Today was a fun change of pace. It was great to get out in the country with a rental car seeing plenty of interesting scenery. I rented a car today mainly to visit two sites: Pont du Gard and Les Baux.
Pont du Gard is part of 30 mile Roman aqueduct to Nimes. It's a massive bridge that allowed the aqueduct to span a gorge. My visit to the Pont du Gard is one of the main reasons I came to Provence and it was worth it as you will see in the pictures below.
From Pont du Gard I headed over to Les Baux, a rock top Castle and Medieval town. On the way to Les Baux I drove through Avignon and near St Remy. Avignon is a city of about 100000 people to the north east of Arles with a few Roman features and many narrow streets like Arles. St Remy is the birth place of Nostradamus.
Les Baux is a very interesting area and probably somewhat more impressive than the huge Roman aqueduct. However, it's sad to see how Les Baux is deteriorating with time. The rock formation in which it is built is gradually being eroded by the elements and the tourists.
For both sites it is interesting the ponder their place in history. Just image the water flowing through the aqueduct bringing life to Nimes. Or life in the Castle, the Medieval town, or the farming that has taken place around the castle for hundreds of years.
My car rental experience was basically a non event. I picked the car up early this morning and dropped it off late this afternoon after touring about 120 km of the Provence country side. My GPS device proved its worth yet again today. The navigation capabilities of this device made my trip seem as though I was travelling through familiar territory back home. The only issues I encountered, if you want to call them that, were a couple cases were I went through new roundabouts (traffic circles) that didn't show up on the device and on my way back into Arles a street was recently converted to a one way and the device tried to get me to drive down it the wrong way. Aside from that, the device was great. It gave me advance warnings for up coming changes in the road and clearly pointed out when and how I need to navigate turns. The down side to this device is that it makes driving so easy that I'm afraid if I keep using it I will forget how to read normal maps or road signs!
Driving in Provence kind of reminded me of driving near my sister's place in North Hatley, Quebec. However, the roads here were in much better shape and in some cases much narrower. In fact, in some places the roads were so narrow I thought I was going down a one way backwards, but I wasn't.
Renting a car here is just like anything else, you need to shop around. I got my car from Hertz. Their rate was almost half of what Avis wanted and yet the car was great. It was almost new with only a few thousand kilometers on it and it was quite peppy.
Here's a few photos from today. They are mostly of the two main sites I visited.
My rental car. It said Corsa on the back, but near the gas cap it said GM, so it must by some European version of something made by GM. It was quite decent to drive and had a reasonable amount of power.
I thought it was interesting to see to the radio tuned into FUN FM when I picked up the car, because that's what I had today! That's not to say I haven't been having fun until now. Today was just a different sort of fun.
The following are a few pictures of the Roman Aqueduct. A few of them have people in them so you get an idea of the size of this thing.
Les Baux is actually a town in Provence that extends into the rocky hills around the castle and medieval town.
This picture of a picture should give you a good idea of how the castle and medieval town are laid out on the top of the hill.
The church near one of the entrances to the medieval town.
A fellow dressed up in period costume.
A trebuchet, a massive machine for throwing large rocks during a medieval war.
A catapult, another massive machine for throwing large rocks during a medieval war.
The farm land at the base of the hill around the castle. Just think about it, this land has been farmed for hundreds of years!
A shot of the medieval town.
One of the many interesting roads in the area which are really fun to drive on.
These photos of the castle should give you some idea of its magnitude. I explored almost the entire castle. What was most surprising was how much it is deteriorating, especially in places like those stairs that going up to the top. Like the big warning signs say, going up to the top is almost dangerous. Arles if just below the horizon to the right of center in the first photo (it's about 15 km away).
And, another shot of the medieval town.