La Dune du Pyla

This morning we drove to the biggest sand dune in Europe! I learned that the sand dune moves 5m per year. On the top of the dune it was really windy and sand was blowing everywhere. I used my jacket as a parachute and I felt like I could fly!!!! My favourite part was running down the side of it and spinning around. I had the time of my life it was so fun. – Isaac

The dune is on the Atlantic coast. It is 2.7km long, 117m tall and 500m wide. It is tiring to climb up the stairs and even more to climb up in the sand. Once at the top it is awesome looking over a vast sandland. But it is even more awesome running down the dune. You start by leaping off the edge, then doing somersaults and springing up and repeating again and again and again. Isaac and I were super bushed, but satisfied. -Alexandra

 

 

The dune is advancing towards the forest by 4-5 m each year

 

 

 

 

You don’t see Baruch shivering very often

 

 

 

 

If you squint really hard you can see Nova Scotia

 

 

 

Hoisting the flag at the top of the dune

 

Taking a break to warm up with hot chocolate

 

 

 

 

We were all hungry but weren’t stoppin’ here for a treat on the way home

 

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Pâques

Dad made us a little treasure hunt since today was Easter. He did a really good job of it too, I had quite a bit of trouble trying to find the treasure! There were lots of places to hide stuff since the yard is so big! – Isaac

Easter was awesome. The scenery where we hunted for treats was from a storybook, rolling green hills and French farmhouses. It is peaceful and laid back here. – Alexandra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross Country to Berrac

Today we drove and stopped and drove and stopped some more. We saw the Roquefort cheese caves, it produces awesome cheese. Mamie’s house in Berrac is so cute, it is a typical French farmhouse. The village is very peaceful and friendly. – Alexandra

Today we went on a drive to Berrac across the hillside. At Roquefort, the stairs went down until you came to a cave like room where the cheese is. It’s down in the natural caves because the temperature is just right all year, so the cheese can mature in the perfect climate. I tried the cheese and it is really good. 5 hours later we arrived in Berrac and I realized how small it actually is. I bet 20 people live in Berrac!! (Actually 10 full time -K). What I especially enjoyed is the fact that the town is made 90% out of stone. The place where we are staying is amazing, it’s like a mini castle to ourselves with a huge backyard and a garden. From the other side of the town we had a great view over the French countryside. I had a good sleep in our cozy little castle – Isaac

 

We’ve realized there’s a gorgeous castle on the top of pretty much every hill in France.

 

 

We passed this crazy zip line adventure course. Unfortunately for the kids, it was closed.

 

We passed a few of these stone circles on the way.

 

Our Skoda

 

Isaac has been having problems with motion sickness on the road in France.

 

 

Cirque de Navacelles

 

Baruch stopped to investigate this abandoned building and got more than he expected…

 

He almost stepped on an Asp Viper. After looking up the species of snake he learned that they have retractable fangs and usually do a ‘dry’ bite in defence, and when hunting can administer more or less venom as they choose.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking towards the church in Berrac.

 

André was Mamie’s husband, and he renovated their adorable farmhouse in Berrac over many years.

 

 

 

These are the rolling hills around Berrac

 

 

 

 

Sur Le Pont d’Avignon

We went to Avignon. We saw the Pope’s Palace and the bridge of Avignon. We had a picture of us dancing on the bridge of Avignon (who remembers the song? – K). That night we had raclette for dinner. It is where you have potatoes and meat and then you have a mound of melted cheese on it. It is so good. – Alexandra

Later in the day we set off another massive firecracker inside of a watermelon. The whole thing exploded leaving pieces all over the yard!! – Isaac

 

Outside the Palais des Papes

 

Above the Pope’s Palace. It does not belong to the current Pope, it’s a monument now.

 

We walked along this tiny street, inside the walls of the old city. It is the street where the people who dyed cloth used to be.

 

 

 

What’s left of the famous bridge

 

We need more living walls like this back home

 

Raclette=yummy! The cheese slowly melts under the heat and then you peel off a crispy warm layer of cheese and pile it on the food on your plate.

 

Marie-Noelle carving Benoit’s ham to have with the cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Théâtre-Antique

In the morning we went to a Roman Amphitheater that’s 2000 years old!! It’s all made out of stone, except for the roof made out of wood, but it was burned down by barbarians in the 400’s. The theatre used to be divided into sections of wealthy and poor people with walls in between them. It projects sound from the bottom to the top so everybody can hear the show. The actors have caves on the inside of the theatre so they can cool off. It’s absolutely breathtaking! – Isaac

It has such good acoustics from the way it was designed. At one time village people lived in the theatre. It could hold 10 000 people at once. The actors had to practice so hard. It was a demanding job. Comedies and tragedies were performed there. The artist’s mask was also important to symbolize a character. The wall is run down and gives a dramatic effect to the theatre. – Alexandra

 

 

 

The head on the statue was removable so they could change it depending on who was in control of the roman empire at any given time.

 

 

The acoustics here really are amazing. From the top you can hear the sounds of gravel under the feet of people walking in front of the stage.

 

 

They have live performances here all summer long. Ballets, operas, rock concerts. How amazing would that be to see?

 

This is the 3rd Arc de Triomphe we’ve seen on our trip.

 

In Orange we stayed with Benoit and his family. He is the brother our friend Olivier. This is Benoit’s son Paul

 

Louanne, Benoit’s stepdaughter.

 

With Mamie, Olivier and Benoit’s mom. We have met her before at home.

 

Benoit and one of the three musketeers.

 

 

Benoit, Mamie and the rest of the family were so generous with us. Marie-Noelle is a fabulous cook and even made us many types of pastries from scratch. Benoit cures all his own meats and makes sausages etc. that we got to sample. (These skills are in addition to their normal jobs). There was little English spoken, so along with the extra pounds, we gained more French vocabulary.

 

On the left is Thomas, Benoit’s eldest son.

 

 

A lock on the Rhône, close to their home.

 

 

Lavender and Borries

We explored a lavender museum. It showed how the oil is extracted. There are two types of lavender, fine lavender that only grows in Provence, and lavandin that grows around the world. After we went and saw some bories, ancient stone houses. It wouldn’t be very comfy to live in. – Alexandra

I learned that lavender can be used for curing headaches or for falling asleep and a lot more. In the museum part there are very many machines from a bunch of different time periods. When I walked into the store I immediately got hit with a fantastic smell. Later on we went to a preserved stone village, the houses are allied borries. The last inhabitants abandoned it in the early 1900’s. They’re super neat little houses. We stayed in a cute hotel right beside a castle. – Isaac

 

Early in the day we toured the beautiful streets of Aix-en-Provence

 

We also took a tour in one of their electric cars used for public transport

 

 

A roadside mill on the way through Provence
Another tiny chapel carved into the rock in Pierrelongue
Arriving at the lavender museum.

 

The museum is full of distilling machines from all time periods

 

 

The kids got ‘homework’ to do in the museum on facts about lavender and the process of distilling lavender essence

 

 

 

The gorgeous ancient town of Gordes perched on the hill overlooking Provence. We stayed right behind the castle at the top of the hill. The castle is now used as the town hall.

 

 

 

 

Borie village
Synonyms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from our hotel room over the Tuesday morning market and the castle

 

Isaac got to try out his new spy toy from our window on the unsuspecting crowds below. Too bad his French still needs some work.
This guy gave us so many delicious sauces to try on fresh baguettes that we didn’t need lunch
Got some cheese from these guys
Enjoying our pain au chocolat in gorgeous surroundings

 

 

Lady Moura

We left Cinque Terre on tiny windy roads that were worse than the ones in Laos. We drove through Monaco for fun. In the bay there were tons of yachts, the fanciest had 61 permanent staff and to top if off it is worth $220 million. I don’t know how fun it would be to have that much money. I just like being normal. – Alexandra

It’s a super small country, yet super rich. In one of the docks Dad spotted the 24th biggest yacht on Earth. Even the name was in gold. – Isaac

 

 

Casino MonteCarlo

 

 

Odysseus

 

 

 

April Fool’s Update – I made the kids and Kim oreo cookies with the delicious filling replaced with toothpaste – Isaac and Alexandra fell for it. Kim was on to my tricks and didn’t have a bite but I had success with the old salted toothbrush trick. – Baruch