Thursday, July 24, 2014

Aiguèze

Trip to Ardèche- Day 2

There was a pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the canyon of Ardèche. The beau village of Aiguèze, glistening in the Mediterranean sun. Sorry for going all lyrical, but Aiguèze had that effect on me. Even if you're a moronic stone-hearted clod, one look at this place and you'll find yourself dragging out a scrap of paper to scribble out a verse rhyming Moon with June. Or possibly May with Day.

This beauest of beau villages is right at the end of route D290 snaking along the rim of the canyon of Ardèche. You get your first look at it across the river, poised on the other wall of the canyon. Unfortunately, Blandine couldn't stop the car for me to take a photo. But here is another long-shot of the village, taken from a low hill atop the village. Just remember it looks a lot better from across the river...


The first thing you see on entering the village square is the bust of this nice old gent (no idea who he is), and behind him, a nice old church...









Aha, but who is this depressed chappie under the olive tree? Blandine chats him up. Nope, I'm not jealous. I have some way to go till I start getting jealous of brass.



There's a ruined medieval castle guarding the village riverfront...


Strolling down the cobbled lanes of the village...






...we come across this disused workshop of a bygone artist...






And right beside it, this magical cobbled side lane sleeping in the sun....

The photo captures just a fraction of the magic. It is hard to describe. I wanted to pull up a deck chair (not that we had one), and contemplate this side lane for eternity. There was something so restful about it. And that includes the cherry red vespa parked at the back, and the black cat prowling up and down. Here is the same lane, seen from the other side.



A couple of other nice houses...


And then this one... the house that Jens built (or bought). A sunny patio viewed through the grill...



And even sunnier terraces hedging on a private cliff at the back...


A long shot of the house from the hill...


Blandine took one look at the name plate and wriggled her nose. 'Un Néerlandais' she hissed. It seems the Brits and the Dutch are buying up all the nice rural houses in the South of France. To the extent that some villages are now more Dutch then French. The original French owners, it seems, prefer to sell their holdings and live in the big bad city. Hey, I don't blame Jens. If I had enough money, I'd like to buy that house myself. In fact, I've almost made up my mind to do so. The day I'm a rich and famous author, I'm going to call up old Jens and ask him if he's interested in selling. It's the kind of house you look at and wonder if the people who live in there are ever unhappy. Although, if you asked Jens, I wouldn't be surprised if he came out with a long list of grievances. Starting, probably, with taxes.

After that, I climbed a low hill that gives a great view of the surrounding countryside. Blandine stayed behind to contemplate the Jens house. A friendly black collie appeared out of nowhere and accompanied me. I thought he wanted something to eat, and offered him a biscuit. He politely refused. He guided me up the hill, and pointed out the best spots to take photos from. And then he guided me down, wagged a friendly goodbye and headed back home: an al fresco restaurant at the base of the hill. It seems the collie belongs to the restaurant owner. Which probably explains why he wasn't interested in my biscuit: he gets to eat haute cuisine all day long. He seems to have taken it up upon himself, as a life mission, to guide tourists up and down the hill. Too bad I didn't think of taking his photo. Anyhow, here are the photos he helped me shoot:-






By the way, in that last photo you can see where the canoes all land up. This is where the canoeists who start their trip at Vallons Pont d'Arc hand over their plastic dinghies and head back home, lighter in the pocket. No idea how they get back to their cars at Vallons. There must be a bus or something.

It was time to ring an end to our trip to Ardèche and head back home. Blandine needed a pick-me-up. We headed back to the town square for a beer at this cosy café. I sneaked a photo of a couple sharing an ice cream with their dogs.



On the way out, we came across a group of locals playing boules in the town square. I'm rather proud of the middle pic. Note how I managed to capture the boule in mid air. Please be impressed. It isn't easy with an iPad.






After that it was bye-bye to Ardèche... By the way, if you still haven't figured out how to pronounce Aiguèze, you aren't alone. Blandine and I had a long debate on it, on the way down. It seems the inhabitants pronounce it A-GEE-ZHAY. They ought to know.










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