I know what you’re thinking…how dare I be depressed in the South of France? But honestly, winter depression is like my annual birthday stiff neck; it’s a tradition I can take with me anywhere. Then there’s the little fact that I never got around to getting a French prescription for Prozac and have been anti-depressant-free for months, but that’s a whole other post.
The point is, while I did spend a good deal of time lying in the fetal position, weeping and watching “Real Housewives” reruns (thus exacerbating my self-loathing, but at least not to Kardashian levels) I did manage to unfurl myself on occassion, and go some places and try new things. I just didn’t have the energy to write much about them. The fog of woe dimmed both my experiences and consequently, my memories of them.
Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’ve gone back over my photos, my research and the scant notes I scribbled at the time to reconstruct the experiences in order to provide the following brief travelogue.
Facts: An ancient fortified village on the coastal salt marches in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. The foundation of Aigues-Mortes was said be built in 102BC, but the first known mention of the place was in the 10th century AD. Was a safe haven to protestants in the 1600’s. Today it’s a charming walled village with boutique hotels, shops and many cafes and restaurants.
My notes: This place would be really romantic if I was with somebody who loved me. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
PONT DU GARD
Facts: A Roman Aqueduct in the Languedoc Roussillon region. Built approximately 2000 years ago to transport water to the Roman city of Nimes from a lake about 25 kilometers north. The UNESCO World Heritage Foundation calls it a feat of engineering and artistic genius.
My notes: Okay..so this thing is thousands of years older than me and it looks sooooo much better than I do.
Facts: Uzes was what they call an admistrative village back when the Pont du Gard was being built. 10 minutes from the Pont du Gard, it’s charming with tiny medieval streets and a beautiful square. As an added attraction, the Haribo factory and museum is nearby.
My notes: See that homeless person by the bakery? That’ll be me in a couple of years.
Vienna is a beautiful city in Austria, filled with amazing art, architecture, history, palaces and pastry. I went for the Christmas markets. Nobody does Christmas markets better than people with harsh Germanic accents.
My notes: This wurst is probably the closest thing to sex I’ll have for the rest of my life.
Facts: The Camargue is basically a huge wetlands in the South of France between Marseille and Montpelier. It’s preserved, untamed and a little like the wild, wild west. Due to the location, climate and salt deposits, It’s home to a lot of rare species like white horses, a certain breed of black bull (Taurau, which is also a dining staple) and flamant rose (pink flamingos).
My notes: Even the flamingos hate me.
Facts: Technically Arles is a part of Provence, but it’s also considered the capital of the Camargue. It served as a Roman Center and port for centuries, but is perhaps best known as the city where Van Gogh lived from 1888 – 1889. In Arles he created over 300 works of art. This is also where he cut off his ear and sent it to the prostitute he was in love with (as some legends have it).
My notes: Nobody will ever love me enough to cut off their ear for me.
Facts: Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Rhone, Avignon is a walled city in the Vaucluse department of Provence. Its main claim to fame is its history as the home of the papacy during the short time in the 1300’s when they weren’t in Rome (the Palais des Papes). Avignon is combination of medieval spendor, Provencal charm and all the modern ammenities a spoiled American could want.
My notes: I’m pretty sure that bridge is a metaphor for my life.
LES BAUX AND ST REMY
Facts: Two charming villages in Les Alpilles, a small but dramatic Provencal mountain range. Les Baux is perched atop a rocky spur and signs of habitation from 6,000BC have been unearthed here! St. Remy lies on the flatlands just north of the Alpilles and was both Van Gogh’s home when he was institutionalized in 1889, as well as the birthplace of Nostradamus.
My notes: GODDAMNSONOFABITCH I FORGOT TO BRING MY RECHARGER!. FUCK ME!
Facts: Arguably one of the most romantic cities in the world. A gulag of 118 islands separated by canals and connected by bridges and boats. It’s like stepping back into the middle ages with remarkable architecture palaces many with a hint of eastern influence. Venice was once a major trading port, but now it’s mostly a tourist trap. A beautiful, picturesque tourist trap.
My notes: I’ll probably catch some hideous pigeon related disease, die a slow wasting death and nobody will care.
Facts: A tiny inland feudal village perched above the cliffs overlooking the Cote d’Azur. Named one of the most beautiful villages in France.
My notes: If I were to drive off the edge of a cliff on my way back and die a fiery death mangled in that ravine, nobody would give a shit. Except the car rental company.
Facts: A village just a few kilometers inland from Antibes. I guess you could say it’s an ancient suburb of France’s Silicon Valley, Sophia Antiopolis, which despite its antique moniker, is a tech center in France
My notes: I’m archaic and uselss in the modern world. I’m going to die alone and forgotten.
TOURETTES SUR LOUP
Facts: Another ancient hilltop village a few kilometers North of the Cote d’Azur. Home to lots of small artisan shops and is often preferred to nearby, more heavily touristed St. Paul de Vence.
My notes: Another place I can scratch off my bucket list. I guess that means I took a significant step towards death today.
Facts: An osteopath is a medical professional that deals with issues of alignment, musculature and joints. Sadly, as I learned when I got there, osteopaths do not prescribe.
My notes: These needles in my back are probably the closest thing I’ll have to sex for the rest of my life.
That’s about it. Looking back, I’ve gotta say, this has been one of the best winter depressions I’ve ever had!
Filed under: Cote d'azur, Deep thoughts, history, Languedoc-Roussilon, Provence, tourism, travel | Tagged: Aigues-Mortes, ancient villages, Avignon, Camargue, depression, destinations in the south of france, Flamant Rose, Gourdon, Hill towns south of france, Languedoc, Les Baux, Pink Flamingos, Pont du Gard, prozac, St. Remy, Tourrettes sur loup, Uzes, Valbonne, Venice, Vienna |