Sunday, December 30, 2007

Exploring France.

We're back from our 9-day holiday car trip to Avignon, Montpellier, Cadaques, Spain, Carcassonne, and Toulouse. Had a great time. Enjoyed all the space we had in our massive gas-guzzling rental car. It was about time I finally explored more of this country outside of my department/region. And what did I learn on this trip? That this country is old.

First stop was Avignon. We visited the Pope's Palace and the Pont d'Avignon. The French children's song about this bridge was stuck in my head for hours...or maybe it was because my husband wouldn't stop singing it for hours?

Next, we stopped in Montpellier. We failed to do much research on this city before we left, assuming there'd be something in the guidebook we brought. Nothing. So, we just wandered the pretty streets and watched all the people get in their last minute holiday shopping.

On our way to Cadaques, Spain, we stopped in a gorgeous beach town for lunch. Collioure is right by the Spanish border. The buildings in Collioure were painted in bright ice cream colors. I'd love to go back there during the warmer months.

The Spanish/French border was a joke, by the way. We're curious to know when was the last time someone official actually stepped into the customs building.

Cadaques was beautiful as well. I just love Spain. It was cold and wet, but fun sitting on a bench by the water while eating our crossaints for breakfast. This town is famous for Salvador Dali. He grew up not too far away and would travel over to Cadaques to paint. In his adult life, he bought a house in a neighboring port which is now a tourist location. I've never been a fan of Dali's art, but visiting his house gave me more perspective on his life. Strange and bizarre are the first two words that come to mind.

Next stop was Carcassonne. An amazing 13th century Medieval town and castle. My husband was like a kid in a candy store when we strolled through the streets of the Old City. They filmed Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" movie here. We came back to the town for Xmas Eve dinner. The place was a ghost town and scared the bajeezus out of me. I couldn't stop thinking about how haunted the town might be.

For Xmas, we went to Toulouse to visit some friends. One half of the couple was an Art History major and took us around the city to see various churches and other interesting sites. Supposedly, we saw the largest Romanesque church in all of Europe. My favorite activity (other than eating homemade foie gras) was the tour of Airbus and seeing the A380s up close, personal, and naked (without a paint job).

I'm looking forward to more "exploration of France outside of the Haute-Savoie" travel in the near future.


Victoria said...

sounds like a fun trip!

Jennifer said...

Love the pictures. Looks like a grand trip. Did you bring back any ghosts? :)

Tigue said...

My hubby says the last tme he was through the border to Spain right there that there were guards in the building with shotguns...guess times have changed quickly...or you were lucky :p He says they searched the caar and everything. Ick!

joy suzanne said...

Happy happy new year, Emily! All the best stuff in 2008...

Christine said...

No border patrol at the French/Spanish border? Well, that's the Schengen Agreement put into practice :)

The Late Bloomer said...

Yes, sounds like a wonderful and very full, rich trip. I love Collioure too! I stopped through there years ago and would LOVE to go back again -- maybe one day!