Provence 2018

Travel to Provence 21 April


Our first BER flight? It all seems to be sagging a bit.

Sunday 22 April Istres

Camping le Vallond des Cigales €19

French people like to bring their pets to the camping site.


45 min. walk to Istres for lunch. Even the giraffes here have that particular French style.


Be yourself! What a motto for our holiday!

Monday 23 April Maussane-les-Alpilles

Camping Municipale les Romarins €23
Really arrogant French policeman on motorbike. Incredibly loud TomTom GPS took us to wrong place. Several Michelin-approved restaurants in Maussane-les-Alpilles! Fantastic optician fixed Gerhild‘s sunglasses for „free“.

Fixed for free – formidable!

All of those provencale vegetables!

Time to extend the loft.

After a little rest of course

Supper on the square.

Tuesday 24 April Baux-de-Provence

Beautiful 4km walk to Baux-de-Provence.



The coolest place to be when it‘s 26 degrees outside.
Carrières de Lumieres Baux-de-Provence

Interesting film about Jean Cocteau’s life and work.

The village has some nice restaurants for lunch.

Wednesday 25 April Avignon

Camping Bagatelle, €23 just across the bridge from Avignon
La Petite Pêche, 13 rue St. Etienne. Fantastic 3-course Dorade (whole fish each) lunch with a thyme jelly dessert. Incroyable €15,- each menu du midi.

Watch out Avignon, Gerhild’s coming.

Is it Gerhild or trompe l’oeil?

Now Conservatoire de Musique but used to be where the popes kept their spare change.

Horsing around in the papal garden.

What’s left of the famous pont d’Avignon and the papal palace


Thursday 26 April Apt

Camping-les-cedres €15

A song and dance on leaving Avignon

Apt cathedral – we never did find the entrance

Friday 27 April Dignes-les-Bains

Camping les Eaux Chaudes €19.50

Musée Gassendi a veritable cabinet of curiosities.
The first two curiosities

A perpetual motion machine.

Old master meets a pile of jewel-lined digeridoos.

Two moths clinging to the window (made of banknotes).

Kim in French philosophical conversation with the master of the house.

A tame butterfly who will land on anyone’s hand

Part of the large collection of butterflies.

This museum has the only intact example worldwide of a fossil mermaid!

Saturday 28 April Dignes-les-Bains

Today we visited Alexandra David-Néel’s home in Digne-les-Bains

But first of all we walked to a park with some Andy Goldsworthy cairns, a butterfly sanctuary and some water-based art installations.

Our camp site’s valley

Digne-les-Bains on quite a hot April day

Musée Promenade
A cool artwork with practical value.

An Asian artist made this which reminds us of a restaurant in Rosenthalerstr. in Berlin.


Alexandra David-Néel sang operas, was a feminist activist like Emily Pankhurst, was the first western woman to visit Lhasa in Tibet and drank tea with yak butter which I thought smelled quite yukky, not yakky (although none of the French sniffers in our guided tour group seemed put off).
wikipedia Alexandra David-Néel.
This portrait of the great lady is supposed to be made of yak butter.

More yak butter work. If it melts in the sun that’s fine, nothing is eternal in Buddhism.

Alexandra was quite a pretty teenager, dressed up here for some unspecified performance.

The simple house where she lived after returning from her travels, until an age of almost 101. Free guided tour in French.

Sunday 29 April Entrevaux and Tourrettes sur Loup

Camping la Camassade €23

Rain was forecast for today so we drove to Tourrettes-sur-loup, stopping for a picnic and a poke around Entrevaux. Had a nice chat with father & son bakers about bread and “brexshit” as the older man proudly showed off one of his important bits of English vocabulary.




After all of the bends in the mountain roads, Gerhild is happy to frolic around the meadow in the campsite Camping la Camassade €23 with borage casually growing by the wayside.

Monday 30 April Fondation Maeght and Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Today we were up early enough to be practically first through the door at Fondation Maeght


Look carefully and you can see a bird nesting on her head.



Groovy architecture!



The Korean artist Lee Bae did some nice things with charcoal youtube link (French), which are almost impossible to photograph nicely.

On the way home we stopped off in Tourrettes-sur-loup, which is very pretty. We took a free book from their book-sharing cabinet – Cold Water by Gwendoline Riley.





In the evening, we enjoyed listening to Jazz Radio.

Tuesday 1 May Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Parc des Maurettes €30

On the way to Nizza, we stopped of at Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a picturesque mountain village visited by coachloads and one camper-van load of tourists.

Olga’s favourite angel!

All of the shopkeepers felt inspired to go all artistic (Fondation Maeght is just up the road.)

The village church shows the French approach to things on the cherubs/mermaids front.


Fantastic pizza served by a one-eyed cook who Gerhild thought looked like a real pirate.

Prince Charles feeling the pressure

Wednesday 2 May Nice

Today we ate at Badaboom, which was delicious and not too extortionate. Charming American waitress. The straws came from Costa Rica and are some sort of bamboo!


More public French philosophy. No need for translation, I think.

A super cool French chocolate rabbit.



The garden of the Marc Chagal museum in Nice. Nice size and good audio guide (despite pesky 120 dB schoolchildren)

The creation of man 1958


Thursday 3 May cap d’Antibes

Today we walked around the Antibes peninsula, in the footstep of the Rolling Stones, Sean Connery and from now on Kim and Gerhild.

London has millionaire’s row, Antibes has billionaires bay…




Some Russian oligarch’s weekend retreat?

Friday 4 May Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Swimming our way, heading for Nice.

Sentier du littoral



Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild – the creation of one of the richest women on the planet, at the time.
Béatrice Ephrussi-Rothschild- 19 years old.


One little chair was for Beatrice’ dog, the other was for her mongoose! The lady in the pitch opposite to ours has one for her cat.






So much energy we did a second walk sentier du littoral.

Saturday 5 May Cap Dramont

Camping Campéole du Dramont €30 Location right next to the beach! Facilities


Peeling potatoes 🥔 for a salad.

As the sun slowly sets in the west…

Listen to the original rolling stones

Sunday 6 May Cap Dramont

The small island, l’isle d’or, behind Kim is a nice reddish colour (porphyry) and its tower is said to have been the inspiration for The Black Island in Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin.

In 1897 Léon Sergent bought the Isle of Gold from the French state in an auction for 280 francs. In 1905, Dr Auguste Lutaud won the island in a game of cards. He decided to build an 18m high tower. When it was finished in 1913, he proclaimed himself Auguste I, king of the Île d’Or and organized a sumptuous party. Stamps and coins were made, showing the Island. In 1961 the island was sold to François Bureau, a former naval officer, who renovated the tower and lived in it until his death in 1994 during one of his traditional early morning swims. The island still belongs to the same family and if a flag is flying, then the tower is inhabited, just like Buckingham Palace!🇬🇧


A nice round walk starting directly from the campsite.




Monday 7 May Château de la Napoule

Today we went to Château de la Napoule, the home of Henry Clews Jr. and the famously beautiful Elsie Whelan Goelet Clews, a rich couple dedicated to the arts. He was a sculptor.

What is it and I wonder what Henry and Marie would have thought of it?






Leaping recycled dogs just Gerhild’s taste.

What a profile!



Gerhild was very happy to see this sign!


Tuesday 8 May VE Day

Today we ate breakfast to the surprising sound of 1940’s music echoing charmingly through the trees. Thinking it might be a funfair we walked over to find that, amazingly, it was a Victory Europe (VE) day celebration with loads of carefully looked after military vehicles – even including a period BMW motorbike. A memorial site had been set up around a landing craft in which colonel R. D. Parker landed with 190 men at 8 o’clock in the morning on 15 August 1944 on the beach which we can see from our camper. Today is apparently a national holiday in France, known as ‘Victoire 1945’ or ‘La Fête de la Victoire’.








Wednesday 9 May Commanderie Peyrassol

Camping Domaine la Cigaliere €20 super showers.

Standing above the village of Flassans-sur-Isole, in the heart of the hills of the Var, the Commanderie Peyrassol was founded in the 13th century by the Knights Templar. It was a popular staging post and a place of rest for large numbers of pilgrims setting off for the Holy Land. In 2001 Philippe Austruy, a French man who made a fortune from private clinics and retirement homes, purchased the property and gave it a new lease of life adding loads of contemporary art.









Breakfast !

Thursday 10 May Cannet des Maures

Camping les Ruisses

DIY sculptures in the front garden.

Looking for lunch

Lac de Sainte-Croix

This delicious fish and potatoe dish is called “marmite”, no not marmite , but marmite, French [maʁmit] for a large, covered earthenware or metal cooking pot. British Marmite was originally supplied in earthenware pots, but since the 1920s has been sold in glass jars shaped like the French cooking pot. You learn something new every day!


Everyone is welcome in Provence, whatever the shape of your camper.


Friday 11 May Gorges du Verdon & Castellane

Camping Notre Dame Castellane €? Kim’s ACSI review

Lac de Sainte-Croix is filled up by

le Verdon

Take a paddle boat to inspect the gorge.




Let’s pop up and see the church of Notre Dame, up on that rock




A few monks doing the same walk as we did, in their case to celebrate the end of a cholera epidemic.


Saturday 12 May Castellane




Sunday 13 May drive to Aix-en-Provence

Camping Chantecler €25

Monday 14 May Aix-en-Provence

First impressions of Aix – cheap and cheerful café for lunch

Back to the 18th century in Hotel de Caumont, un hôtel particulier.


18th century man holding up the roof


20th century Hitchcock holding up the local cinema

Chinese figure striking the hours


Tuesday 15 May Aix-en-Provence guided tour & musée Granet

Today we had a private guided tour of old Aix (we were the only ones who turned up).

Pavillion de Vendome

Oh no, it’s them again!


The Granet museum likes goats …

Mirabeau showing the way

Cezanne’s bathing women, apparently painted from pictures as he found real naked women too distracting.

Work by Kosta Alex, new to us.



Tromp l’oeuil used to cut your window taxes, now it’s just for fun.

Wednesday 16 May Bibémus quarry, Fond. Vasarely & Akram Khan

Busy day today, we had a guided tour through the quarry where Cezanne liked to paint, visited Fondation Vasarely and went to Pavilion Noir to see Akram Khan.

Bibémus quarry
This lovely, warm orange-brown iron oxide colour was what they liked for the buildings in Aix, so they quarried stone here until the mid 19th century. When it was closed Cezanne had himself taken up here on a horse-drawn cart to paint.


The original over 100 years later



Fondation Vasarely


Each picture is the full height of the building – a group of hexagons like a honeycomb. Slightly different style to Cezanne.



Akram Khan – Chotto Desh

Thursday 17 May Route de Cezanne, Mont Sainte Victoire

One of Cezanne’s favourite subjects was a mountain ridge including a peak called Mont Sainte Victoire. Apart from climbing up it, the best view is from the D17 now glorying in its new rebranded name of “Route de Cezanne”.



In the foothills there’s a good collection of vineyards.

Friday 18 May Château La Coste

Château La Coste, a really beautiful location with some nice art, again paid for by a rich hotelier who dropped in via helicopter during our visit. The Villa La Costa hotel on the hill offers rooms at about €1000 per night.


Andy Goldsworthy again – an oak room.


Tracey Emin’s self portrait – a cat inside a hard oak barrel!

A drop!


Saturday 19 May back to Berlin

Depart Marseille 20:30
Arrive Schönefeld 22:45
We drove a total of 1156 km which is about 45 km per day. Renting the camper cost about €100 per day and the campsite fees were about €20 per day. Eating out (usually good food) was expensive compared to Berlin.