During my stay in France I had the privilege of experiencing a part of the culture not everyone sees. I spent 5 days with my family in the countryside of Provence perusing the local markets, exploring hill top villages from well before Jesus’ time, collecting fresh croissants for our morning tea and lazing by the pool in the humid, 35˚C temperature. My parents did a house swap meaning they got this wonderful home (and this wonderful pool) for a month in exchange for the owners visiting New Zealand.
Walking distance from the little village of Maillane, and a short drive to St Remy, Avignon and Les Baux, this house provided an ideal homebase for exploring.
A trip to Glanum proved to be quite a history lesson for me. The ruins here dating from 1st Century BC sure made New Zealand look young.
Although the many stone villages and sites were outstanding, the highlights of my Provençal experience included sitting with my family at a quaint French cafe each morning enjoying café allongé and a freshly baked croissant (or a pain au chocolat for the 2yo nephew) and taking a morning jog with my dad through the countryside (horses! sunflowers! baguettes!) before the heat of the day engulfed us.
This ancient Roman aqueduct bridge, Pont du Gard was mind-blowing. The importance that the Romans placed on bathing led to the construction of a 50km aqueduct to flow water from some nearby natural springs over hill, rivers and land to the city of Nimes. It was hard to fathom the amount of man power that went into constructing the entire aqueduct, including this ginormous bridge. The irony of building a bridge to transport water over water crossed our minds as we ourselves bathed in the refreshing, crystal clear water beneath.
It was hard to say ‘au revoir’ to my parents not knowing when the next reunion will be. Perhaps in another country, yet again.