France

This is going to be a very long posting about my tour to France in 2012. Over the years abroad I spent my holidays entirely in Berlin. It became boring and I always had the wish to visit France.

I was inspired by movies such as “The ninth gate“, “The Da Vinci code” and “A good year“. A tip while reading: listen to the score of “The Da Vinci code“.

I’ve had this dream – to visit the movie locations of “The ninth gate” – for a couple of years now and it was about time to fulfill it. My best friend Tine joined me and we started our tour in Paris.

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While I took care of the locations, which we had to visit, she booked all the apartments. The first nights we stayed in a apartment from a french artist. We had a walk from downtown Paris to his place, checked in and left directly to see some of the movie locations, that I wanted to visit.

His place was minimalistic and full of old gramophone records and french comic books.

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The neighborhood was characterized by concrete, flats and parked cars. Still I liked that area a lot. It reminded me of the suburbs of my hometown.

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After a shower, we went downtown. First we bought some real french baguette and coffee. While we sat here at the stairs, I found out by chance, that the restaurant at the opposite site was a Tunisian one.

What a coincidence 😉

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Since I fell in love with “The Da Vinci Code“, I also had the wish to visit some of it’s movie locations. Since years I wanted to visit the chateau from “The ninth gate“, too. So last year I made the decision to go to France for a  road trip. Tine and me started, as I said, in Paris. I took some photos from the locations of “The Da Vinci Code“. The first one was at the Ritz.

Unfortunately, there was a huge construction site.

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Of course I was disappointed. I wanted to get a clear shot from the hotel, but it was blocked by containers and construction vessels.

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A scene that I love, takes place at the Place Vendôme. Robert Langdon figures the secret out and runs straight towards the Louvre.

I was kind of surprised, that little columns and other details where missing in the real location.

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Right behind Place Vendôme was the famous Chopard store, Robert Langdon ran across. Funny to figure out, that the direction in real makes it impossible to run, as he did in the movie.

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I prepared myself with a huge stock of printed scenes from the movies and a solid plan with Google maps of the locations. It helped a lot to find the locations, before we arrived in France.

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Why did I choose “The Da Vinci Code”? I was totally stunned by it’s atmosphere. The epic score, the wisely chosen locations and of course the mystical plot. I couldn’t wait to see the spots in real.

The next one, after the Ritz, was the Arch at next to the Louvre.

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On the opposite site: the Louvre itself. I wasn’t that much overwhelmed by the Louvre, as I imagined. Too crowded, too many tourists with snapshot cameras, too much traffic.

What a shame. Unfortunately we didn’t make it here at night – due to our tough schedule, we actually slept early – it would be much more effective to visit this location at midnight.

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The sky was grey and the air was saturated with humidity.

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I didn’t even want to enter the Louvre. Our Paris stay was restricted to two days and I actually wasn’t in the mood to wait at least 3 hours standing in a row with other tourists.

Next time, I’ll stay a week in Paris and then I will come here again with more time for art and expositions.

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Though, the architecture was impressive.

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We left the Louvre and walked randomly through the streets of Paris.

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In between: check on Facebook, post where you are.

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I was reminded by the architecture of my London trip, ten years (!) ago.

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Bloodline.” “Roseline“.

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We walked past a little museum. I forgot the name, but it was build around a little park. Beautiful place for a rest.

Our next goal was the Eglise Saint-Sulpice, where the evil monk tried to find the cryptex. We found a store for historical miniatures, while we headed there. Private James Ryan?

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Books stores, next to book stores. Unfortunately all in french. And my french is too bad to read an entire book.

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We came across artists, that drew their pictures on front of the endless museums Paris has to offer…

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… and of course, the Seine.

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I can’t recall, when I walked that much before. Our eyes where caught be little artisan shops at the shore of the Seine. Some of them where shot in “The ninth gate“, but I actually didn’t try to find the exact location.

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Inside the church. I tried to be as calm and discrete as possible. Still, the priest saw me, while I took a photo of a photo. Fortunately, he allowed me to take some more shots.

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It took me a while to find the right position for the photo. While I stood there, I realized that most of the locations have been modified FOR the movie. I thought, that “The Da Vinci Code” takes it’s inspiration from the real places, but somehow a lot has been added for the movie. So was the golden plate. It just doesn’t exist in real.

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The parking lot in front of the church. With my next visit of Paris I’ll take some photos at midnight of the movie locations.

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After a long day and miles of walking, we ended up in the apartment. Tine was so kind and did all the research for the train stations for our next station: a concert with “Darkest hour“. Right here on monday evening in Paris.

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I was exhausted, my feet were hurting and I was as tired and hungry as hell. But still I wanted to see them. So we had a quick shower and dinner and started directly to the “Batofar“.

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I didn’t take my camera with me, that evening. But I was definitely glad to be there. We took the train to the Batofar and found dozens of other metal heads. How nice to see these folks.

Here in Lebanon it’s so rare to find (good or any) metal concerts. There was beer, loud metal music and this stunning calm atmosphere right in front of the Seine. Almost like in Budapest with the A38 😉

The gig was massive. Two wonderful support acts and an epic show from the guys of Darkest hour. I even had a couple of stage dives and mosh pits. I was so fuckin’ happy to see the show. Everything was just perfect in that moment.

After the gig I talked to the singer and he appreciated it, that we came from Berlin to see them. HELL YEAH !

The next day, we were going for a long walk in the cemetery of Montmartre.

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Wonderful choice made by Tine. Drizzling rain and humidity. The atmosphere couldn’t be more accurate for a walk in a cemetery.

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This cemetery is epic. Thousands of graves and crypts. They had a wonderful architecture and so many details. It was more like a chase of who would find a more beautiful crypt, like the one before.

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We got lost. Of course. But it was part of the plan.

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Eventually, I noticed that I was chased by a cat.

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It was a beauty.

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Still, she was too shy and didn’t let her to be stroked. She ran a way and showed up a couple of graves later.

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Tine found the right words: “And in the end, we all just end up here…”

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The cemetery had even different levels. Up there, we found larger, older crypts. They were wonderful decorated. Embedded stories in glass, little altars inside them and a lot of holy symbols.

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We had the feeling that time turned back here. Directly in the 19th century. Could be also steampunkish.

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It was good to use the Canon 50mm 1.4f. Perfect tool for available, lowlight photography.

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She still followed me.

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And by chance, which seems to be a strange coincidence to me, we found the grave of Heinrich Heine. Tine talked about him, and we just passed by his grave. How little is the chance, to find him in this gigantic cemetery, without looking for him?

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After two hours, we decided to to back to downtown. First I needed a rest.

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We passed by a inexpensive indian restaurant. They served good food and our journey could continue.

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Time for a self. I tried to learn to focus manually at that time. Fail, I guess.

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We walked the whole way to the Eiffel Tower and found this one here.

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Still lookin’ for ideas for my birthday? Buy me this one 😉

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We continued to see little stores, a museum, a church, some more stores, cafes, more stores, tourists, streets and stores. Suddenly I lost motivation to go any further – did I tell you, that Paris was crowded by tourists? I just had to take a break for coffee.

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And there it was. The magical Eiffel Tower. First time for me. It was impressing, indeed.

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As soon as I stood under it and looked up, my legs began to shake. I’m a fraidy-cat, when it comes to hight. I just couldn’t get up there. In fact, this place was too crowed, too. The queue was just to long for a quick tour up there.

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So we found a map. We decided to have a long walk at the Seine. We rested here for about 3 hours, while we just talked and observed the French.

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They all had dinner directly at the Seine. They brought wine, cheese and picnic baskets with them. I really loved that. The skyline remembered me at Prague. What a beautiful city, Paris is. Later on we walked through a little district, which name I forgot. Full of antique stores, little galleries and restaurants. We had dinner in one of them and walked in the late evening home.

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Arrived. The backyard of our apartment. Home sweet home.

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Like the one in Prague, huh? 😉

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The next morning, we had to get up early. Our next destination was Toulouse. We took a couple of train stations to reach the main train station. It was a pain in the ass with our luggage. Somewhat around 7:30 am, we arrived there. It was dark, cold and I was tired.

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So many destinations, so little time.

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I wasn’t the only one, who was tired I guess.

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I used the 7 hours ride to sleep and read. And just to stare outside the train.

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Almost there. A couple of stops before Toulouse.

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We took our car at the airport in Toulouse and Tine began to drive to our final destination for the next few days: Roquefort-de-Sault. In between, I had to take a stop for dinner again. I can be really annoying, when I’m hungry. We walked through a little village, but it was impossible to find anything to eat here. Instead we discovered a beautiful backyard.

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Peaceful.

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Google maps guided us for the rest of our journey. I was the assistant driver and I hated it. Tine’s style of driving can be a bit frightening.

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A storm came up.

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It was actually that strong, we had to park our car for twenty minutes. We could barely see through all the rain.

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But soon after, sun came out and we continued.

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But still – despite the use of Google Maps – we lost orientation. Somehow it didn’t work at all in that area.

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We reached a little village and I almost starved. I begged Tine for a stop. Sun was still there and I just wanted to have a Pizza and something to drink. Note for myself: Load the car next time with drinks and sandwiches.

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The name of the area here. Typical for France. Vine and a mediterranean atmosphere. I loved it.

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We parked behind a little church and had a walk through the backyards. I didn’t find a place to eat. I felt frustrated.

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While I made the photographs, I had the score of “The Da Vinci Code” in mind. Try that with these photos, too.

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This little fella watched us closely.

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It was around 6 o’clock in the evening. The village was empty. Just some cars, that passed by. There weren’t even people on the streets.

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We walked through some backyards and enjoyed the atmosphere of the little village. It was surprisingly calm. No loud neighbors, no sound of traffic, just pure silence.

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Insert some random texture here. The parking lot was on flint stones.

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We continued our journey. Sunset started and we had about 30 kilometers to go.

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Even only from the landscape, France is eye-candy.

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We found a place to eat. I didn’t even had time and patience to take some photos of that village.

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And then, after another long ride, we arrived in Roquefort-de-Sault.

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We parked our car in the middle of the village and walked uphill to our apartment. Tine booked a place at “B&B Rock Fort” by Phil. Directly in the middle of Roquefort-de-Sault, with a wonderful view over the village.

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It was already late evening, when we arrived. Phil was so kind and showed us the place and he told us some stories about the little village. We decided to stay, instead of having a walk again. It was a long day and we were exhausted from our travel.

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Of course, there was wine.

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Vive la France !

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We talked into the night. Surprisingly, around midnight the streets of Roquefort-de-Sault were full of old people. They seemed to have a meeting there, every evening. It was full of talks and laughter.

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After a couple of minutes, the whole place was quit again. Cute little village.

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Bedtime. I directly fell deep asleep. I recall, that I felt so dead that evening.

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The morning after. Phil served a great breakfast. Orange juice, strong french coffee and homemade bread. Great start for another long day. We woke up around nine and it took us around an hour to finish the breakfast. Sunrise woke us up, while we finished our coffee.

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The village was still asleep.

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Perfect start in the a morning.

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We took the serpentines through the Pyrenees. I wanted to visit – actually my main location – the chateau from “The ninth gate“. The weather was perfect, throughout the whole journey. Sun and hot temperatures.

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Perfect for me, to be the assistant-driver. I took tons of photographs from the landscape.

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Another little village, next to Roquefort-de-Sault.

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And endless serpentines between the Pyrenees.

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After we exited them, we found ourselves in a huge valley.

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And there it was. At the horizon. Chateau de Puivert. It was a strange moment to me. I was so close to reach a dream, that I’ve had now for around 10 years. And then it just came up at the horizon… It felt really really weird to me.

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We stopped our car directly underneath the chateau and walked uphill.

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The landscape around us was impressive. Mediterranean weather, olive trees and the mountains at the horizon.

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That was the trail, that guided us to the chateau. I’ve expected something bigger, I guess.

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Plum trees.

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And again. There I was. Finally. How often have I imagined to stand in front of the chateau.

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It took me a while to realize, that I actually made a dream come true. Not a vague dream like “I want to be rich”, no it was a exact wish that I’ve had for a long time.

I wanted to stand in front of the chateau and I’ve made it. It was a strange, but clear moment to me.

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Soon, this is going to be a fine art print for my living room.

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Inside the chateau. You remember, that Corso went all the way into the tower, over a wooden gangway? I just realized, that the tower was being made up in CGI, as the wooden gangway. In reality, it was destroyed.

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Slightly changed the angle. Horses? I guess some medieval tournament took place there.

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I loved the view. We were the only visitors at the chateau. Inside the tower, we found a little shop for gifts and medieval stuff. I bought a book about the knights templars.

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A panorama. The main tower in front and the wall with the – non existent – wooden gangway to the right. The whole place felt larger, than I imagined.

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The gate with the entrance, to the right.

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The backside from the main tower. I didn’t even know, that it’s possible to enter. It contains a little museum, a church and a dining hall.

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The royal dining hall.

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Inside the tower floor.

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The church. They even had sacred music, that played here for the tourists. Nice atmosphere.

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On top of the main tower. Stunning view above the landscape and the chateau. A shot from the movie – that I haven’t included in the blog – must have been taken from the left side of this photograph. Corso walks on a trail towards the chateau at the horizon.

The only explanation, we’ve had, was that they filmed it from the plain area at the left hand side. Still we wondered how complex and complicated film making, to create such a unique vision, must be.

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Don’t ask me for the name of this village in the back of the chateau. Too many names and places. But it looked really nice. They even had a little airport, where gliders started each 15 minutes.

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After an hour, we went down and exited the chateau. It was definitely worth it.

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One of the last photographs taken from here. It was almost too difficult to expose right. The main gate was hidden in deep shadows, and the court was exposed under bright sunlight. I hope that you can get a little idea of the location, though.

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Goodbye, Chateau Puivert.

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The morning was filled with the tour from Roquefort-de-Sault to Chateau Puivert. For the afternoon, we planned to visit Andorra.

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The area was characterized by huge mountains. It’s the place for ski tourism and winter sports.

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Or downhill 😉

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Look at these slopes. A dream for every rider, I’m sure.

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The highway to the immigration was marked by long lines of traffic jam. I guess, people really come here for tax free alcoholics and IPhones.

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Looked like a typical winter/summer resort to me. You can also name it: boring.

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After we passed the first village in Andorra, we arrived at Andorra Ville, embedded between the mountains, in a valley.

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Concrete, cars and apartments. Could be anywhere. Somehow I expected Andorra to be different.

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I just took few photographs of Andorra Ville. It was all the same. Tourists, shops with sunglasses, cellphones and liquor. I was really disappointed. It felt so cheap, so uninspired. Now I know what globalization means. You can buy the same bullshit everywhere. Gucci sunglasses and McDonalds. Hurray.

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We walked through the city, but I was uninspired, too. I liked the way the city was built. Due to the fact, that the country is enormous small, they built on different levels. It felt like being in a computer game. Well cleaned city, a lot of concrete and dozens of different levels.

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Nice surrounding. I would go there again. Bike holiday in Andorra? Why not?

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Of course: construction sites everywhere.

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The parliament (?). As far as I remember, this was an official building. We sat here for a while in the sun. It was 35° and planet earth burnt.

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Our walk back to the parking lot. Another view over Andorra Ville.

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After a long ride back, we stopped in a small village before Roquefort-de-Sault. We had a walk through a little market and some refreshing drinks.

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A small pub, next to the Centre-Ville. I bought some vinegar and honey as gifts for my parents in Germany.

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Nice and calm place.

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In the evening, we took a bottle of wine and walk through the village.

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A self impression at night.

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We stopped at a little bridge in front of a camping place. We enjoyed the silence, we talked and we kept reflecting on the holidays. So far it was an astonishing journey. We saw so many places, we travelled kind of far and I photographed and visited my main goal.

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Wilma. The dog of Phil. Cute little princess. We packed our stuff, since we had to move on for the Provence. While Tine prepared her stuff, I played with the boxer.

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Our next station was the Provence. Inspired by it’s trailer – which I’ve seen in 2006 in Chicago – I watched the movie “A good year” and had the urge to see the Provence by myself.

Tine loved the idea of having a road trip from Paris and the Pyrenees towards the Provence. Just because of that, we actually planned our trip this way and we headed from Roquefort-de-Sault to St.Gens with our rented car.

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Our first break was in another little village, next to Roquefort-de-Sault.

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We walked down the bridge and refreshed ourselves with the ice cold water, that came from the mountains.

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11am and it was close to 40° celsius. We rested here for a while and we had a walk through the town. Nice and calm place.

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We went further on in the serpentines and suddenly we heard people shouting and laughing. We stopped the car and we saw people rafting here. That’s definitely on my to-do list for the next time.

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Hours of driving later and we reached the mediterranean Provence.

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It remembered me at Tunisia. Same temperatures, same flora. That is the perfect environment for me to live. There is nothing more important than sun and warm temperatures to me.

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Landscape looked all the same, but never became boring. From time to time you could see little farms and vineyards.

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In between: quick break for me to get some food. Salad was enough. It was already to warm, appetite was really low this time.

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In the evening, we arrived in St.Gens. Somehow I completely spaced it to take any photographs of our apartment there. It was a beautiful home, run by a german women and her turkish husband. Perfect breakfast, calm yard and a huge pool.

Somehow my focus was just with the Provence, instead with documenting the apartment, too. Right after we arrived, we started to have a walk through the village and we came by a epic field of sunflowers…

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… and a little graveyard. By the way, vignette hasn’t been added here. It was the fence post.

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Opposite direction towards the town centre.

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The two of us.

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St.Gens is surrounded by rural area. Either fields of wine, or sunflowers.

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We went up a little hill and found a nice part of that village hidden here. A highclass restaurant, a church and for me the place to retire.

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Typical architecture for the Provence. Everything feels light and with a summer feeling. A lot of flowers and plants, chipped of colour and wooden doors, chairs and furniture.

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The backyard of the church. I enjoyed the silence. It was interrupted by an old Italian movie from the television, but that just made the atmosphere better in here.

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The name of the church and some more background info.

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I don’t like religion, but I love the architecture around it.

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I didn’t bring my wide angle lens with me, most of the photographs were made with my 50mm 1.4f lens. With that lens, it’s almost impossible to get the idea of the small alleys and it’s narrow angles, but maybe it’s possible at least to imagine it a bit.

The church and the other buildings where located on a little hill and this part of the village felt like a labyrinth to us.

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And then we found an apartment from a german architect. Unfortunately I forgot his name, but the interior was perfect. Minimalistic, all in white and a 4 floor place, that just caught my breath.

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All in white. Expect for the Mickey Mouse comic books.

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I love a minimalistic kitchen. The focus should be on cooking, instead of tools and plastic. Bialetti, wine and enough space. Perfect.

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And of course large windows, to enjoy the sun and to have a stunning view in the morning and evening. Must have for my place 😉

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The rest of the village. We were located in the north. 8 pm. The only sound: crickets.

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The entire provence radiates an atmosphere of special calmness and peacefulness.

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It’s an inspiring piece of earth.

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Avignon. We’ve reached our next destination. For about an hour and a couple of u-turns, I thought that we might never find the city, but somehow we’ve made it. I had nothing in mind about the city, so I followed Tine’s guiding throughout the entire day.

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The main goal was to visit the old cathedral, within the inner circle of the city itself.

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On our way, we passed by beautiful alleyways, coffeehouses, book stores and boutiques.

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Unfortunately, time was rare. We couldn’t make it into the museum of beau-arts in Avignon. We walked for about two hours through the city – imagine a day with 35 degrees and pure sun.

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Little italian village? No, part of the Provence – welcome to Avignon.

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The church. Unfortunately, this place was crowded by other tourists.

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Fortunately, all these old walls seemed to swallow it’s visitors. We entered the main building and we were surprised by a cool breeze and dim light.

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Photography was allowed inside the church, but I’ve had my 50mm lens with me. No wide-angle, so I didn’t take any shots – unlike most of the other visitors – at all. I loved the whole church / museum arrangement. A lot of televisions with interesting movies about the history of Avignon, impressive sculptings and drawings of it’s owner and custodian, and even some places to rest and to feel the heaviness of it’s history.

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But our day wasn’t finished with a walk through Avignon. We had a long rest at it’s river, before we drove back to St. Gens. We wanted to explore the source of Gens later on.

Self impression at the parking.

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The church of St. Gens. Even in the deepest place of the Provence, religious people built a church in here. It was totally empty, while we walked across it. We only heard the birds and from somewhere far a playing television. I loved the place for it’s calmness.

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We stayed here for a while.

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Though the details seemed to be a bit odd, the atmosphere in this little village was never creepy.

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A lamb and a dog.

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L’eglise du sanctuaire de Saint-Gens. Music to my ears. Click for more details and information about the church.

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An old warehouse. A print with the advertising in colour may come.

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The inside of the church. The doors were open. A gentle breeze cooled us, while we entered this holy place. We actually didn’t really enter, we just had a look inside – we didn’t want to disturb somebody here.

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Behind the church.

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The last house at the end of the road. It’s impossible to imagine the peacefulness of this place here. It was embedded in a valley and all around us were trees and nothing more. For me one of the top places to retire.

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A refreshing drink in between.

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We left the church behind us and kept walking towards the little hill. Perfect location for a Zombie movie by the way.

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What a beautiful place for a rest.

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The closer we got to the source, the more shrines we found.

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Virgin Mary? As atheist, I really have no religious background and knowledge about their  saints. At the same time, I love sculptures, paintings and architecture around that subject.

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A mark, that guided us towards the source of St.Gens.

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We entered a little forest. Sunset was almost finished and it began to get dark. Unfortunately, my batteries lost the rest of their power and I was unable to take more photographs from this location. In the end, the source was a little rivulet, that came out of a hill. It was decorated with holy symbols. Calm, but at the same time somehow a creepy location…

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The next day, we visited the market at Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue. I was stunned by it’s beauty. It was full of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Provence.

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Fresh fruits everywhere.

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Handcrafted cups, plates and knifes. I bought a shoulder bag, some little glasses with truffle-salt, vanilla sugar and a lot of lavender for my shelves.

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A place, that I will definitely visit again. Some small coffee shops are around the market, too. People buy their stuff here, have a rest and watch other people buying these fruits, vegetables and cold cuts. Impressive, what kind of quality of products can be found here.

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Due to the fact that I post this blog entirely in black and white, you won’t the able to imagine the blaze of colours we run across with. Fresh green products, blood red chili. A great inspiration for upcoming cooks.

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Honey, made directly here in the Provence. If I have the chance, I try only to buy local products. I can’t stand shopping in supermarkets, that are full of advertising, bright colours and little pop-up pictures that just want you to buy this sugar and plastic crap. If I can, I prefer to buy stuff at the markets and or shops with local products and food.

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My luggage didn’t offer enough space to make a real shopping tour here. But I will come back in 2014 and then I will make a little packet and I will send it back to Berlin.

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From the 1920’s I found a book by chance… “Tunisia”. I had to buy it. Beautiful old leather piece. I love antique books stores.

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Fresh and local products, where ever you look at.

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Candied fruits. Yuuuuuuuuuuuummi !

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A shop for antique toys. The decoration caught my eye.

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We walked there for about 2 hours. Little fabric roofs protected us from the sun, while we ambled around the market.

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A huge part of the flea market contained clothing, antique furnitures and fabrics. I bought a handmade basket here. 10 Euros and perfect for shopping in little markets like this one, or in Beirut. And even ecological, because it means less plastic bags. Wheee !

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We entered the antique part of the flea market. The entire market seemed to come directly from the magazine “Elle decoration“. I couldn’t bring any from these beautiful pieces with me and I actually would loved to buy them all.

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I especially love this one.

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The flea market was huge. People sold stuff from their houses. It was a relaxed atmosphere here.

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In the footsteps of… Lenin?

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We exited the flea market and started to return to out car. Our next visit would be Cucuron in Vaucluse.

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A view from the back side of the market. Next time I will spend more time in the cafes here.

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Some more impressions from Isle-Sur-Sa-Sorge.

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We’ve reached Cucuron in Vaucluse. In 2008 I fell in love with the movie “A good year”. When I had my internship in Chicago, friends and I saw the trailer for that movie in the cincemas and I knew, that I was going to love that film from the moment I saw it.

In 2008 I saw it for the first time and around that time, the idea to visit it’s locations evolved. I loved the easiness, the locations the mood, the atmosphere… I loved every single moment in that movie. Great work and even better so see it’s locations in real.

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It was so surreal to be here.

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We found a nice panoramic parking lot. Sun merciless that day.

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Some closeups from the village. I imagine the prices for a house must be enormous here.

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We’ve reached the inside of the village, where Max lost orientation, too.

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The whole village was totally convoluted. We had a walked through it, but it was too crowded by tourists.

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We found chique stores, little restaurants and a lot of wine cellars.

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The entrance to a little cathedral.

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The view over the landscape of the Provence was stunning.

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The architecture created this indescribable atmosphere here. It’s definitely worth a visit.

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While I lived now on 4 continents and different countries and I experienced their different cultures, I would prefer to spend a while here in such a quit, moodish place. I think it’s the ideal place to slow things down. Just to turn off the mobile and to sit in the shadows of the terrace and read a book.

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What’s behind that door?

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A wine cellar?

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We didn’t figure it out. What we found, was the location of Max Skinners rendezvous point with Fanny here in Cucuron. Google and imdb.com helped me a lot to find that place. It was hard to take a photograph of the restaurant without any tourists in it.

I waited a while and suddenly a group of them disappeared. Too bad, that the light conditions here pretty intense, so that the crossing between shadows and bright sunlight made it almost impossible to expose right. Still, I hope that you can get an idea of the place. I was so happy to be here and to see the original chairs and the fountain. At least one location of a movie, that hasn’t been heavily altered for being in a movie.

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We walked back to our car and I waited again for an tourist-free-location. The traffic refuge, where Max drove a while with it’s Smart to find Fanny.

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The last location was yet to come. The main goal in the Provence was to see for me Chateau-la-Cannorgue aka Chateau-la-Siroque in Bonnieux.

I have to admit I was pretty stressed out at that moment. So far the trip was astounding and I’d almost seen all of the places that I wanted to see. Except for the manor from “The ninth gate“, which was located in Paris – I can say we did a good job in finding the places. So for the last one, it took us about 2 hours. We’ve headed to Bonnieux, but we couldn’t manage to find any street or landmark, that led us to the chateau.

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The area around here was full of wine yards and little chateaus and they looked all the same to us. I loved it here, it felt a bit more rural, but at the same time alive. We drove a bit deeper into Bonnieux

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…and just found by chance the little sign, that would lead us to the Chateau-la-Siroque. I have to admit, that I actually gave up finding that place. I was tired and exhausted from our trips. But a second before I could cancel, we found it. I was really exited…

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… to see the wine yard from Uncle Henry and Amis.

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And there it was. It was impossible to stand in front of the manor, because it was protected by a heavy fence. The sign at it said: “no photographs”. I understand, that the people don’t want to be photographed each day by tourist, which saw the movie.

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Still I would loved to have seen it from the upper level.

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You arrived. They altered the stone to Carnorge.

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The main entrance. Locked to us. It was ok. I was sad, but relived at the same time. I saw the location, I could feel a glimpse of the feeling by myself and not just by a movie.

It was a good trip.

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Everybody who watched and loves this movie, knows this scene and therefore the location.

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The stone marked the entrance to the chateau.

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A closeup.

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We tried to re-enact the scene it self, but it was impossible for us. Somehow it didn’t work with the lens, the focal length and our patience.

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Later we had a walk through the endless wine fields. The holidays came to an end and we were pretty happy about the outcome so far. A portrait of Tine.

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A fence.

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I’m not a post card writer at all. Tine showed off an amazing patience in writing all these cards.

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Starters come here with bread, olive oil and olives. I love the lightness of the mediterranean food.

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One of the most beautiful yard entrances i’ve ever seen. The whole landscape and architecture merge to a dreamlike atmosphere.

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We’ve had a long walk until sunset. We walked from St. Gens to St. Didier.

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No cars, no traffic jams.

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The landscape is crossed with wine yards from time to time.

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Tine. She tried to steal some wine. Me too, actually. And we were successful.

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A portrait at sunset.

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Back on the road, we walked by beautiful manors.

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A sign on the road. What does it stand for?

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Timeless capture.

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A typical house in the Provence.

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A quick self portrait. I’m so glad, that I cut my hair. Shorter feels definitely better.

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The last day in the Provence. Tine wanted to visit Arles. the first time, during my France trip, that I didn’t like the destination at all. It felt like a shabby, wrecked harbor town. Cheap hotels, a lot of garbage on the streets and many, many cars. To make a long story short: a total waste of time.

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We walked down past the seaside, but somehow I felt more like on a giant container / harbor area.

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The clouded sky made the whole setting even more depressing. The past days, we were gifted with bright sun and warm temperatures, now it was grey and really humid.

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Some parts were nice, the rest more grey and full of sadness.

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Due to that fact, I wasn’t inspired to take many pictures.

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The whole city seemed to be full of pigeons, by the way. Hello my little friend.

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Randomness in Arles.

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One of the last days in France. We drove to Cannes by car and spent the day at the beach. We found a little dragonfly, that was relaxing under a cars front light.

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Due to the fact, that the extreme hot temperatures made it impossible for any thing else than relaxing, we really just spent the day at the beach. So far nothing special here for us in Cannes. Too many tourists, too many cheap restaurants.

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We returned by evening to St. Gens and we spent our last night here. Almost every home had it’s doors and windows open, due to the almost unbearable heat.

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People tried not to move and stay relaxed. Everybody had cooled wine and the little village was empty on the streets. Seems, as if this little fella wasn’t affected by the heat.

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We went up the hill again, to enjoy the view over St. Gens.

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The only light source was a small lamp at the church’s entrance.

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Available light: the cellphone. The canon 50mm 1.4f still does a really good job, after a couple of years. Maybe I’ll update my combo to 35mm 1.4f and the 85mm 1.2f instead of the 50mm. We’ll see.

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Last posting on Facebook, before bedtime. We enjoyed our stay here in the Provence. We loved the countryside, the people, it’s smell and tastes and all the beautiful locations, we’ve seen. It was time to say goodbye and we prepared ourselves for a road trip to Nice, from where we were returning back to Berlin.

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Nice. Home of the rich and famous. The ride from St. Gens to Nice felt like an eternity. The last kilometers before Nice were full of stop and go – during an unimaginable heat.

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We arrived in the hostel, I hat the coldest shower ever and then we had a long walk down to Nice. Again like Cannes: for me it was too crowded, too artificial, too overrun by people in polo shirts. I had the constant feeling of being surrounded by cars, rolex watches and concrete.

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We returned after that walk back to our hostel. Ottweiler pils for 1€ at the bar. It was full of international people and I loved – after being now for almost 10 days for ourselves – to be under people.

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We stayed here. Rest after a long ride and a long day. Rest after a long journey from Beirut to Berlin, to Paris, to Toulousse, to the Pyrenees and to the Provence and Cannes and finally to Nice. We enjoyed to sit here and we had time to reflect on our journey. I was as tired and a happy as hell.

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But it wasn’t over yet. We had a night walk to downtown, since we just wanted to sleep the last night. Tine promised me, that Nice at night is a must see. If you want to have a  inexpensive, raw place to be  – I can recommend the “Villa Saint-Exupery” here. Quick service, inexpensive beer and many, many internationals.

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The sea side in Nice. It was 11 o’clock and the beach was full of people. We stayed here for a while and enjoyed the bookeh, that far lights created.

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It was hard to focus.

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But it was a nice setting. The city itself seemed to calm down a bit at night. Or maybe just the fresh air and the lack of heat gave us this feeling.

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So this will be the last photograph from my journey to France in 2012. The last day, we drove in the morning back to the airport. I enjoyed Avis’ quick service and I definitely couldn’t wait to get back to Berlin. The minute I arrived, I actually wondered how exhausting this trip was.

I have to be honest, that I stressed my self out, about the movie locations, the photographs of them, the transportation and the journey itself. In the end all worked out, but I was never sure, that it would. So I was very happy to come back with all the memories, all the photos and all the nice stuff that I found here in France. A huge thanks to Tine for having me, for having patience and for enjoying this unforgettable trip.

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Fin.