My Travel Blog

The Whirlwind Tour Continues

Our tour of Provence continued with a visit to the hill top village of Grasse.  The Cathedrale Notre-Dane-du-Puy has a number of paintings by Rubens and some impressive pieces of silver.  It is one of the most ornate Cathedrals we have ever visited.

“A painting by Rubens.”

“Some of the silver artwork on display.”

“The Cathedrale Notre-Dame-du-Puy.”

From Grasse Neil and Louise took us to the island of Porquerolles just a fifteen-minute boat ride from the mainland.  We went for a short hike and found a fort and old windmill or Moulin as in Moulin Rouge.  After our hike we enjoyed an excellent lunch in the village that included some of the local wine.  Once we were fully nourished we headed off across the island until it started to rain.  I suggested it might be a good time to turn around.  There was some discussion, but ultimately I prevailed.  It was a good thing we turned back when we did.  I could not believe how hard it rained.  Besides, the ice cream cone we had was a lot better than getting soaked.

“The fort on the Island of Porquerolles.”

“An old Moulin.”

“This woman apparently likes pigeons. I wonder who does her laundry?”

The next day we went to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.  This must be the home of the paddle wheel, as they were all over town.  Note that I referred to the paddle wheels of Surge and not water wheels.  The difference is that a paddle wheel uses the energy of the current in the stream to turn the wheel or kinetic energy.  A water wheel uses the weight of the water coming from a source at the top of the water wheel or the potential energy.  It captures the water in a trough or bucket on the wheel and the weight of the water spins the wheel until the water is eventually released at the bottom of the wheel.  I’m pretty sure I have my kinetic and potential energies in order, but if I messed up I will never hear the end of it from my engineering type friends and family.

“One of the many water wheels in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.”

“We had lunch on the patio by the river.”

Our next stop on our whirlwind tour of Provence was Gordes.  Gordes is another hillside village packed with tourists.  It is a beautiful village, but the quantity of visitors in Gordes was a bit of a turnoff. The good news is we found a vase exactly like the one we had purchased two years ago that fell and broke when we bumped a lock a little too hard.  Actually it was very hard, and we don’t do that anymore. Lisa was particularly excited to find the replacement as she loved that vase and was very disappointed when it was broken.  We now have museum glue to hold down our artwork.  Since we purchased Rabelo in 2011 she has transited over a thousand locks.  While I do make some mistakes and bump the corners of the locks on occasion it is rarely very hard.  These past three seasons my barge handling abilities have improved immensely.

“The hillside village of Gordes.”

“Our new vase.”

From Gordes we went to Roussillon, which is famous for its ochre.  Ochre is an iron ore that turn the cliffs red.  At one time the ochre deposits under Roussillon were some of the richest in the world. Ochre is used to make a red wash that is painted on the buildings of Roussillon.  The paint lasts about ten years and then the buildings have to be repainted. You can tell how long ago a building was painted by how red it is.

“Lisa and me in Roussillon. Note the color of the buildings.”

The last night of our tour of Provence was spent in Avignon.  Actually we spent the night at a great little hotel on the opposite side of the river from Avignon at the Hotel de L’atelier.  The hotel was very reasonable, and yet very nice. Avignon is best known for its papal palace when the Pope resided in France rather than at the Vatican in Rome.  Actually at one time there were two Popes one in Rome and one in Avignon.  It was a difficult time for the faithful for no one knew who the real pope was.

“The papal palace in Avignon.”

“The patio at Hotel de L’atelier.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.