The river and the sea have created an almost lunar landscape over which the huge tour de Constance of Aigues-Mortes stands guard. Arles looks out the Grand-Rhone to the huge expanses to the west  which have some of the most famous, a great alluvial flat of marsh, lagoon and farmland between the two branches of the Rhone. The area has assumed an identity of its own and due to its unique character is now a national park in which landscape and wild life are protected.

Before flowing into the sea just after Arles, the Rhone forms the delta where gypsies believe two saints named Mary were washed ashore. Caravans and trailers are parked against the sea wall, while high-spirited bulls wait for the feria in their enclosures. A single main road runs past the rice fields and peaceful pools with pink flamingos and across salt marshes crisscrossed by narrow paths.

We will stop at the Abbaye de Montmajour , which in AD 948 was a community of hermits, built among the marshes. The abbaye became steadily wealthier and added on a cellar, a church, a refectory and chapels. But for all its wealth , starkness was de rigueur in  the abbaye, only the capitals in the cloisters were adorned.

We will spend time in Arles , which will give our guests a little foretaste of Spain with  its blend of Roman, Romanesque and baroque. Aigues-Mortes, a port king Louis IX built in 1848 will also be worth the stop. Stes-Maries-de-la Mer famous for the legend of “the two Marys”.  Lunch will follow and we will get to enjoy a fish stew at Marius Bernard, the restaurant serves traditional Provencal Fare!.

Anne Suire

Provence, Thanksgiving 2016.imgres-2imgresimgres-1