Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fontaine de Vaucluse

We set off from Gordes on a cool foggy morning, perfect for walking.

The trail wound between the ubiquitous dry stone walls.

We never got tired of the stone contrasted to the many shades of green from the foliage.

Because it was so damp here, there was a lot of moss on the trees.

The trail wasn't always smooth and flat!

Sometimes it was a bit of a struggle and I was glad of my hiking poles. A twisted ankle here would not have been a good thing.

The view in the distance was beautiful, softened by the fog.

We met a group of French walkers who told us about an ancient olive press and since it seemed quite complicated, their leader went half an hour out of his way to lead us there.

The holding tank for the oil had a green tinge, probably from the oil. He told us that they used donkeys to turn the stone to press out the oil.

It was carved into the side of the cliff and finished with flat 

Here I am, stretching my French language muscles since he had lots of information and no English. I think I got the gist of what he was explaining.

These different bins were for each person's olives

As we left, about a quarter mile from the cave, we came across this hole where they dumped the olives down into the cave.

More dry stone walls but, thankfully, a flat paved section of the path.

But not for long!

We didn't expect to see cactus in Southern France...

We met the same walkers at a later crossroads. Here they are waving  goodbye after sharing advice and setting us on the right track.

We came across this yard that obviously belonged to someone who loved mosaics.  The entire place was decorated in this style.

Now we began walking through olive groves.

Here was a welcome bit of shade as the day was heating up.

It's always a welcome sight when you find the markers that tell you that you are on the right track.

This was marked as a cistern on our map. we thought it was a town until we arrived here.

Lots of stones and uphill. The day was getting hotter too.

Here we are about to head into  a deep gorge which was tricky walking but very scenic.

Another welcome sight, telling us that we were almost there...

Going down, down, down.

This cliff is visible for miles.

Almost there!

This was the first time I ever  saw mating  snails. At least that's what we assumed they  were doing.

These caves seemed to have been cut into the cliff. This  area has been settled since Roman times.

This placid green river runs through the center of town.

Catching a rest. Whew!

We loved this moss covered paddle wheel.

Everything seemed to be mossy and old.

Possibly the best hotel of the whole trip.

It had a  great view.

And a stream running through the courtyard.

And definitely the best breakfast of the trip. There were so many choices that we couldn't even taste everything,

Apple pie for breakfast? Can't be bad!

The source of the river.

Exploring the mossy rocks by the river.

Then a bit of retail  therapy, the best cure for tired feet.

These were different vinegars.

We paid a visit to the museum of Santons, which are little clay figures. The woman in charge was a fanatic and had lots to say. More struggles with my French.

They were often placed in elaborate backgrounds. Very interesting but I decided not to start collecting when I saw the prices charged for them in the shops.