Monday, January 22, 2018

Rocks in my head . . . back up to the chateau.

Pt 6 - The Summer Trip

Rocks in my head?  What the heck do I mean by that!

It might mean I'm off my rocker. Now that I'm an old lady, now that I lag far behind everyone else on walks, now that I can stumble over my own feet, how inconvenient is it that I have this urge to climb to summits this far along in my lifetime? This urge only came up within the past two or three years. Before, I was more like, "Here, take my camera up there and take a picture for me." I can't say I got over being afraid of high places, but the fear somehow diminished.

In the initial years of my travels to France, our tours would visit opulent palaces such as Versailles, chateau after chateau along river valleys, both broad and narrow, and along Paris streets, cathedrals, formal gardens of the landed, rich beyond counting. We'd queue up among herds of others to stream through royal bedrooms, held back behind carved rails and barricades that keep us from wandering near to where a queen or king slept, at a slow, aching pace.

"Perched or hilltop villages. . . ."  One day a perched village was on the itinerary. The term intrigued me at the same time it frightened me. It sounds of high places and I already knew that I might be challenged by my fear of heights. It is what it sounds like: a village, winding its way up a steep hill, with limited and defensible access that gives protection to its residents. Mostly the buildings and walls are built from hewn stones, and the paths and roadways are paved with cobblestone, sometimes random but other times arranged in a clamshell-like patterns, similar to what you can also see in Paris streets. It's getting difficult for me to climb these steep, rough pathways. It's a slow, painful task, so I usually go alone, so as not to hold anyone back. I love these stones! 

We are going again to Vaison La Romaine. Last year, when I made this hike to the chateau there (see here), I got as close as I safely could. I hope I'll get that far again and that I'm just as jazzed by the experience.

Vaison la Romaine

I glimpse the chateau ruins on the hilltop from across town through a notch between rooftops, and zoom in so it shows up as more than a tiny dot. I've never been all the way up into it because I daren't.  But I do want to get to the sign that warns of the danger of falling, a bit lower in elevation than the chateau's foundations. Truthfully, I'm capable of falling at any step on the route, but there's no sense in challenging the warning sign.

This is the upstream approach to the village.

Market is held in the "new" part of town below the Ouvéze River. The hill, topped by the old chateau ruin, has shops, cafés, and restaurants along its lower roadway, and access to little hotels and  residences screened by walls and gates and tall thin trees. These mostly obscure vistas of the town and surrounding countryside, except from a small plaza part-way up.

Ouvéze River upstream

Ouvéze River Road upstream

Ouvéze River downstream
Trying to tweak this so that the exterior building walls look (more) vertical!

Memorial for the World Wars 

The one overlook from the hillside . . .
and its views

Cobblestones and stone walls
Handrails where available . . . . Otherwise I dig my fingers into
 the cracks between the stones to pull myself up the hill.

What beautiful stonewalling!

The end of MY trail

Rewarding self with Salade Niçoise

End of Market . . .
Fabric vendor packing up

When we all find each other at the rendezvous point, we'll be off to the lavender distillery.

Pt 1 - The Summer Trip  see here    
Pt 2 - The Summer Trip  see here
Pt 3 - The Summer Trip  see here
Pt 4 - The Summer Trip  see here
Pt 5 - The Summer Trip  see here


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