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Provence

Fountain in center of Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Fountain in center of
Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Our cruise started with a bang. We had shore excursions the first 3 days, after a couple pretty full days in Barcelona. By the time we hit our first “at sea” day, we were ready for a rest. But first: Provence, Tuscany and Rome.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The first morning, our private tour guide met us at the dock, in Marseille. Our specified tour included two Provence vineyards, where we tasted wine, before spending a couple hours in the Provence town of Aix-en-Provence.  This day was another “irony” of the failure of the 2013 cruise to reach Provence, Tuscany and Rome.  I had been indecisive and we lost the opportunity to do the vineyard tour and would have been riding the ship 66 passenger bus to walk around Aix-en-Provence only.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Our first stop was at Chateau la Dorgonne. We primarily tasted a number of their fine wines. As seems to have become my norm, I preferred the “redder” bolder wines. But a seasonal favorite in Tuscany is the early season red, Rose’, which is a very light, orange/pink color with a fresh, light taste (sometimes called a “blush” wine). We tasted one of theirs, which was very nice. Our tour guide says that many French people look forward to the early Fall when the Rose’ comes out, but by the time the “season” is over, they are mostly ready to put it away until next year.

Chateau la Dorgonne Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau la Dorgonne
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

We spent most of day in the two vineyards and in the car, so although we saw a lot of the Provence countryside, we did not have much opportunity to stop and photograph. But I would certainly like to go back someday and spend some time wandering around the small, European villages, and the rolling hills that are populated with grapes and other forms of agriculture.
Our second stop was at the Chateau Vignelaure. Our guide had pretty free reign to walk through the vineyard, and we walked into the area where they did the fermenting in stainless tanks, and then decanted into oak barrels to age the wine. This vineyard kept a few bottles of every vintage going back many years. The old, dusty bottles were fascinating.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

As you can also see, the proud owners of these vineyards keep them pristine and true to their original architectural roots. The Vignelaure cabernet was as good as I have had in a very reasonable price range for a private vintage wine of about 27 euros. And, it was good.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

One we finished our two vineyard tours, our guide took us to Aix-en-Provence, which is a destination city (or town) in Provence. With a population just over 140,000, it has a very quaint feel (though it is clearly largely set up to cater to the tourist industry these days). We walked some of the narrow streets to a plaza that housed a handful of nice restaurants, with outdoor seating, where we had a nice lunch.

Chateau Vignelaure Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Chateau Vignelaure
Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence was the medieval capital of Provence. My research indicates that this city is also the location of some hot springs that make the destination a “spa.” We did not see them, “Aix” means water (hot springs) and the word, “en” means of; so, spas of Provence or something close. In the mode of the currently popular Alan Thicke commercial, I think it means that in French, but I don’t know French so ……. look it up.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Interestingly, Aix-En-Provence was at one time, under the rule of Barcelona/Aragon, and during that time, became an artistic center. Today, it also houses a handful of French universities, making it a center of education and learning. Also, interestingly, the U.S. city of Coral Gables, Florida has a “sister city” relationship with Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, France Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Aix-en-Provence, France
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

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