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Deep in the Vaucluse

July 17, 2022

Yesterday we were enervated by the heat: 95 degrees and the sun a hammer striking the anvil of my head. My normal Panama hat was even too hot, so I bought a straw one that at least was ventilated.

The river Sorgue has its source just a few miles away outside the town of Fontaine de Vaucluse. A 15-20-minute uphill walk along the stream that eventually becomes the river ends at what looks like a cave opening. In the spring, snowmelt from the Alpilles gushes out of this yawning maw and rushes across enormous boulders, tumbling into waterfalls and filling pools. In dead summer, however, there is no rushing water; but the river meanders slowly, ducks paddling atop its green depths. Overlooking the modern town is an ancient castle.

We opted for lunch at a riverside café called Philip 1926, where each of us had a marvelous truffle omelet.

In just under an hour west we arrived in Les Baux-de-Provence, a small, picturesque village clinging to the rocky mountainside. Just down the hill is Carrières Lumiéres, an ever-changing show I can best compare to the immersive Van Gogh exhibit making the rounds this past year. The venue is an a played out quarry that is actually a cave, which is about 35 degrees cooler than the outside — a relief on this scorching day. Daughter Katherine and I first visited Lumiéres more than 20 years ago, and it’s still the main attraction in the area. This display of photographs and paintings projected on the walls was of Venice, primarily during the Renaissance, and was accompanied by classical music.

After a couple of attempts to drive to the center of town, it became apparent that the only way up was to climb the steep road, so ….. never mind!

We were very near the lovely town of St.-Rémy. Outside the town is the ancient Roman excavation of Glanum, and just next door the sanitarium where Vincent Van Gogh was hospitalized. Given the heat, we didn’t trek through the excavation, but we did enjoy a visit to the hospital, with its small field of lavender and sunflowers in back. One can imagine Vincent gazing from his cell-like room and taking in the heady aroma of lavender from the small field below.

I have more images from the asylum and Glanum but can’t seem to upload them, so I’ll skip that for now and circle back when I have better WIFI. I’ll also add photos of nightlife in L’Isle along the river.

One Comment
  1. Cheri Anderson permalink

    Nicely written Diana! You really captured the essence of our experience.

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