Road Trip to the Luberon

9 Sep

OK, here is the photo-blog of our trip to Millau, Nîmes, Uzès and Rousillion.  We left Les Fadons (home for now) at 8.45am on Thursday the 6th September heading for Millau.

This was only a few hundred metres from ‘home’ at Les Fadons. We were on our way to the Luberon to meet up with Bruce & Gill Anderson when we stumbled upon this automatic grape picing machine. Couldn’t get too close and see how it worked but it seemed to have a powerful fan running – perhaps a vacuum system?

We had no choice but to stop anyway since it was using the road to turn around. It also tangled with the overhead telephone cable when emptying into the trailer later.

There is a bin on each side and once full the machine reverses in to the trailer and tips the bins, one at a time.

Grapes being transferred to the trailer. Only a few leaves picked up.

We knew where the local growers cooperative was so we passed by to see them unload. Not very exciting but it did complete the process for us.

And they all went down there somewhere to become the wine that we buy in the shop at the front of the building.

Several hours later…

Our first glimpse of the Lord Norman Foster designed Millau Viaduct from a viewing point on the main road from Montpellier. I did not realise that the town of Millau was so large; I was expecting something more hamlet sized.

I have seen the documentary about the design and construction of the viaduct on Discovery Channel about 4 times but standing there looking up at it is still awesome.

The viaduct is actually about 10km outside of the town of Millau. We drove slightly past it and found a stopping point where we could walk out into a paddock for an even better view.

If anybody wanted to know what the Millau Viaduct looks like at 4am I can save you the trouble of getting out of bed at 3.30am to find out. Not spectacular! I had an expectation that it would be floodlit from many angles and would look stunning as it stood in light across the dark valley. Sadly I was wrong. But I have saved you the trouble.

Taken from the north side of the viaduct, the buildings in the right foreground are part of an information centre. There is another centre on the south side as well. Southbound traffic can stop at this point to view the viaduct but it is not possible to enter or exit the toll road here.

From the north viewing point it looks spectacular. I tried to keep the truck in this shot to provide context. More information on the Millau Viaduct can be found here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millau_Viaduct

We then took a side trip to Couvertoirade after leaving Millau on Friday morning…

The medieval village of Couvertoirade is remarkable for having sections of unpaved streets. I managed to walk around it taking a few photos and never once incorporating this feature. Brilliant!

A templar headstone in an abandoned cemetary.

Most of the streets were in fact cobbled but the buildings in general did appear to be seriously old.

It was now Saturday and although we stayed in Nîmes last night our first assignment was to go to Uzès for breakfast and a look around.  It also happened to be market day so the place was humming.

The ducal palace in Uzès in the centre of town.

The perfect family transport.

Clear shades of Autumn about.

We got back to Nîmes by about 2pm and set out on foot to see as much as possible using a combination cultural pass that included entrances to the arena, Tour Magne and Maison Carèe.

The arena in Nîmes.

In pretty good condition considering its 2000 years.

Looking from the top level of the arena towards the Tour Magne.

The arena is still used for concerts and some bullfights so there is a lot of modern clutter for these uses but the structure still looks amazing.

Some sections have had a lot of restorative work done as can be seen from the very light coloured section.

On the walk from the arena to the Tour Magne we took a detour to find the Castellum…

The ‘Castellum’ was the arrival and distribution point for the aquaduct bringing water 50km from Uzès across the Pont du Gard and other structures. More information here… http://www.romanaqueducts.info/aquasite/nimes1/index.html

Looking back from the top of the Tour Magne towards the arena.

The Tour Magne overlooking Nîmes from the north.

The ‘Maison Carrèe’ by night.

And again.

The arena by night.

On Sunday morning we left Nîmes by 8am and drove through fog to meet Bruce & Gill near Rousillion.

On the way to meet Bruce & Gill near Rousillion we passed by the hilltop village of Gordes. We had been herre in 2005 but didn’t have enough time on this trip.

Leanne & Gill in Rousillion. Another place we visited in 2005 and have never forgotten.

The best view was from the top end of the cemetary. Leanne, Gill & Bruce waiting patiently.

The view from higher up in the village itself. Red everywhere.

Seemed rude to walk past without taking at least one picture.

This is the converted farm house that Gill & Bruce were staying at together with three other couples. It is only 1~2km down the hill from Rousillion. We were driven to the village and walked back after we had finished exploring.

We left Rousillion at about 5pm on Sunday afternoon headed directly to Toulon, a two hour drive, where we camped at a cheap hotel, Formule 1, close enough to the ferry terminal.  We had to be in the queue at 7am for the ‘Mediterranean Cruise’ to Ajaccio in Corsica.  More of that in the next post.

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