Wednesday: Beaune

We left Vichy at about noon and drove to Lyon. There we picked up our daughter who flew from London to go home to the U.S. for the holidays.

The drive was about 2.5 hours, but with pouring rain it took longer. It also took longer because we tried to find a pack-and-ship place so we could send home one big, heavy box so we wouldn’t have to lug it home. We were not successful – the one we found just took prepaid packages – and we may just check it with our luggage. Meanwhile, we were thankful that her flight was on time.

From there (still pouring rain) we drove to Beaune, about two more hours nearer to Paris. We will stay there tonight. So – it was a day in the car, but necessary.

photos; The Christmas tree at Lyon airport; ancient bridges oureside Lyon; the end of the day, in Beaune

Tuesday: Vichy

We had a relaxing Tuesday in Vichy. After a couple of raisin pastries and coffee at a patisserie in the city, we were off to the Hall des Sources. This 1903 building is where the medicinal Vichy water is sourced. The water is said to cure all kinds of ailments and to be good for overall health. There are a few different thermal springs in the city and sourced in the building, but only one of them is accessible to the public. The others are only available with a doctor’s note.

We tried the water. First you have to buy a cup from a machine. It is sort of funny to insert €.25, press a button, and have an empty cup drop out, but that is what happens.

The water is from an ancient-looking faucet and tasted slightly salty, not refreshing. I had read that people fill up bottles there, and they must be forcing themselves to drink the water because really, it was not good.

Next we checked out the old opera house. The building is beautiful and used for all types of performances now. There is nothing scheduled until a dance troupe this weekend.

We had lunch and walked around the park, then went back to where we are staying so that I could attempt to consolidate some of our luggage.

photos: on the doors of the opera house; the Hall des Sources; holiday stars in the park

Monday: Vichy

We drove four hours northwest to Vichy today, a step toward Paris where our car is due back in a week. The massive strikes throughout France leave our exit plans somewhat questionable.

Regardless, we stopped in the town of Vienne, France for a long lunch and then drove on to Vichy – about three hours from Paris. We will spend a few days here and see how things go. The city is busy and nicely lit up for Christmas. We walked around a bit but since it is Monday most stores are closed. We will check them out tomorrow.

photos: Vichy’s entrance to a paet of the city; Vienne, where we stopped for lunch; interesting Julius Caesar chocolate heads being sold in a bakery in Arles this morning.

Sunday: Nimes

We took a side trip from Arles today and drove to Nimes, about a half hour away. Nimes has ancient Roman ruins that are wonderfully preserved and right in the middle of the city.

We visited the Musee des Beaux Arts first, with masterpieces from the 1400s and 1500s, and others from more modern times (1600s to late 1800s). They have a beautiful restored mosaic in the main room, and some interesting sculptures throughout the museum. It was a nice visit.

The amphitheatre was our next stop. It is right in the center of the city and similar to the one in Arles – maybe a little smaller. The arena was used for bullfights, animal fights, and even public executions back in the day and it is still used for bullfights and miscellaneous performances.

We also visited the Carre d’Art, a contemporary art museum which was featuring an exhibit of Peter Friedl’s presentation: Teatro Popular. This exhibit was honoring 18th century Portuguese street performer Dom Roberto. It was an interesting presentation, although the rest of the museum – its very modern permanent collections – were not as appealing especially after seeing the ancient masterpieces earlier.

We ended the day back in Arles and will drive to Vichy in the morning.

photos: a jug from the 1500s at the Museum des Beaux Arts; the Nimes amphitheatre; part of the Peter Friedl exhibit – puppets