Had only been in Cardiff a day and headed back to Bristol (left Huw behind in Cardiff to have time with his family) to fly out to join Marg in her holiday home at Le Castellet, between Toulon and Marseille - an absolutely beautiful part of the world. Had 5 days of touring and kicking back, with Marg driving me to medieval villages through stunning scenery. Provence must be one of the most beautiful areas of France. Weather was hot 33 degrees or more, and it's a great lifestyle in the camp site with plenty of socialising in the evenings with the Brits who own holiday homes there as well. Interestingly, many are retired teachers or Principals and so education was often the topic of interest.
Marg's closest village is Le Castellet an old walled town 505 years old - quaint and beautiful up on the hill. Had my favourite lunch meal there, Moules Frits. The evening was spent with Brits, Norman and Sylvie, playing scrabble which I haven't played since a kid and hence was pants at it!
Went to Aix en Provence to see the Cezanne exhibition which covered many of the artists that had painted in this area from Cezanne through to Picasso. Outstanding exhibition. As we were going to the area where the film with Russell Crowe ,'A Good Year' was filmed the next day, it was compulsory viewing for me to watch the film so that I could relate to where we were going. The town where the film was shot was very old and incredibly beautiful. Couldn't stop taking photos - around every corner was something better than the last. Saw where two of the major scenes were filmed and had lunch in one of them - an outdoor restaurant with a huge fishpond, lined with lovely trees.
Spent a day travelling to the lavender fields driving toward Lyon and then on towards Carnivon. Stopped at Fontain de Cluese to see the the source of the river. A beautiful place. Then up the mountains to Salut where the lavender fields are - another beautiful old village where many bike riders gather after riding up the mountain - can see why the painters loved this area and all of Provence.
On a hot day we drove down the coast to see 4 villages on the French Rivera that Marg loves. First town was Sanary where there is a huge market that goes down to the water front, then to Bandole more up market tourist spot for the French ESP from Marseille, lots of eateries and small expensive shops and pleasure craft, then to La Ciotat which was once a ship building town and now pleasure craft building, a Marine Uni and a revitalised town. Last village was Cassis with a lovely harbour and claques (fiords) with houses right on the harbour - again different to the others. The evening spent at one of the Brits place for drinks and nibbles.
Marg decided to get stuck into pruning the French families trees next door on the last day, as it was a fire risk. They spoke no English, we spoke no French, but they were obviously happy for us to do i as we were supplied with iced tea and food for hours! Marg continued until it was dark cutting away most of their backyard!!
Had a massage before I left from one of the Brits in the camp site and then a drive through peak hour traffic in Marselles, expertly navigated by Marg, to catch the flight to Bristol. A wonderful 5 days which I wont forget - just loved the area - so peaceful and Marg such a great host.
Plane late arriving into Bristol, missed the bus back to Cardiff, waited an hour for the next one and arrived back in Cardiff after 1am pretty exhausted.