The first few days after I was back in France I had to deal with the Dutch Tax Office. They had assumed I had emigrated and wanted me to fill out a form of mythical length. To avoid a Kafkaesque struggle with bureaucracy I asked for adjournment which I hope they will grant me. Meanwhile I will try to convince them I haven’t emigrated.
From Sete I headed in an Easterly direction which brought me to the French Riviera.
In Morocco, people tried all different scams to get money out of you. Here on the French Riviera they have different means: they just write silly numbers on price tags.
For lunch it was back to baguettes again. A baguette is a kind of bread that seems to consist of crumbs glued together and that instantly falls apart as soon as you take a bite of it. To avoid this, I put huge amounts of pâté on it to make it stick together.
Cycling through this part of France gave me the chance to see a countryside that inspired so many great painters. In Arles there was the Yellow House, where Vincent van Gogh lived. It was destroyed during some war. This I didn’t know, so I asked at the Tourist Information where it was. It was destroyed during the war, the girl told me with the kind of French accent that makes you want to vacate any building you are in as soon as possible. In the museum I visited, were some sketches of Van Gogh, some of them looked awkward. None of his paintings remain in Arles.
Not far from Aix-en-Provence I cycled along the Mont Saint-Victoire which was immortalized in a series of paintings by Paul Cézanne and a photo that I took:
My route took me through a village called Pourrières. The etymology of this name is interesting: in 102 BC, a Roman army defeated migrating Teutonic and Ambronic tribes, who came from the North and were accidentally heading to Northern Italy. They didn’t have GPS or Google Maps at the time. According to Plutarch, a hundred thousand were massacred. Many mothers killed their babies and committed suicde thereafter. The fearsome smell of the putrifying bodies earned the battlefield the name campi putridi. Hence the name Pourrières.
Cagnes-sur-Mer was the place where Auguste Renoir spent the last years of his life. Unfortunately, the museum dedicated to him was closed on the day I visited.