Europe 2012 travel blog

Ampitheatre for chariot races, fights with and between animals and human duels

The arena. Originally with a raised wooden floor so props could be...

The theatre remains, with todays addition of sound and lighting

A class having a lesson on Roman times

Norbert caught by the paparezzi

Another day trip this time to Arles. First the area was Celtic, then there was a Greek Colony then the Romans moved in, in a big way. There are a lot of Roman 'ruins'. In the middle ages houses were built onto the outside of the Roman walls; in the inside of arenas and really anywhere there was space. But there has been enough restoration done for events to be held again.

After the Romans left, these events were changed to the preferred bull events, (one is to be held next month) This area hasnt had killing of the bulls. The aim is for the matador to get a rosette from the bulls horns. Probably more dangerous for the matador?

ANd then there was the Arena

Concerts are now held in the theatre area with the addition of lighting

AS everywhere in France there have been loads of school groups of children from really young (Monet's garden especially) to high school.

It was an interesting town, and as often has been the case, once the rounds are done we realise there were other areas we would have liked to have seen had there been just a bit more time.

Back at the farm the men were working on the Gite's swimming pool. Norbert, our host, said the family would be over later with farewell drinks. They were, not only with drinks but with a variety of home made 'dips' (tapenade, aioli, and an artichoke one.) Rose is the Provence specialty so that was the wine.

After our little feast he and his wife took us on a walking tour of the farm. The hay barn were the most precious bales were those sold to England and Arab countries and others looking for high quality feed for horses. It had a special name.. Like Champagne the name can only be used for this crop from this area. Very high quality, very nutritious and Norbert admitted very expensive.

We also saw the cattle..the rare breed. THey have the most beautiful eyes, more like the large eyes of horses with long lashes!

Their one horse an old and very loved Percheron draft horse who was given a pat and nuzzled everyone. Their border collie cattle dog was also in on the act as well as an old house dog! THe farm is 100 hectares. Irrigation used to produce 3 crops a year.

We saw some of the vineyards (wine not yet produced but on the 'futures' list. Olives are grown and pressed.

Then it was off to their 'castle' (the old very large mansion we had first seen on driving in. ) for a history lesson. Built by monks in the middle ages it was used as a holiday home and to provide food and rest for passing travellers.

It was also used to breed silkworms and get the silk from them to make into vestments. The family acquired it in 1915. They lived in it until they built a new house (which was around 20 years ago

WE then learned of their future dream, beyond the wine making which the younger son is studying; it is to renovate the 'castle' to use a a hotel, and venue for functions such as conferences or weddings.

We even got the family history. Norbert's family had come from what is now Germany in the 14the century. Christine had a Spanish grandfather. Her parents had been in Algeria and left when that country gained independence from France.

In all of this none of us had a camera, so next morning, hearing Norbert in the swimming area I grabbed my camera and popped up at the wall and snapped. Fortunately it worked; I didn't cut his head off!!

Next morning Norbert shook hands with Pete and myself. I queried whether this was more English then French and when the cheek touching with kissing or kissing noise (I mimed that bit) was used. He said for family, brothers, sisters and close friends. Later when it was time to leave with a twinkle in his eyes (he's a very twinkle eyed person!!) I got the French cheek touch! Then Yve got the same gestures.

We were their first customers. They really went out of their way for us. And we really appreciated it. Great location. Great people.

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