Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Mediterranean New Year on a whim

Le Grau du Roi streets
December 31 started out as an uninspired day, rainy, lazy yet full of guilt for there was so much to do.  J got up to move the car to our parking garage a few Metro stops away, a side effect of living downtown with strictly regulated and metered parking system.

Then came the first inspired thought of the day: maybe we should go for a drive to somewhere sunny.  Then came the mad internet search for the nearest place of warmth offering an escape from foggy Lausanne. And finally, a plan was born, and we packed to go to Montpellier and Arles in the South of France.

Big Fish and the Sea
Le Grau du Roi

Le Grau du Roi

Small Fish in the sun

New Year's Day 

A mere four-and-a-half hour drive later we arrived in Montpellier.  We had a gorgeous, sun-filled day by the sea in Le Grau du Roi, a place of palm trees and pink flamingo-filled lagoons.  We went on a stroll on the sandy beach and did some people watching before taking a paella lunch at an Andalusian-inspired cafe, complete with an impromptu musical act.  Below is a brief sample of this scene.

In the evening, we drove to nearby Arles, a place with Roman history complete with a 1st century B.C amphitheatre. Vincent Van Gogh notably lived here for a year or two, and completed some very famous paintings his style coming into full bloom while here.  This is also where he famously severed his ear, and the hospital where he recovered from his wound is featured in his work:

Small Moose in the hospital's courtyard

We planned to visit the locale for Cafe at Night, but as luck would have it, we ran into fellow Alaskans in a hotel lobby, and spent way too much time talking and eating crepes.  We arrived late, cafe closed - perhaps it was closed all day for New Year's Day- but here it is anyway, mysterious and deserted.

Van Gogh's Cafe at Night


Arles Amphitheatre


French highway scenery

Happy New Year to all!  In case you're wondering, taking a trip to the South of France on a whim is likely to turn out to be a good idea.  I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting us travel with you. Check out this place for your next visit.

    We miss you Jason...



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