The Roman Temple of Vernegues sits in a beautiful glade in the woods, northwest of Aix-en-Provence and just northwest of Lambesc. Most in ruins, but one tall Corinthian column remains, along with some walls and an adajcent Medieval chapel built into the temple walls.
Alleins is a fortified Medieval village with narrow old streets, picturesque doorways, castle ruins on top and windmills nearby. Alleins is located just north of Salon-de-Provence on the plains of the Durance, about 30 km northwest of Aix-en-Provence.
Mallemorte is new on Beyond, an interesting Medieval town with castle ruins and fortified defensive was a much more pleasant place than indicated by the 11th-century origin of its name, meaning bad-death.
The new bridge across the Durance was built beside the 19th-century suspension bridge, still there and the last of its kind intact across the river.
Meyrargues, 15 km north of Aix-en-Provence, has been added to Beyond. A rather plain town, with a dominating castle and a Roman aqueduct, Meyrargues has a top-end hotel and good hikes in the nearby Forest of Peyrolles.
We've added Vauvenargues village and chateau to Beyond. A Medieval village 15 km east of Aix-en-Provence, on the northern side of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, this was the penultimate home of Pablo Picasso, and his final destination.
Le Tholonet village, a favorite place of Cézanne, has been added to Beyond. This tiny village, 5 km east of Aix-en-Provence, has a 17th-century chateau, a 16th-century windmill tower, at sits at the foot of the Sainte-Victoire mountain. Cézanne did a lot of his painting in this area, and ate frequently in a restaurant in Le Tholonet.
The Medieval village of Taulignan is online in Beyond. Located 25 km southeast of Montélimar, and just north of the Popes' Enclave of the Vaucluse, the village sits amidst lavender fields, vineyards and farmlands. Taulignan is a fortified, walled town, with much of the 13th-century walls and defensive towers still ringing and protecting the old village.
Taulignan was a trade-route town, and a passage point for early invaders as well as pilgrims on their way to Compostelle. The silk-spinning building that lead Taulignan's prosperity in the 19th century is still there - now a museum.
We've added a page for Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux, a Medieval walled town in the Drôme departement, that will be a stage for the 2011 Tour-de-France cycling race.
The town has a lot of interesting sites, including some nice gargoyles on the 12th-century cathedral. Saint Paul-Trois-Chateaux was not named for "three castles", but probably as a bad translation of "Tri-castin", the name of the Pre-Roman tribe that resided in this area.
We made a weekend visit to the Drôme department this weekend, suffering a biting cold winter wind to visit the villages of St-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, Clansayes, Chamaret, Grignan, Grillon, Valréas and Taulignan (see the area map). In the tiny village of Chamaret we found this lovely sundial, quite unusual in that it's made from ceramic rather than the usual carved stone or 19th-century paint.
Bright colors and a village scene, with details such as a cyclist, picnickers and petanque players.
We overnighted in Valréas, where we've visited on previous occasions. We managed to visit quite a few villages in one short weekend - the temperature was around zero degrees (C) and the stiff wind made village wandering more like village scurrying, with frequent café stops for re-heating.
We've just learned about a very interesting blog called Le Stuff. Currently and mainly about the Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief, and tracking down the exact spots where scenes of the film were shot.
Le Stuff's blogger is sharing his love of travel, food and the experience of the South of France, and he loves the driving scenes on the twisty mountain roads in To Catch a Thief.
We've built an incredible system of Maps on Beyond, with multiple zoom layers from all of France to regions to areas, to detailed areas and down to very detailed maps. And with scores of "Special" maps of various interesting subjects. All of these maps have been lovingly and painfully hand-built with Adobe Illustrator.
We've redesigned Beyond's navigation, replacing our old side-bar with a new across-the-top navigation with drop-down menus.
Our new, cleaner look should make it easier to find the content you're looking for in Beyond, and the nav-bar stays with you on every page.
This simple-looking change required a massive behind-the-scenes restructuring of the entire ProvenceBeyond website (over 2000 content pages, plus the photo pages), so please bare with us if any link errors slipped by our quality-control team (of one).
Our Saturday visit to the Medieval perched village of Le Broc coincided with a Christmas Village event. These events are common in December in Provence – stands selling local products, toys, crafts and great things to eat. All in an environment of holiday decorations and distorted seasonal music (camp, terrible and fun, all together).
One stand was offering a plate of 6 oysters and a glass of wine for 5 euros, and there was a plate of fine smoked salmon available.
Le Broc village is in the hills only 20 km from Nice and 20 km from Vence, in the midst of other picturesque medieval perched villages, such as Gilette.
Other November snowfall in the South and other parts of France is said to be about a month early this year, indicating (possibly) a longer-than-normal ski season. It did snow chez nous in Grasse this week, but the snow didn't stick, or stick around.
We've added the Alpes-Maritimes village of Briançonnet to Beyond. Located in the back country north of Grasse and south of Entrevaux, Briançonnet sits on a high mountain pass in the upper Valley of the Esteron.
We visited yesterday, with the colorful Autumn leaves on the trees of the village and the surround hills.
Bright orange, yellow and red leaves on the mountain roads approaching the Medieval town of Entrevaux, on the Var river in the Alpes-Maritimes. We drove up through the little villages of Caille and Andon, through the narrow Clue de Saint-Auban, a café stop and Briançonette, then north over the mountains to Entrevaux.
The first photo is on the twisty D911 road approaching Entrevaux. The second photo is at the edge of Entrevaux village, where a small stream comes down from the hills to join the Var river.
We had a great lunch in Entrevaux old-town (in across the draw bridge), at L'Ambassade. Local Autumn fare, finishing with truly wonderful tarte de chataigne (chestnut pie).
The Caille Meteorite, the largest meteorite ever discovered in France, landed on a mountain beside the village of Caille sometime before 1630. Dragged to the village by four oxen, the iron-stone hung around the village for a century and a half, until it was identified as a meteorite and traded to Paris' National Museum of Natural History for a village clock.
On 20-21 November, the Caille Meteorite will leave the Paris museum for the first time since 1828 to be displayed at the Parc Phoenix in Nice. The occasion of the Parc Phoenix display is a mineral show.
The route for the 2011 Tour de France cycling race has just been announced, and we have the information in Beyond's Sports-Cycling section. The route begins in the northwest of France (Vendée, Brittany), then runs southeast from Le Mans to the Massif Central, and then west-to-east across the Pyrénéess to the Alpes.