I pushed a button I didn’t mean to and off went the post “Feeling Our Oats” – So now I’m continuing where I left off, I hope.
The Camargue is an amazing wetland/delta area that Ken and I had visited in the dead of winter – again with Gudrun as our guide. This time we could enjoy warm temperatures and the spring activity. We drove for a full day all over the small roads and byways of the Camargue, hearing stories and history as we went.
We stopped by the vast lake/étang de Vaccares and had a thoroughly french picnic of bread & cheese & wine and olives & paté that Gudrun had prepared for us in the morning.
The vast lagoons of the Camargue are host to many species of water birds, and the white horses of the Camargue run along side us in the fields.
In spring local people harvest the tall reeds (roseau) that grow along the lagoons and canals, dry them, and then sell them to be used for making roof tops and other kinds of thatched barriers. Gudrun was able to explain many customs of the Camargue that have existed over time without change.
Gudrun also shared with us her friendships – most notably with Françoise and her husband who have a “ranch” on which they raise the taureau (bulls) for running in the Course Camarguaise, and train the white horses that are emblematic of the Camargue. Françoise is an Arlesianne beauty, generous and proud of the patrimoine (heritage) of the Carmargue.
Not all of our time was spent in the countryside. We enjoyed getting to know the little town of Aigues-Mortes (Still Waters) where Gudrun has her B&B Farniente. The town is completely enclosed by ramparts that have protected it from invasion since the 13th century. We walked the ramparts and visited the small artisanal shops where we found some beautiful clothing. Renée and Hélène, a woman from London with roots in Provence, who was also staying at Gudrun’s, came away with some terrific items.
Here Renée is showing off her new coat and scarf, and marveling that Ken is, indeed, very tall!
While Renée and I were soaking up french language and history, Ken was exploring Andorra, a small country in the Pyrenees nestled between France and Spain. He loved the high mountains, still capped with snow, and found an isolated resort where he was the only guest to spend two nights. Because Andorra is so small, he could traverse the country in a day. And it was only, by car, three hours southwest of Aigues-Mortes.
Closer to home, we’ve been enjoying hikes by the Mediterranean in the fjord-like area called the Calanques. Recently we visited an area called Sormiou where we scrambled up rocky slopes to gain beautiful views of the green and deep blue waters of the Sea.
City time in Aix continues to be interesting and full of surprises. We have loved the concerts at the Grand Theatre de Provence showcasing artists from around the world. And this summer promises to provide us with all the music you could want, from opera to Bach festivals, to a major Piano Festival nearby. It will be hard to choose from all the opportunities.
And right in our own building we continue to enjoy plays and musical evenings produced by Isabelle, the daughter of Monique and Dominique, our landlords. When Renée first arrived we were able to enjoy together an excellent production of “Love Letters,” a play by A.R. Gurney, an american playwright. It was in french, of course, but we both managed pretty well to understand, assisted by the great articulation and acting of Isabelle and her male partner in this two-person play.
It’s the best of all worlds to be able to taste of all these different experiences, and to enjoy it all with the people we love. We continue to find new friends, new restaurants, new golf courses, new expressions in french, and we cherish all who are keeping a place for us in your hearts for our return.
Karen & Ken
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