The Image Goddess

Paris to Provence, Côte d'Azur & Beyond

This archive so far contains just a few highlights of a 1998 trip upon which the Goddess and her best minion embarked, beginning in Paris with a brief stay in the St-Germain neighborhood (courtesy of our lovely friend Frances), then quickly moving along - uncontaminated by French World Cup enthusiasm - to Montpellier (via TGV), where the World Cup final match was being observed with much festivity. (More, in fact, than we had ever before witnessed in French people!) While in Montpellier for a week, we explored and enjoyed that wonderful city thoroughly, and found time for a trip to the nearby ancient walled city of Carcassonne. Our next base of operations was Brantes, a truly tiny perched village in the Hautes Alpes overlooking Mont Ventoux (I did say perched - it was way up there). This was a prime location for wine tasting (we did a day trip to Gigondas and tasted more wonderful local wines than we should admit at a cave collective), driving through gorgeous countryside, swimming in rivers, picnicking and just plain lazing about.

The lazing ended abruptly with a brief but awe-inspiring visit to the Gorges de Verdon, an amazingly deep and beautiful marble gorge. If you're afraid of heights, this isn't the ideal vacation spot for you. But it may be worth a visit nonetheless. The sturdy can hike the short distance into the gorge on a very steep and somewhat slick trail (marble polishes right up with all that foot traffic). The swimming at the bottom is divine, but make sure you check with the authorities before making the descent - some days they open the dam at the top of the river, and you wouldn't want to be down there when they do!

Some notes on Montpellier: This southern city gets 4 thumbs up, with a large and beautiful old town; the world's best sorbets (cassis, myrtille... serious yum factor); quick (20-min.) and easy bus ride to beaches on the Mediterranean (essential if you're there in summer as we were); and countless great little places to eat good, affordable regional cuisine and drink local wines of the Languedoc region, which the Goddess and minion strongly recommend to those who can appreciate good wines without paying an arm and a leg for them. The same is true of the wines of Provence - our next area of exploration during this visit - from the better known Rhône Valley varietals to those you'll never find in the U.S. The joys of Provence are well documented; let us simply add our voices of assent. If you love to eat, drink, see beautiful countryside, hike, swim, and eat some more, even on a modest budget, you will find all that you desire in a journey through Provence. As anywhere in France, decent command of the language will enhance your experience (especially if you speak well enough to understand l'accent provenĉal); you will get a warm reception everywhere you go and, more importantly, you will be better able to absorb the rich culture in which you are steeping.

Bit by bit, the Goddess is adding to this page images from the rest of our 1998 trip, which also took us to the French Riviera (see below), to Cinque Terre (Italy), and to Vienna and the Czech Republic (including, but not limited to, Prague - a city remarkably reminiscent of Paris in some ways).

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Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris Jardin du Luxembourg Jardin du Luxembourg
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The Seine, aerial view Carcassonne Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
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World Cup fans, Montpellier, July 1998 Young fan gets a leg up from Dad Meat Marketeers, Montpellier
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Aqueduct, Montpellier Cynthia, baking in Brantes Carrousel, Carcassonne
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Brazilian World Cup fans Streetlamps, Montpellier Colorful café, Montpellier Doorway, Montpellier
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Gigondas, land of wine & song Bench and tree, Gigondas winery Ancient graves, Provence
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Sospel, Haute Provence Lavender fields, near Brantes Lavender & Mont Ventoux
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Lac de Ste-Croix, Provence Gorge de Verdon from above Gorge de Verdon, river bottom
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Famous but unprepossessing Pont du Gard Goddess arising from coffin, Vaison-la-Romaine Seguret
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Rocks, St-Jean Cap Ferrat Peillon
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Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris Carcassonne, walled city Chapel, Lou Barrous, Provence Brantes and Mont Ventoux
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The incredible Gorge de Verdon Gorge de Verdon
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Texas finds the Côte d'Azur Sospel Evening lamp, Sospel "Shangri-La", Peillon
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Château ruins, Nice Port de Nice Peillon (en haut) St-Jean Cap Ferrat

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All images copyright Cynthia Mitchel 2003