Friday, September 24, 2010

Alan goes north, we stay close to home, and a storm gets us all

Roman amphitheater turned bull ring

Tour Magne
SCAD has a few Fridays set aside for all-campus field trips, and today they went to Nimes and Pont du Guard. They chartered a bus to drive Alan and the rest of the students the hour and a half to Nimes. They spent the first part of the day in the city, exploring sites like the Roman amphitheater (now a bull fighting ring), the lovely park which includes the excavated ruins of the Temple of Diane (built in the 2nd century, true use unknown), and the best preserved Roman temple still standing (you can tell how well they are preserving it by the fact that it is covered in scaffolding!). Alan waited with a group of other students for the Tour Magne, a three-story tower located at the cities high point, to open after lunch (yes, just about everything closes for lunch over here!) and got a nice view of the city from the top.

Roman temple (plus scaffolding)

Pont du Guard, the ancient Roman aqueduct, proved more interesting but received only a small amount of time. Alan ran all over the place and got a few good photos when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds.

Pont du Guard
 Much closer to home, Mom, Dad, and I headed first to the Abbaye de St-Hilaire. Just down the road from Lacoste, it is now private property that is being restored while the family lives in part of it. While all the ornate churches I have visited are magnificent, I almost prefer the plain and simple chapels like this one.

Abbaye de St-Hilarie

We headed on down the road past Menerbes to Oppede-la-Vieux, a small town perched on a mountain spur that had once been nearly abandoned for the more hospitable plain just below. At the very top of the village are a 13th century collegiate church and the ruins of a castle, both with excellent views of the valley below.

Mom in the Oppede-la-Vieux church

Both Mom and I need to work some in the afternoon, but around 3 o’clock we planned to try the hike across the valley to Bonnieux a second time. Just as Mom walked back in the door in preparation to leave it started to pour! Around 5:30pm it finally started to clear. We held a quick pow-wow and decided to go on the walk anyway and to hold dinner till later. 

Lacoste with thunderheads above
We set out into the watery light, watching huge clouds blow back and forth over the landscape. The sun shone on us, but to the north dark rain clouds still hovered. We made it almost half way across before losing the trail again, and after some searching decided to turn around and head home. A rainbow decorated the northern sky, but as we reached the edge of the village the wind started to shift, bringing the stormy clouds flying down across the valley again.

Can you see the rainbow?
Being very hungry after our walk, we were just sitting down to eat when Alan rushed in accompanied by the storm breaking anew, this time with hail as well as pouring rain! We worried about the grapes and other produce out in the fields, but the hail didn’t last long enough to do any real damage that we could see. Thankfully we were now all safe inside to watch the glory of the storm from the comfort of home.


  1. I really like the picture of the ruins with the speedy scooter. And the pictures of the thunderclouds over the town. So pretty!

    Do trees change color over there in the fall, I wonder? Or is it mostly just olive trees and bushes? You should learn to press olive oil!

  2. We are not sure about fall color - some guide books say that there is some, but the trees are mostly oaks and pine, which aren't very colorful. But the grape vines are supposed to turn, so that should be pretty : )