On Monday, May 26 I left the car park within the compound of the Touratech company where Yvon Bodelot puts at the disposal of customers a very fast Wi-Fi connection which enabled me to publish the update of my website. The target of the day was to traverse the tourist road of the Enclave of the Popes with the highlight of Valréas.
On the way I made a detour to Visan to visit the N.D.-des- Vines vault brood in a small valley close to a fir plantation. When I got out from my truck a sister accommodated me with open arm and the welcome wished me. She was my guide to discover this vault dating from the 13th century to shelter a Virgin with the infant out of polychrome wooden venerated by the popular faith in view of spiritual demonstrations. The choir has one of the most beautiful set out of gilded wood of the South-east of France having required 70 years of work at the 17 & 18th centuries.
Valréas is the most flourishing city within the enclave of the popes. Alas in this Monday of the last week of May all was closed, churches, towers. I sauntered in streets without life nor tourist. The southern gate of the church Our-Lady-of-Nazareth is a good example of the Roman architecture in Provence. The tower of Tivoli is the last vestige of the ramparts of the city.
Richerenches is an old Commandery of Templars built on a rectangular level whose four-angle towers remain. There still the schedules of the tourist office did not enable me to visit the closed monuments; I went my way. On the way I saw the keep vestige of a passed splendor at Chamaret.
Finally I stopped at Suze-la-Rousse, which could be a heroin, Jenny of the Threepenny opera. The castle dating from the Middle Ages was transformed into palate during 16th & 17th centuries by the lords of Baux of Orange. I found a bivouac at Roaix close to Vaison-the-Roman
Vaison it Roman or Vaison-the-Romanesque it could bear the two names indifferently, because the Romanesque is the low city north of bridge Roman and the Romanesque one is the high city in the south of the bridge strengthened with the Middle Ages against the Muslim invasions. The cathedral N.-D.-of-Nazareth was built on Gallo-Roman vestiges at the 11th century in the Provençal Romanesque style. The nave is framed by spans and is overcome by an octagonal cupola on decorated horns.
The coupled cloister dates from 12th & 13th centuries and the southern gallery of the 19th century in which the capitals are richly decorated.
2000 years old Romanesque bridge, is intact except the parapet rebuilt after the dramatic rising in 1992.
My target is not to describe the Gallo-Roman vestiges would be to be presumptuous. Tourist guide books do it better and more learnedly than I could not do it. Admittedly the vestiges of Pompeii are more prestigious but those testify to the history of Gaule and in these disturbed times, loss of the reference marks and absence of the historical values. It was not without emotions that I traversed them. The museum has parts resulting from the excavations testifying to the artistic wealth to the Gallo-Roman culture.
On the way I stopped at the small village of Séguret to admire the narrow streets, the pretty fountain, the belfry and the church, closed, of the 12th century.
On the way I took a picture, by driving, of the belfry of Sablet.
I made a detour to make a short walk of approach of Laces of Montmirail, Mons mirabilis, which are the buttresses of the Ventoux Mount. They extend on tens of kilometers from Vaison-the-Roman to Beaumes-in-Venice.
I strolled in the streets in Gigondas famous for its wine for discovering this charming village whose only monuments accessible in this period on the end of May are the old houses and the frontage of the church!
A last detour by a very narrow road to see the frontage of N.-D-of Aubune. This Romanesque vault has of a bell-tower decorated by pilasters. A footpath offers to the amateurs of walk a trip to Romanesque vaults within the area. I found a very nice bivouac at the pass of the Chain.
At early morning I visited Malaucène at the bottom of Mt Ventoux. I profited from a nice low angle light illuminant the buildings. The strengthened church was included in the wall of the city. It is of Provençal Romanesque style. It was built in the 14th century on Gallo-Roman vestiges. Alas the door covered with bronze sheets was closed. Being next to the church the Soubeyran gate gives access to the old city by very narrow streets bearing evocative names with square in square murmuring fountains. A way leads to the martyrdom on a hill dominating the city and the capped belfry by a wrought iron bell-tower, like everywhere in Provence. The sight on the surrounding landscape is sublime with in background the Mt Ventoux.
Not without anxiety I launched my truck on D 974 to the attack of the Mt Ventoux by pointing out the cycle races of my youth. Now the amateurs climb it with ultra sophisticated machines equipped with last technological refinements. Of course I carried a frequency meter to supervise my heart. No alarm, the pulsations were normal knowing that the physical-activity of the control of a vehicle does not require physical effort. On the other hand I stopped at the Mt Serein, 1420 m of altitude, to make a walk of about thirty minutes. The frequency meter recorded an acceleration of the pulsations higher than that at the sea level for a similar activity. I noted an acceleration still higher at the Mt Ventoux, 1911 m of altitude with a sharp cold & a strong wind.
After a frugal lunch on a rest area at the exit of Bédoin I attacked the Gorges of Nesque whose Michelin map N° 527 announced some tunnels with a maximum vertical clearance of 2.5m, but it is true on the roadside but in the middle the noted minimal height was of 3 meters. The landscape is sumptuous but less arid than in the Gorges of Verdon & Daluis.
Sault, village of Provence located on a rocky outcrop, is the old capital of the county. At its feet cultures, of wheat, lavender & spices constitute a very colored patchwork. The church N.-D.-of-the-Tower is 12th century of Provençal Romanesque style attested by the porch and the nave. Alas the museum of the Gallo-Roman history was closed! The town is the base of hikers and cyclists for the rises. I found a bivouac at the exit of Aurel on D 542.
On Thursday, May 29 I decided to traverse the small narrow secondary roads in deep and hard France. Thus I passed on the Plateau of Albion, where the silos of the nuclear warheads at the time of the cold war were buried. The large ears are kept by a regiment of the foreign legion! Why not. The Plateau of Albion is a genuine causse with more than two hundred pits which absorb rainwater re-appearing at the Fountain of Vaucluse.
I continued my motorized excursion, alas I flunked the junction to visit the Abbey of Valsaintes on D 201. The Gorges of Oppedette or more exactly the Canyon of Oppedette due to its narrowness is 2.5 km long dug by Calavon river with a 120 m height walls. The deserted car park is an idyllic place of bivouac. Again I missed the junction for the Priory of Carluc before Reillanne on a secondary road without sign post. Not easy when there is no road sign!
Finally I arrived around 9:30 at Forcalquier, extremely well indicated on the local small roads. The Tourist office was opened, which happiness, and well documented with a tour to visit the main sights. Alas, as usual many buildings were not accessible, the little referred streets, very often dirtied by the dogs and stinking the piss of cat, it is also that France!
The cathedral N.-D.-of-Le Bourget was built at the 12th century with a transept in Latin cross of Romanesque style but with additions in the posterior centuries. I have the privilege by entering to be accommodated by a concert of organ on one of the more remarkable instruments in Provence. I stayed a long moment of plenitude and unexpected meditation.
Like in all the medieval cities many squares are decorated with a fountain dedicated either to a divinity or to a local character.
The city was a Earl's capital and it says it…
From Castle of the Earls of Forcalquier it remains nothing; the hill is now occupied by an octagonal vault, closed. The St Jean church of the 12th century is in the state of ruin.
Many doors of private mansions preserved their original aspect.
Finally of strengthened ramparts only the gate of Cordeliers still remains and for a few times jet. Further the convent of Cordeliers, after many historical vicissitudes, was restored to lodge the European University of savors and the scents, a whole program.
The priory of Salagon, at the entrance of Mane, is clearly indicated, I went there at the beginning of afternoon. It is restored and managed by the General Council of the Alpes de Haute-Provence as well as the museum and the ethnobotanical gardens(!) the booklet explains “… plants to tell men…”. At the beginning the site was a Gallo-Roman agricultural vast domain, then was transformed into religious habitat occupied by various congregations. Finally it fell into the deprived field at the French Revolution like national property passing from hands to hands to fall in the public domain of the General Council of the territorial division, which trip!
The small museum tells the story of the lavender, its culture and extraction of essential oil. The ancient pictures are full with charm and testify to the human conditions. I approached Manosque which I visited the following day, an unspecified bivouac accommodated me on the edges of the EDF channel.
On Friday after a rainy night, I left the edge of the channel as of early dawn to ensure me to find a parking space close to the gate of Soubeyran. Well took to me because the car park announced by the Green Guide book was under work; the accessible part was very reduced but there remained still an exiguous space. The city was integrated into the Roman empire thanks to its proximity to the Domitian Way which connected Italy to Spain. It was entirely destroyed into 900 by Muslims. Then the manosquins returned to rebuild it towards 974 after Guillaume, earl of Arles, had driven out them from Provence. Of strengthened enclosure of the Middle Ages and its four gates they remain about them only two partially rebuilt at the 14th century.
Along the Grande street connecting the two gates some decorated shaded squares with fountains as well some buildings with beautiful doors surrounded by narrow lanes structure the medieval city agreeably.
The N.-D.-of-Romigier church located on the square of the Town Hall is of Provençal Romanesque style with a Renaissance porch. It shelters two remarkable sights. The altar is a Carrere marble sarcophagus representing the twelve apostles with hands raised towards God. The Black Virgin of pre-Romanesque time which according to the tradition would have been found by a plowman whose oxen would have knelt in front of the bush under which she was buried to protect her from vindication Muslims. Closed down the church receives temporary exhibits.
The St-Saviour church is set up on the eponymous square. Of Provençal Romanesque style it was rebuilt after the raids Muslims then increased at 16th & 17th centuries. Outside on the left side street Voland & by raising the eyes it is possible to see two engravings stones, one shows a pilgrim with his stick and the other a hen with a snake. Inside the organ of 1625 was remade in 1826 by Piantanida, celebrates Lombardi organ-builder. The left side aisle shelters a Virgin with the Infant.
The town hall dates from the 17th century with one of the prettiest frontages of the city.
The center Jean Giono, writer & child of the town of parents of Piedmonts origin, are lodged in the oldest private mansion out the walls of the city. At the time of my visit only the ground floor was accessible.
The Carzou Foundation is housed in the vault of the convent of the Presentation from the 19th century whose walls are painted with surrealist frescos by Carzou representing his vision of the apocalypse at the 20th century. Alas it is opened for the public only in the afternoon. To wait I tasted garlic mayonnaise fish on the square of Town hall. My waiting was not disappointed. I point out that contrary to the popular meaning, the apocalypse is not a catastrophe but the announcement of the revelation of Jesus Christ. The work of Carzou started in 1985 was inaugurated in 1991 and occupied approximately more than 660 m². The allegory of Carzou is based on the massacres perpetuated by men, the extermination of the Indians, the genocides, the holocaust and well of others like on biblical references, Large Prostitute (Ap. 117). His trail starts with a nuclear field flown over by four supersonic planes, the riders of the apocalypse (Ap;6,1-8) for finished by the redemption by the Woman-tree symbol of hope and revival and finally by a last allegory with Adam and Eve surmounted by the triumph of the lamb. In his presentation Carzou written: “I wanted to represent the Apocalypse, the climate of our time… My goal: fear of the year 2000, a little like the fear of the year Mil… It is the new world and the Heavenly Jerusalem… The ships wait for installed towards a Cythera of dream… Finally it is the triumph of the lamb and the terrestrial paradise.”
|Nuclear field flown over by the four riders of the Apocalypse|
|Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot||Armenian genocide in 1915|
|Dictatorship, swastika, hammer & sickle||French Revolution, the guillotine|
|The Great Prostitute, Babylon... Rome||The Luxury|
|The light haloed Virgin, triumph of purity||Women-tree symbol of hope and born-again Earth|
|Millet's Angelus||Hope, Adam & Eve, the triumph of Lamb|
With due respect to the despisers, the Christian religion is integral part of our republican culture, which is with variable geometry according to the political obedience of the speaker, to deny it is to show narrow-mindedness even to uncultured. The religious facts could not be unaware, not occulted to understand the evolution of the world.
My participation to the Travel Event 2014
organized by Touratech was opportunity of
visiting three micro areas by
partially following the tours proposed
by the Green Guide book. Of course my comments
sometimes borrowed without shame the
writings of the guide book as well as the booklets
available on the visited sites. I point
out that my website is an invitation to the
journeys here or elsewhere but into any
case an encyclopedia.
The reading of qualified works is highly advisable before the departure and undoubtedly after back to look further into acquired knowledge. Provence was marked by the raids of Muslims (from 830 to 990) destroying, plundering and killing with a rare cruelty. The knowledge of this history makes it possible to understand the recent election results of the area. The Jihad is not a new fact, it is a religious fact.