South of Arles

Today we headed into marshland. Before arriving in this area I had not realized that this is rice country. I grew up in rice country in southeast Texas, so on our drive from Arles to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, I had the oddest feeling of disorientation. I felt right at home, even though I knew where I was. People who haven’t experience rice country don’t know the meaning of the word “flat”.

RiceField-2

The town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is like many seaside resorts, with vacation homes and great views of the Mediterranean.

MediterraneanUpClose

I took advantage of the opportunity to get on top of the tallest building in the area, the local church. What I didn’t do was check the time. Do you realize how long it takes them to play the noon-time prayer when you’re standing just a few yards away from the bells?!!

BellTower

But oh, the view is so worth it. I have our friend Jean-Marcel to thank for this. When he was visiting Albuquerque from Paris we asked him what not to miss, and he said the view from the top of the church was a must.

MediterraneanFromChurch

Besides the seafront property, the ornithological park is a great stop. The storks almost eat out of your hand, nesting just a few feet from the walking path.

And who doesn’t love flamingos? Okay, time for true confessions. Until I started preparing for this trip, I never thought about what the word “flamingo” would be without that “o”. Then when I saw a writeup in French about les flamants, I knew the word flamant meant “flaming” in English and how appropriate that was for flamingos. Duh.

On a nice windy day (remember the mistral discussion?), they tend to face into the wind to keep warm, so the wind blows right over their feathers. And at nap time their necks take a very characteristic curve to position their heads to rest comfortably on their backs.

NapTime

But then when something happens, the guards go on full alert.

Lookouts

Our visit to Arles is over. We have a long drive tomorrow, so don’t expect to hear from me. We’ll be sleeping over in Bourges so as to arrive in Brissac at the earliest checkin time possible.

 

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