hotel was in Aix en Provence, which i expected to be a little village and in reality it is a city. I would say that is my biggest misconception with Europe, i expected everything to be smaller than it was, i expected Paris to feel smaller more similar to Aix and then i expected Aix to be just a little village like St.Remy (which we drove through the following day). Anyhow, however big Aix was it was very charming, exactly what you would expect in Provence- winding streets, beautiful building facades and lots of quaint shopping. We enjoyed our afternoon meandering around very much. We also visited Cezanne's home where many of his famous paintings were completed. It turns out that Provence is quite the birth place of impressionism and we were right in the heart of it all. We also visited the hospital where Van Gogh cut of his own ear.
trash pile in Marseille

The following day we got up and headed to Narbonne, France which was several hours closer to Barcelona and where we had booked a hotel. On the way to Narbonne we stopped at several different Provencal towns, Arles, St.Remy, & Nimes. Because the entire area of Provence is near the coast many of the cities were under the great Roman empires rule and have very roman/greek looking ruins to explore. You'll see several in these next photos. The amphitheater in the picture below is the largest roman amphitheater outside of the Colosseum in Rome.

This is the mental hospital where Van Gogh cut off his own ear. He also made a paintng, you can see a print of the painting i that i'm holding up in one of the photos. He also painted Starry Night in Arles and many of his famous works were completed during his time in Provence.

The little village of St.Remy de Provence almost felt abandon there were so little people there and so many of the stores and restaurants were closed, and it was a weekday. Maybe they are more bustling during the spring/summer months, it was a very cute village.

As we left St.Remy the landscape started looking more and more desert-y and Matt mentioned that it looked like what he pictured Isreal/ Jerusalem to look like. I guess we'll have to go there to see... :)

Narbonne, where we stayed that evening was also very small and quaint. We stayed at cute little hotel that was super inexpensive and kind enough to give you free wifi. It was called the Hotel La Residence and you can go to their website just click HERE.

You can see all of our Provence pictures in the album on photobucket, just click HERE. and below you can see a google map of the road trip through Provence. I only have one more Europe post to make! can you believe it! :)

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