French province

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Last week we had a great time exploring the region of Le Drome Provencale. Little names for us on the map are hidden amazing architectural gems, Romanesque monuments or just villages nestled among the picturesque hills. Provence has centuries-old tradition and history. Not surprisingly, we are in the former Gaul, one of the provinces of the former Roman Empire.

 

Golf had another well deserved week of rest under a palm tree. Wonder if he ever expected such a retirement?

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The weather was excellent to mountain hikes and bicycle tours. On the photo you can see the temperature captured on the thermometer at the pharmacy in the center of Nyons.

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Sometimes it was really warm, but the higher peak the colder it gets so the week we started from the entrance to the Garde Grosse (944 m nm), the highest mountain in the visible massif.

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The entrance to the summit of the center of Nyons took us 2.5 hours, descent one and a half. It was worth it, because the views from there are really fantastic. This view on the photo is located in the valley of the river Eygues Nyons from a height of almost 1,000 meters above sea level.

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From the summit to the south we saw for the first time during our trip Mont Ventoux (1912 m), one of the most famous geographical attractions of Provence. Written in 1990 as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, but we primarily associated it with the Tour de France. Every few years there is the finish of one of the most exciting stages of the Great Loop.

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The view from Garde Grosse to the west leaves no illusions. In the last plan, the peaks of the high Alps appear on the Franco-Italian border. Once a barrier difficult to pass and as today the Alps divided two countries, so in the past it was a natural border between Gaul and Italy.

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Being on these region, you should visit Vinsobres, a picturesque town of several thousand people. Vinsobres is famous for its fine wines. In the area there are several dozen (may be dozens!) local vineyards and every meter of free space under cultivation is intended for vines.

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You can come into each vineyard and buy a few bottles of your favorite liquor (on average a few euros per bottle, depending on the vintage) or simply pour this year’s product straight from the hose to a plastic or glass bottle. The price of such wine is 1 euro per liter.

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Vinsobres, although small, is a former medieval town. The city walls are preserved until today and the entrance to the center leads through the gate. Narrow streets and stone buildings provide the shade and coolness necessary in the Mediterranean climate.

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Overlooking Vinsobres is an impressive Romanesque church, Ancien Prieure, dating back to the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

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The other temple is located outside the historic center of l’Eglise from the 17th century.

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The center is filled with restaurants and cafes in which the French spend the morning, afternoon and evening. Between 12am and 2pm life is dying in smaller towns. Commercial and retail stores, shops, post offices, offices and banks have siesta. At the same time, the traffic also decreases. On the street hard to meet anyone. Only tourists fill up larger cafes and restaurants, which have nothing to do with a traditional break, and in this places they just count their profits.

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It is different on the market day. The fair is held in Provence in most towns and cities once a week, and between July and September twice a week. The Nyons market takes place every Thursday between 5am and 2pm. Then the town takes over the ownership of merchants and dealers, who are located at every corner of the city center, occupying the market, the surrounding squares and streets.

 

The most interesting for us are obviously local food products. Olives, cheeses, herbs, fish and seafood, which is really a huge choice (although we are in the mountains of Marseille it is only about 150 km away). In the photo below local olive preparations, mainly bread spreads, which are very popular here.

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Apart from foodstuffs, they also trade in everything we do. Except for lavender products (beautifully scented soaps), it is not worth the extra attention.

 

Another day and another trip. This time it was Vaison-la-romaine (former Roman Vasio), 15 km from Nyons in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur. On the way once again (and not the last one) we see Mont Ventoux against the backdrop of grape orchards.

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As we mentioned in Vaison-la-Romaine, the ancient Romans resided. Since the 20th century we can sightsee the remains of the former Roman city of Vasio from the 1st c. Today is one of Vaison’s major tourist attractions.

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However, in our opinion the biggest attraction is located on a high stone hillside on the river l’Ouveze Old Town with a castle towering over it, built in a medieval full architecture.

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Interestingly, the ancient Roman bridge built by the Romans at the end of the Empire (dating back to the second half of the 1st millennium BC) leads to the city. This demonstrates the high position of Vasio at that time, and the communication path that follows. The bridge is still in use and it is the main pedestrian access to the Vaison-la-Romaine castle hill.

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At the top of the hill we climb through narrow, cramped streets. That’s basically what every town in the region looks like.

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On our way we pass the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-de-l’Assomption from the mid-15th century.

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Climbing to the summit again, Mont Ventoux is about to reveal itself, as if it predicting that we would be picking up in a few days. The mountain is also visible from the hole in the wall at the top of the castle hill in Vaison-la-Romaine.

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The castle itself turns out to be half-demolished. Its origins date back to the twelfth century. Between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries was the papal residence. Probably the proximity of Avignon, the former temporary papal capital, contributed to this. About this other time, because Avion is still ahead of us.

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From the top you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Vaison-la-Romaine and the nearby hills. On the left is the visible mass of Monte Grosse, which we visited a few days ago. It brings to mind the association with the Three Crowns in the Pieniny Mountains – similar height, and three peaks next to each other in a mountain massif.

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Vaison-la-romaine once again surprised us. The small town, not far from the present-day hiking trails, offers not only the ancient Vasio and the medieval Old Town, which is preserved on the hillside, but also the former suburb, the area beyond the city walls, which was developed equally with him.

 

One of the remains is located just off, the 11th-century Romanesque cathedral of Notre-Dame de Nazareth. Next to it is a monastery dating back to the same age.

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Indeed, it is difficult to resist the impression that many of the places here are living witnesses of more than 2,000 years of the history of these lands. In such a short span of time it is difficult to cover it with a broad gaze.

 

It is worth mentioning that apart from the described places, Vaison-la-romaine also has a bit of the centuries-old building of the center and market, which we do not present here.

 

On the way back to Nyons once again we have a beautiful view of Mont Ventoux.

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The bike ride of the Nyons-Vaison section took about 2 hours in one direction. The tour is definitely recommendable.

 

Finally Pont Roman and Nyons seen from a slightly different perspective than before.

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According to the announcement in the next week, Entrance to Mont Ventoux and explore Avignon.


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