Yesterday was a free day, so we did laundry, then our hostess drove us to the TGV station where we got our tickets back to Paris on the 28th and where we picked up a rental car for the rest of the week. After talking to locals and getting recommendations of places to see, Laurie and I decided we needed to rent a car so we could get out in the countryside and really explore the area. So we are still going to the same places as the class, but we are going to do a lot more exploring. After we picked up the car, we drove out to Les Baux de Provence, an old fortified city built on top of a rock at a pass in the hills, which was highly recommended. You can only get there by car or hired tour bus.
Baux is a popular village. There were a lot of people visiting the village, a lot of large groups of bicyclists slowly making their way up the hills into the city, and lots of tour buses. We parked in the village in the valley below Baux and walked up on the the stone stairways that brought us to gate 6. Just below the gate there were areas where buildings had been built into the rock that were now just cutouts in the rock that reminded us of the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument. We were going to go into the old fort that would have given us access to the highest points on the ruins of the old fortification, but two or three groups of about 100 schools kids were going in, so that slowed down the process of getting in, and we had limited time as we had to get back by 6:00 at the latest for cooking class.
There are a lot of shops and restaurants tucked into odd shaped places and on terraces. We ate crepes in the narrow, almost triangular building (photos 7, 8, 9). It was pretty late so we and another person were the only people in the restaurant. The crepes were excellent and while were eating, the waitress and cook where busy bringing things in and taking things out the door. When we left, they had set up an ice-cream machine and slush machines and had a soft drinks available on the street. The weather was cool, but I’m sure when all those kids came back through after touring the fort, she would get a lot of business.
We also stopped and explored some of the vinyards and olive groves along the way, and I got my first French drive-by photo of the shark on the truck — the drives can be quite wild in France, but drivers seem quite wild everywhere. BTW we are driving the VW Up! to the left of the Mini Cooper in the second to the last photo.