We are managing to paint, draw and visit lots of places in Provence – three visited Arles on Monday while the other three painted ‘at home’, then on Tuesday we collected a car and visited Velleron for the Farmer’s market. On Wednesday we travelled further afield to Aureille in the Alpilles National Park and then the spectacular Carrières de Lumière at Les Baux.
For the first few days we used the excellent train system to get around but wanting to get around more easily and to get ourselves and our baggage back to Avignon for the next (individual) ongoing journeys we hired a seven seater car.
Have you ever tried to set up the GPS map system in your hire car? Are you still sane? Robyn, who lived in Germany for a year and was familiar with driving on the right hand side of the road was game enough to offer to be the driver while I navigated! The Europcar man did get the system to work in English (thank goodness) – we thought he had stored our ‘home’ and route – but NO. Very soon it became apparent we were heading in exactly the wrong direction – in the middle of a large and busy city – a real challenge to find some where to stop without hitting anything! Reprogramming was not successful but fortunately I had found a large and detailed old style map of France at our lodgings and gradually we pointed in the right direction and managed to get ‘home’. Hooray for Robyn!
Having finally worked out how to use the GPS system (voice still did not work), we took off later in the day for Velleron – this town has a Marché Agricole (Farmer’s Market) a few evenings a week, starting at 6pm and is said to be one of the 100 best in France. It is certainly impressive and the produce for sale is presented beautifully and not expensive. The hard thing is not to buy everything – in the end I bought fresh goat’s cheeses and a lovely cotton top. Others bought cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, bread, sausage, chicken – we could feed an army!!
Our longest journey happened on Wednesday when we had a date to visit ‘Four Winds’ the artist residence I attended for two weeks in April 2016 for lunch. Gorgeous day and with GPS working, we traveled across to the Alpilles National Park – a magnificent area of limestone hills, olive groves, vineyards and poppy fields. Aureille is a completely non touristy village that I used to walk to and we stopped in the café/bar I used to frequent for morning coffee. Fabulous to revisit and sooo ‘Provençal’. At Four Winds we had a tour of the working artist studios and met up with two of the resident artists, Christina from Myocum (Australia) and Jill from Byron (also Australia). Ursula Haines, the international sculptor was in residence and I was fascinated to hear that she knew and had visited the famous Henry Moore, whose home and studios I had just visited in England. Vianney Pinon was our host and we examined his ‘photographic paintings’ – he has just had a very successful exhibition in Arles.
Completely full of food we then set off for the famous Carrières de Lumière at Les Baux, not far away – lucky, because the GPS refused again! What a wonderful experience this was – it is an immersion in art experience. The venue is an old limestone quarry which has been made into a vast walk through cinematic art exhibition – the show was Bosch, Breughel and Arcimbolo – and the art works are projected onto the walls, floor, ceiling, into the various spaces – everywhere you look there is colour, paintings, animation of the paintings, the music surrounds you – an immersive and sublime experience. If you ever go to Provence, you must visit it!
Thursday is a day of rest and also a holiday day in France and then on Friday we leave this beautiful retreat and go our separate ways. I will travel to Roquebrun in the Languedoc area with a friend, Gillian and Jill who was staying at Four Winds, before heading back to England. Stay tuned for further posts…………..