September 8, 2014

Nyons to Malaucene

This has been happening to me a lot this trip: with several major exceptions, in the evening, the day's experience seems somehow merged into one unit, and it is hard to pull details out. Why that happens escapes me just now, but I suspect it is caused by longer mileage most every day, busier roads, less time passing through small villages (this isn't the Pyrenees or Cevennes) and less time spent stopping and looking.

That doesn't mean I don't enjoy it, it might mean that this trip is thus far more about the biking. The same thing happens to me on long rides at home. By the end of a 60-mile ride in the Berkshires, details from the morning are absorbed, interwoven into my day, but not as a million distinct images and moments, more as a nonverbal experience. Since I am an extremely verbal, left-brained type person, I couldn't begin to tell you what that means.

But today was a second rest day, my ride of only about 25 miles. And, for whatever reason, my camera viewfinder came to life, with the message "memory card error." I changed cards, but unfortunately all my morning "photos" were not photos at all. Three strikes. Photos of Nyons were not to be had. It is a shame, Nyons is beautiful, photogenic, and I had time for photos.

The ride to Malaucene was easy, and late morning I stopped in Vaison-la-Romaine, home of the largest publicly accessible Gallo-Roman site in France. The ruins cover about 75 hectares, or 185 acres, and are remnants of a large, prosperous city. I stayed there for several hours, exploring the ruins, then eating a late lunch.

So, photos from the ruins.

First, this ancient city incorporated many huge houses, gardens,work spaces, stores, baths, etc.

Goods were imported to Roman cities in France from Italy, Turkey, Syria, all over the Mediterranean. And in turn, goods were exported from France. Many were moved in large elegant vessels like these. I have often wondered how these vessels were handled when not in display structures like you see in museums. Maybe they were corked, and laid carefully side to side, or upright. I don't know.

Of course, there was an arena and a theater.

And, for those who like mosaics, and anyone cuckoo enough to go to one of the coldest cities in the US in the winter to look for birds, here are some old birds.

Forgive the reflections, the bust is in a cage, but this head is made of silver. Solid silver.

Literal-minded me, it never occurred to me that the channels moving water through Roman cities were covered. Sometimes they were covered with arches, sometimes with large flat stones. I've only seen them open before, so assumed stupidly that they were used open.  

Sabine was the wife of Hadrian, and so Empress of the empire. She lived from 83 to 136, and like Eleanor of Aquitaine hundreds of years later, was an strong-willed and independent woman. This is one of the most beautiful sculptures I've ever seen and made me want to know her.

I love the way the old and the new sit together in daily life.

Last, the hotel garden where I am staying in Malaucene.

Tomorrow, Mont Ventoux!



  1. Hooray for the returning viewfinder. What a splendid site. Has there been much reconstruction or is all that you have shown us original? Round here, all that stone would have been taken and used to build farm houses.

    1. It was a brief return, again departed now.

      Those stones ... I asked myself the same question. Took some photos of walls and placards explaining them (unfortunately they images didn't register) that lead me to believe they are at least mostly authentic, though I am not certain. I also think the site was discovered fairly recently, and is only partly excavated. Which leads me to think the stones may heave been protected because they were underground. But there is a lot of conjecture there.

      Definitely a place I would like to return to and spend some time. Didn't get into the medieval city at all.

  2. I like the "cuckoo" pun. Kind of hard to tell what birds they are from the angle, but two of look like ducks--maybe a pochard?

    Keep having fun.

    1. Hoped you would like that ... and a pochard?? And, I will ... you also!

  3. I was so enjoying your random photos, The ones that you didn't know what you were taking photos of but still determined to be worth a try, they both became and made your story. Thanks for the return visit and memories of Vaison la Romaine


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