Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Sous le pont"...

Street markets in the south of France...  many varieties of tomatoes...

and of olives.. garlic...

Nougat from a huge block.... no wonder it was easy to put on the pounds while away.
We spent four nights in Avignon before moving on to Aix en Provence.  And of course we stood on the famous half-bridge.  For a spectacular tourist attraction a half bridge or a leaning tower wins every time over the same article in good repair.  Everywhere there is a sense of layered histories, of change over centuries, as witnessed by these overlapping arches on the small chapel on the bridge.
First, though we had visited the Palace of the Popes, a labyrinthine building full of huge audience chambers and dining halls. 
 Now, most of them are in plain white limestone, with a purity of finish appealing to modern taste. One imagines a life of contemplation in a space like this.
However, the two rooms still in a more original state suggest a taste for highly coloured wall paintings and for patterned floor tiles, with every surface decorated.  The pure white limestone seems to be an illusion.
We took a day trip to Arles on the local train.  Here there are very prominent Roman buildings, both an arena and a theatre.  The truly astonishing thing is that the arena, which speaks strongly of scenes from "Gladiator", one of my favourite films, is still in use for bull-fights, some of them to the death. 
This image shows part of the Roman theatre, an eighteenth century facade and a mediaeval chuch spire - with that white limestone in use throughout.

Apart from the brightly printed Provencal tablecloths, there was very little of textile interest, but these quilts, or "boutis" in the Marseillais style seem like good value.  That's eighty-nine euros for a full-size handquilted bedcover. Perhaps not hand made in France, then.


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