Wednesday, March 20, 2013

24 hours on the Mediterranean

Hi there, all you snow birds.  We decided, in your honor, to escape south to the Sea.  I have always wanted to put my tootsies in but since Jerry is not a beach guy I knew my chances were limited.  But we found the perfect place, not crowded, not hot, and close:  Sainte-Marie de la Mer (Saint Mary of the Sea).  It is directly south of Avignon on the Camarugue, which is the delta flat lands of the Rhone river valley.

Our other choices were Marsailles, too big and noisy.  Cassis, too hard to get to. Of course there's the Riviera, too expensive.  So, true to ourselves, we went to the poor man's beach.  Actually this place was very cute and only an hour and 30 minutes away.

We started out on Tuesday AM from the Avignon train station.  We got on the 10:15 train to Arles, where we arrived at 10:37.  This train travel stuff is just great!  I'm really going to miss it.  Smooth, quiet, and you don't have to find a parking place.

Arles train station

It was a nice spring day, about 60 degrees and bright blue sun.  The bus depot is conveniently right at the train station, so we waited for the bus to Sainte Marie de la Mer.

the whole ride cost 2.70 Euro each

We drove south through the Camargue, which is really like a wet lands, delta, farm area.  They are famous for the native white horses and black bulls.  Bull fighting and riding are big here but in France they don't kill the bull , they take a red bow off of his head and then that guy is the winner.  Much more civilized.  Bloodless bull fighting.

Here is what the countryside looked like:

We had made a reservation in this little town for a sea side room at l'Hotel Dauphine Bleu (the blue dolphin) and when the bus dumped us off, we had no idea where it was, but we found the Sea and walked along the quay, until we found it.

view from our window

Nice room in a 50's sort of way

We only had a small bag (computer, toothbrushes, sock and underwear.  That's it).  We dumped it immediately and took off to the shore.  It was 70 here and gorgeous.

Yes, Bekky, we do wear the same clothes, but today no fleece!

We ate lunch here up top

peruse the menu

Jerry is having moules (mussels) and of course a small bottle of white wine from Nimes

I got a Royal crepe (ham, mushrooms, and brie cheese)

Lots of mussels...can he do it?


The champion!  Fake picture, he was fine.

This sign says:  WC (toilet) for dogs! :-)

Seth:  the nude beach!  Sorry, they were all inside.

We walked and walked.  Finally, the moment we all were waiting for:
It was cold!

beautiful clear water

Jerry wouldn't do it.

Back to the hotel to rest, then out again.  This time we went to the church Eglise de Notre Dame de la Mer.  Home of the famous "Black Madonna"  Pretty small church, but quite old, 9th century, and in the crypt is the black Madonna which is actually the maid Sara of Mary Magdalene who lived in this town following the crucifixion. 

In May and October there are festivals where she is marched through town and bathed in the sea.  The larger festival is in May when gypsies from all over the world come to pay homage to their patron Saint Sara.  Lots of bull fighting and dancing in the streets.

This town is really more Spanish, Italian, Greek, than French and we were DEFINITELY the only Americans around.  No one spoke English (which is unusual, because most service people do a little). But it is a charming place, and very quiet.  I am sure, during the summer months it is hopping like Nisswa!

still French enough to have pastries

These are big bars of Nougat

As close as Jerry is getting to a bull
The fishing boats

wind kicked up and clouds

Fishing nets by the harbor

all the streets look like this.  I assume they are summer homes or rentals

We noticed a lot of places were closing so we asked our hotel guy where we could eat dinner.  He suggested a couple of places, and one was open.  Les Vagues (which means, the waves).  It was REALLY nice and we had a great time, but NO one spoke English, so it was a crap shoot as to what we were getting.  I normally can tell on a menu at least the kind of protein it is, but not this one.

Jerry had Fish soup with Aioli, and I had cream of mushroom soup.  Then Jerry had fish and I had a steak.  Great bottle of Red Wine from the region.  It was fun and the food was delicious!

We slept well and got up and reversed the transportation process this morning.  Got back in time to go to the market for tonight's dinner.  Today is a ketchup day, laundry, dishes, nothing.  Tomorrow we are meeting Laurence Brun in Arles (another train ride) for lunch and the afternoon.  Can't wait.  Thanks for reading.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi from the "frozen tundra" previously known as Iowa! :o) Garry and I are loving your blog, and have a serious case of travel envy! LOL In fact, we had to do something about it after this last set of photos of your meals....we went to C.R. and ordered mussels from Biaggi's!
    Hurry up and write more!! G and Deb