Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old Towns, New Towns, Markets, and Ruins

Notice the Roman bridge on the right side of the picture
Vaison-la-Romaine is a quite popular town in our new region of Provence, and has a large, weekly market. We grew to enjoy a morning browse through the Provencal markets, so we drove over early to Vaison-la-Romaine as we'd read parking could become a challenge. While we found parking quite easily, we were so grateful to have arrived early because by mid-morning, the market was so crowded as to be unenjoyable as well as stifling hot in the maze of streets that blocked any breeze. This market was our least favorite - I think that because of it's size, the quality of goods was diluted. There were many more booths of what "cheap crap," so we had to hunt a little harder for the fun stuff, including our picnic lunch fixings. We had more of a late breakfast picnic just to escape the growing crowds and found ourselves sitting by a clear, rushing river just downstream from a Roman bridge built about 2000 years ago. What is remarkable about it is that a 1992 flood washed away all the modern bridges in the valley. Guess which bridge was left standing? As we explore so many incredible buildings and structures in Europe, from bridges to palaces, my engineer husband is constantly remarking on how we can't build things like this bridge anymore - I'm sure I've written about this before. Either we don't have the techniques, the skilled craftsman to do the quality handwork, or, most importantly, the money. Vaison-la-Romaine's bridge makes the point perfectly. We dawdled by the river for awhile watching a lady play with her dog while we lounged about eating cherries (fresh, market cherries - so, so yummy), then decided we'd best do at least a little sightseeing.

Just in case you've
never seen a squat toilet
Vaison-la-Romaine reportedly has some wonderful, Roman ruins in the New Town. We skipped those and opted for a climb up to the medieval, hill town. There, I found my one and only squat toilet. I'd been concerned that many of the public toilets I'd find in France would be such things, but so far, France had gifted me with numerous, easy to find, free, clean, stocked with tp and soap, public toilets. Medieval Vaison-la-Romaine is where I met my fear. At 26 weeks pregnant and a belly that had popped, I had grave concerns that squatting down to the floor would result in me not being able to get back up without some hand and knee placements in spots I'd rather not have any skin touch. But also at 26 weeks, sometimes bathroom breaks become vital. This is already too much detail, so let's just say that things worked out and I remained clean.

Back on the road, we headed to Orange to see the Roman theatre there, supposedly one of only three in the world with the acoustic wall still standing. A couple of fun facts on Roman theatre, one of which is more gruesome than actually fun:  (1) In plays, if a character was to be killed, a condemned prisoner would take the place of the actor at the last minute and actually be killed on the stage, and (2) the first Italian drama was developed right here in Campania (here as in our home, Campania, Italy, not Orange, France). Orange was a wonderful town. Bustling, with a large, newer town surrounding the old town, we would have liked to do some more exploring...but relaxing back at our hotel garden sounded more appealing to our aching feet on this very hot day, and this trip was all about skipping the high powered sightseeing and spending time relaxing.

1 comment:

  1. Thankfully, I've never seen, much less had the fear of actually "experiencing," such a toilet. Bless your heart.