Monday, April 15, 2013

Orange is not just a color

April 15

Today we were off to Orange and Chateauneuf du Pape.  We trusted the GPS once again.  As I set it, it said something and then asked a question that needed a yes or no answer.  Naturally, we chose the wrong answer and now know to say no when it asks if you want to “peages” which means something about toll roads.  Live and learn; it was a cheap lesson. ;-)

Orange is a nice city and relatively quiet – the occasional school field trip, of course, but we managed to move around them nicely.  We went to the Roman theater first.  It is an impressive sight!  I suppose there is one somewhere else that is more complete and grand but this one was pretty magnificent.  It is also still being used for at least one production a year.  The front wall is intact – three stories tall – but the pillars and statues and frescoes are not there or are only pieces of what was originally there.  The acoustics are very good – both opera and rock concerts have been held there – and the seats are solid stone so they would require some padding brought from home.

Theaters were part of the Pax Romana, a way to keep the people happy.  It was always free and usually lasted at least a day if not three or four.  Naturally, food was available as were many kinds of beverages.  The audioguide kept gently mentioning the vomitoria but never bothered to explain what those were.  Alas, some of us know a little Latin and some Roman history.  Gross!!

Across the street is a museum with some of the frescoes and pieces of statuary from the theater, also an art exhibit by Belleroche, an artist I am not familiar with.  His pen and ink drawings of Orange were exquisite and some of his paintings of nudes reminded me of Degas.  Kathy, Bev and I stopped for a café between theater and museum but Lee missed the cue so he did the museum first and went out for a pastis while we went there.

As we wandered down the streets to the Cathedral (Notre Dame du Nazareth and all the Saints) and the Arc du Triomphe, we passed through a square full of restaurants and bantered with one of the waiters.  He was a lot of fun – yes, we got his picture – and had been to New York once.  I suppose everyone but me has been there and I really ought to make the trip. ;-)

The Cathedral was magnificent.  Built in the 12th century, it was sacked by the Calvinists in 1561-2.  They wrecked everything inside and stole the organ before furnishing it to their taste.  And then the Catholics took it all back twenty years later (1584), reconsecrating it in 1599.  It has been beautifully restored.  There are six chapels in addition to the main altar.  Of course we took pictures!  We also lit candles and said our prayers.

As we made our way to the Arc du Triomphe, we passed a little restaurant called La Dinette.  Who could resist?  Kathy and I ordered chicken pie and wondered if it came with soggy undercrust and canned peas.  Well!  Imagine having a crab cake-type interior except with chicken.  Then wrap the whole thing in a kind of phylo dough.  Heavenly!  We asked for the recipe but the chef said it was the one thing she hadn’t made – her mother sent it over and was not inclined to share her recipes with the daughter let alone strangers from the U.S.  Sigh….

Not much to say about the Arc.  It is in bad shape but is definitely the model for the grand one in Paris.  It was a nice walk on a nice day.

Then we headed for Chateauneuf du Pape.  The only reason for going here was to taste wines.  The Rick Steves guide to the area suggested a particular cave (wine store, not underground room) where the owner is very knowledgeable and speaks English.  We spent a good hour with Daniele and bought five wines, none of which are exported to the States. 

Then we came home, stopping at the grocery store for essentials – wine, veggies, fruit, cereal, yogurt, tea bags.  We also stopped at a boulangerie for more bread and dessert things.

Now after our spectacular lunch, you would think we would just have cheese, bread and wine for dinner.  But no!  We had eggs, cheese, tomatoes, ham, potatoes and asparagus in the fridge so Kathy whipped up a simply amazing frittata.  It was fabulous!!  The first one she has ever made and it was perfect.  Alas, Kathy has already announced that two meals is all she plans to cook on this trip.  So we will be back to cheese and bread tomorrow.

The washing machine is running, Lee and Bev have already gone to bed and Kathy and I are settling down with our various ebook machines.  I think we are off to Arles tomorrow.  Bon nuit!


Margery said...

Loving your daily entries. Feel like I am there! Can see it all so vividly - except for Marseilles. We were not there. Keep enjoying, and I'll keep enjoying vicariously!

stonecomo said...

Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?
Marge just sent me the link to your trip blog, and I just tuned in. If you get a chance to go to the lavender growing region of Provence, be sure to taste the lavender honey.