Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wednesday 16 November - Les Baux de Provence and Arles

Where's Colin? He’s at the Municipal Aire in Arles.

We didn't have to vacate Camping Bagatelle until 1pm, so we made the most of the facilities until gone noon. That gave us a lazy morning (except for my run along the river; that was far from lazy). The last few bits of laundry (pongy running gear) were hand washed and, once the day finally shed its chilly start, I spent a few hours moving the drying rack around, chasing the patches of sun that had made their way through the tree canopy.

In between times, there was much poring over the reference books, trying to decide whether to head east over to the highly recommended Gorges du Verdon, or whether to head south. As much as we'd like to go to the Gorges, we'd prefer to do so at a more hospitable time of year, so 'east' was put on hold for another time and south we went.

I'll gloss over our confusion between the emergency stop and the 'go' buttons on
the LPG pump at a petrol station en-route and skip straight to Les Baux de Provence, which was our first port of call. It's another of those spectacular medieval hillside villages, but in this case overtly touristy at every turn (and reasonably well frequented by tourists too, considering the time of year), and topped by a castle which, in places, merges into the rock. Parking around the village was €5 per day, which was a bit steep considering we didn't expect to be more than an hour. Of course, as we drove on afterwards, free places were spotted within easy walking distance. Hey Ho, at least we contributed a little to the local economy, even though we didn't opt to pay for a visit to the castle.

Once again I've completely failed to capture the essence of the place, and the surrounding views, in the snaps below. If it wasn't for modern shop signs, you'd think, upon entering the place, that you'd been transported back 800 years or so:

Our original intention to spend tonight in a village to the NE of Arles then got modified, as we decided to chance there being space at the popular 6-slot Aire at Arles. Had I paid more attention when I was looking at Park4Night earlier, I likely would have noticed that the Aire has moved. As it was, we had a gay old time driving around the city streets at rush hour, combined with a bit of head scratching, before we located the new, much larger, Aire. We're right on the side of the Rhone, and a short walk from a bridge that will take us into town in the morning, but it doesn't look like the nicest area. The reviews I've read are almost all positive, so I imagine it's comes across a bit differently when there are dozens of vans here in summer, rather than the half dozen there are tonight (at least three of which give the impression of being permanent residences or in storage).

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