Friday, June 23, 2017

A week in L'Isle Sur La Sorge with Mom and the Family

chilling by the pool
The Frescos in Avignon Palais des Papes
Pont du Gard

Its never easy coordinating with nine people when you travel.  One person has the tickets, meeting at one side of the train station, another cabs arrives at the opposite side.  Phones don't work.  But you have to make it work. So we made our way to catch our train at Gare De Leon on the way to Avignon.  There we  jumped in cars and made our way to the country house we rented in L'Isle Sur La Sorge in Provence.  We'd spend the week swimming, jumping on the trampoline, and taking day trips around the area, exploring the Flea Markets of L'Isle Sur La Sorge, Cavaillon, etc. Every day a different market of local treasures to explore.   There's so much to find in these scenes from country life, the food that tastes better, the art, the relics from the past pulled out for everyone every week in these county markets. 

We drove out to Avignon to the Palais des Papes, where the French held the papacy for a generation.  It would not be a vacation if mom was not dragging her kids through Gothic palaces.  Mom was drawn to this spot for two reasons: it is part of the medieval art history survey and its striking place in history, when from 1309-77 some seven popes in a row resided in Avignon, not Rome.

Does it have wheelchair access, Mom charged me to find out during lunch. No, I reported back.  

There is no ADA compliance for 14th century castles.  So we made our way, dropping off mom's wheelchair. Instead, she navigated the stairs, taking in the Simone Martini frescos, comparing them with his frescos in Siena. She had to rest after every few steps, fighting fatigue and poor lungs to explore the art she had adored for a lifetime, the art that took her from Columbus Ga around the world.  Up and down stone stairs we walked, exploring this Gothic palace, its lights, color, architecture and frescos

When we finally made our way back to L'Isle Sur La Sorge, we sat in the back by the pool, grilling food outside.  Mom had a glass of wine and read her book happy to be with her grandkids, enjoying life for a moment in time.  There has been a lot of art she has explored through the years. 

The next day, we made our way out to explore an aqueduct created by the Romans in AD 50 outside of Nimes called Pont du Gard.  The water below was cold and delightful, perfect for a dip.  Teenagers from school were there as were visitors from points unknown to see the monument. 

One guidebook described the site:

And so the week continued, exploring, eating group meals, taking day trips to the farmers markets and historic sites.  Mom always wants to eat at Michelin rated restaurants.  So we explored L'Isle Sur La Sorge, meandering through the little streets, past the church, into the square, eating along the canal. 

Wednesday, we made our way to the plage St Croix, one of the storied beaches of the South of France.   The blue green water rippled onto the sandy beach,  surrounded by trees. Its always a thrill to be on a new beach.  Over the last seventeen years we've explored countless beaches, from the Caribbean to Sicily, from Montauk to  Hossegor Beach in South of France. Playing in the waves, all of those memories roll over me, refreshing me.  This is the feeling of summer.

So much news from the states is nuts.  Sometimes we get the feeling it might be better just to live here. But wherever you go you take your troubles with you.  But for now, we have our version of Crazy King George in charge.  The French have come to describe the US as an oligarchy, not a democracy.  Probably true.

So we enjoyed our week with mom, exploring the L'Isle Sur La Sorge, swimming at pool, eating as much French food as possible. 

Mom told stories about her trips in the past.  And we explored the lovely countryside.

"I remember driving here in 1957, just twelve years after the war, and there was craters in the ground from the bombs.  It was just a dozen years prior," she recalled driving with us.

Her last day, we went to two big French meals, with the whole family.

And Friday, we brought Mom back to Paris for her flight.

The train to Paris was quiet but mom stumbled on her way out of the train.  Will caught her about to fall, disaster averted.  These moments are precarious. 

We ate a final meal at a brasserie in the hotel by the airport.

She told stories about going to Italy with us before will was born, when I found the candy stash in the airplane and kept sneaking out to make my way to the stewardesses and the candy. 

We had a great meal and said goodnight. 

She has her ways. But it was worth dealing with them to spend a week in the country with her. No one knows how many of these trips she has left in her.  And this was probably her goodbye to the country of France that had given her so many meals, churches, images of art, and memories since her first visit in 1957. 

The next day we moved her through security at Charles De Gaulle and bid adieu. 

And we made our way back to L'Isle Sur La Sorge before heading out for three weeks on the Camino Francaise, life changing around us every second. 

Pictures from a week in the country.

Saying goodbye to mom and getting back for three weeks of hiking.

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