Manyana Dreaming

The life and travels of the Kemp Family

A Trip to Mont Ventoux

On previous visits to France we have always visited areas that are involved with a Tour De France , especially the mountain climbs . I think the scenery we have seen while watching the Tour back home is one of the reasons we keep coming back to France .

This trip , we wanted to climb Mont Ventoux , they say it is the holy grail for a cycle racer , but of course we do it in a car . It is still in Provence ,so we are staying in a small village nearby . Our host in our B&B told us in summer over 2,000 cyclists a day climb to the summit .

It’s a 24km climb but we had to stop 6kms from the top because the road was closed for the winter .

Maybe we will have to try another time .

Our host at the B&B is a great artist and she painted this selfie that her son took when he reached the top , apparently the sign was stolen not long after .

So down the mountain we went and we have spent the last two days enjoying the towns in this very rural part of Provence . With great tips from our hosts we have Criss crossed back and forth across the map .

Above and below is the Ochre town of Roussillon

Most of the villages around here are what they call Beaux Villages ( the most beautiful in France )

And today they became even more beautiful because we awoke to snow this morning . It was just picture perfect with a Roman bridge as well . What more could you want .

So tomorrow we leave these parts and head to Lyon and catch a train back to Paris , I must say I do love France . To finish this post I have another painting our host painted , I do know I have special friends that will enjoy this portrait .

Aix and More

Hi all , we have been having a great 4 days here in Aix -en -Provence , we have used Aix as a base to set out on daily excursions . Aix is pretty enough on its own and xmas is all around .

Above is my friendly Frenchman blowing a kiss as he decorated a shop front with fresh fir tree . It’s been quite cold , temps from 2c to about 9c in the middle of the day .

We stroll through the centre of town at night and enjoy a Vin Chaud , before going out to dinner .

It’s quite a treat on these cold nights .

Yesterday we drove down to the coast to the town of Cassis , we enjoyed a lunch there and wandered the surrounds , there is a beautiful ruggedness to the coast line in this part of France .

Above: Pastis Gambbos , enjoyed by Bruce and below the landscape of Cassis .

Today we are up in some of the hillside towns of Provence which are renowned for the beauty ( they get an offical plaque ) they are mostly producers of Olives , Wine or Lavender in this part of the world .

Above : This is the village of Tourtour , five minutes after the above picture was taken an army troop carrier passed through here and I would say he exited with damaged antenna’s .

It was then onto the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie , this village is built into the side of a Gorge , it had everything as they do , history , beauty , bridges , waterfalls and more .

There was a waterfall running right down through this Gorge and under the bridge and at the the very top a small church , also suspended across the top of the Gorge was a star . Truly amazing .

Now we are back in Aix , heading down for a Vin Chaud and then off north tomorrow to take in more sights .

Into Provence

It’s been a enjoyable few days , slowly making our way across the lower parts of France into Provence.

We spent a day in Arles, a city that , for us is very interesting, as it is the town in which Van Gogh created so many of his masterpieces. We followed a trail through the town to where he painted his scenes. The one below was at the time the hospital he was in while recovering from cutting off his ear.

We are now in the town of Aix en Provence. We hope to take in some more regional activities, and off course , being his home town, a little look into the life and works of Cezanne.

On our arrival, we came directly into the start of the Christmas festivities, which open this weekend the 25-26 November

The main thoroughfare is Cours Mirabeau, it was a buzz and the entire length was lined with decorative Christmas stalls.

It’s the same the world over, kids and that magic of Christmas.

One of the fantastic regional traditions at Christmas is the collecting of foire aux santons. These are miniature figures of the lifestyles of people in Provence. It’s been a tradition to collect them since the 17th century.

The town itself away from the Christmas fair activities is really beautiful. There a over 20 natural thermal springs and fountains throughout the streets and squares. This is why the romans settled this town here in the 1 st century. Them romans certainly loved a bath.

These are just a couple we pass as we walk up to the Cours Mirabeau the Main Street .

Talk again soon.

Millau! How Would You Pronounce That

I have wanted to come here in the previous visits to France, but it was always just not on our route to anywhere we had planned to travel. But on this trip, I made sure we where going to come across this section of France, and we are so glad we did.

Firstly, as the title suggests, there must be a catch in the way we (at least how Australians would pronounce it) would say the township of Millau. Think of a cat! Now say it MEE-OOW.

I wanted to see the highest bridge in the world, which spans the valley of the Tarn. It is two and half kilometres long, 343 meters high.

It is incredible, it crosses the valley floor with amazingly no environmental damage to the countryside below. Farms grow crops and livestock directly to the very inch of the pillars. This bridge is about three kilometres as the crow flys from where we are staying. Now from our Romanesque hilltop village , the views are amazing

We where so surprised when we arrived at this gite, here at Luzencon. Old roman ruins lay metres from our home , it is a one minute walk to get to inspect history just laying here as it has for centuries. Believe me , no one comes up our little lane to find these artefacts. Both Margy ann and I where happy to spend time here.

Along with the engineering marvel of seeing the bridge, the landscape is wonderful and scattered around the area are these ancient round buildings called Caselles. Huts for Shepard in medieval times.

The is our gite, while we are here

The tiny village on the hill in the middle ground is Luzencon. I really do love the smaller regional rural towns.

Au revoir from France, talk again soon.

Let’s be Honest , there are moments .

As much as we are always telling you of all the wonderful things we have seen and done there are those moments we could kill each other , one wants to go right the other left .

A lot of things in travelling you learn by experience , a good thing is our “Sally Sat Nav ” as we call her or GPS . She saves the day most times ,but you have to be careful when you put in a town ,she always directs you to Centre -Ville , that can be dangerous and we’ve learnt the hard way . A lot of these towns are medieval and the closer you get to the centre the smaller the lanes become ( only designed for donkeys )

We have been caught a few times and have been snookered in corners you can’t get out of , lots of FFFFF ing , so now we park out of town and walk in , don’t we !!!

Another thing we have found difficult is the hours the French and Spanish keep ,especially regional towns . In France they open at 10am and close at 12noon , open again a 2pm , no one eats till around 9pm . It makes for a long day . The other day we got to a museum at 11am and they shooed us out 12 noon . We could not go back till 2pm . You don’t get to see many sights in a day when this happens .

In Spain they seem to close 12 noon and reopen around 4pm so again you miss out on seeing a lot and don’t expect to eat till 9pm , so you go to bed with a full belly .

Try sleeping after eating all these.

Then there is the disappointment when your looking forward to seeing the La Perouse Museum and you walk across town ,only to find its closed for the winter and the tourist information centre doesn’t let you know .

This has happened before in England at the Captain Cook Museum , must be something to do with sailors in winter .

Another challenge has been the showers , can’t they design one universal style , it’s difficult climbing in with glasses on to try and figure out how it works . One B&B host informed us that we left to much water on the floor , but he only had a hand shower in the bath and it flew around the room like a crazy snake every time you turned the taps on .

Today I think we turned the corner , no more fighting the system , we were having a transport day between Albi and Millau travelling through the Tarn Valley it was 12noon , on entering a tiny village we found the place we were recommended to eat , it was closed ( 12 noon you know ) so we backed our way out of that situation turned a corner and there were at least 20 little vans ( you need little vans in these towns ) . We both said ” this must be where you get lunch , so in we walked , it was full with men eating and talking , the lady owner showed us a table ” it’s a set menu ” she said and what an experience it was , 5 courses with bread and coffee and a pitcher of red wine all for 27 euros for 2 people and to top it off she sang opera beautifully while serving . So we’re learning to go with the flow, and have a tiny van ,they can go everywhere and you don’t have to worry about dinner at 9pm .

But fortunately the good out ways the bad and as we are nearing the end of our travels we can still come away with lots and lots good memories.

Lautrec , La Perouse and Albi

What do they all have in common , they all came from Albi. This is a beautiful medieval town which has been preserved, so we can still view these wonderful sights .

This city has the largest brick cathedral in the world and it creates a wonderful centrepiece for the city and is surrounded with beautifully preserved architecture

The famous navigator La Perouse came from Albi and there is a museum which tell of his life and his mysterious demise . He sailed into Botany Bay a few days after The English in 1788

The other man of note is Toulouse Lautrec , I am sure you will recognise his later work there is a example below.

But he also was classically trained like Picasso and started with works like this

These artworks are all housed in a museum given to the city of Albi by his family .

So , this was our day in and out of museums and churches , strolling the lovely streets all rugged up , as it never got passed 3c and ending it with a warm Vin Chuad in the centre of town

Farewell Spain

We are sorry to say goodbye to Spain. Those two weeks just flew bye and now back to France.

There where many many thing we liked about Spain. The weather, the natural beauty, and the friendly people, one of the most impressive amongst many things was the coffee, the wine, and the beer. We never had a bad one. Food was a never ending assortment of ideas and inventions, predominantly ham, as they consume ham at a rate of over 15 kg per person per year.

Most kids have chuppa chups, but in Spain you have this

So now we head north over the Pyrenees back to France Via Andorra

We are lucky that after the snowfalls of a week ago have all been cleared, we got to drive over the mountain passes before they close fore the winter months and the tunnel through to France has to be used. The scenery was fairly spectacular.

Funny the service stations so high up on top of mountain passes but this one reflects the boarder of France and Andorra , so petrol prices are cheaper going into the Andorra side. Makes sense.

Talk soon.

Barcelona, We are Tired

It’s our last day in this beautiful city , as I sit here my feet are aching and it’s an effort to even get up , we have walked , walked and walked for the past 4 days . Our car has had a rest though relaxing down in the parking station .

We have seen everything Gaudi there is to see and it covers a big area of Barcelona .

This fantastic house he built for a wealthy family . It’s amazing inside and out .

This pic above is of a central atrium within the outer walls .

We spent hours walking through the Picasso museum , and admired the contrast in his works from his early days when he was a boy and classically trained till his style that had completely changed before he died .

Now that is a contrast , but still appealing I think .

We have also eaten our way around town and last night we enjoyed more Catalonian food .

It was great here in Barcelona , let’s hope they sort out there political issues , and can move on and be as vibrant and welcoming as they are now .

It’s back to the car tomorrow and over the mountains back to France , we are so lucky we have Sally Sat Nav to lead the way .

Bruce in Barcelona, Who’s Gaudi?

Well my first day in Barcelona, out early to walk about 4 kilometres up to the La Sagrada Familia. This is a church.?

From this point that’s when my day turned into an education on one of the worlds geniuses of design and architecture.

It’s no church!! Well it is really, a basilica, but it’s more an expression of what you can do with a mind like Gaudi.

I will be honest, I had no knowledge of this gentleman, but to enjoy the vibe and buzz of Barcelona is indeed ingrained into their (out there) attitudes. The city has this quirky nature and Gaudi installed it into the ways he built and designed churches,apartment blocks, parks and houses. This block of apartments was built in 1905 and it is so amazing.

Margy ann and I toured this building known by locals as the stone quarry. It is La Pedregal , and amongst some amazing ideas for the time was instead of a roof just being a roof, with chimneys and air vents, he turn them in sculptures and made the roof a special place to relax.

His imagination, and his acceptance from his clients that wanted his designs,was way ahead of its time.

Here is another example of Gaudi renovation work to a building on the right, compared to a more traditional Spanish building of the time on the left.

As we walk the streets there always something to catch our attention. Margy ann surveying here option on ham for lunch

This is la Rambla, it’s one of a number of major pedestrian boulevards through Barcelona. This photo was taken Tuesday afternoon at about 4pm. This is the area that sadly experienced the terrorist attack with a van driving through this situation two months ago. Noticeably no barriers or bollards have been erected, life goes on , which is great to see.

Another Road in Spain

We know Spain has huge areas of flat and dry country, but in the north , well, every bend in the road is a new experience

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