We had an adventure today that we did not at all anticipate. Our plan was to shift about 40km’s from Pont du Gard to Orange to visit the Roman Theater in Orange. Enroute we were going to stop at a Carrefour to get some gas. Actually sounds like one of our easier days from a travel point of view.
We were rolling along on nice wide roads when we came into a little village. The roads were kind of narrow but we were used to the roads narrowing going into little villages. Then Ron missed a turn, the GPS reprogrammed and the roads were narrow but one way so Ron decided to follow the reprogram, and then we came to a point where the GPS wanted us to turn down a walkway…big problem. Ron parked and since we had come down a series of one way roads we could just not turn around and go back the way we had come. Ron on foot followed the one way road thru the village for 2 or 3 hundred yards and it looked doable, so back to François. Ton backed Ron down the road for the 20 or so yards to the turn, and just as we were getting ready to head down the road a fellow jumped in front of us and in rapid fire French told us that the GPS was wrong and we could not go that way. There was only one way out and he would show us, or words to that effect. Just as he was turning us around in very tight quarters another car came up behind us, and we managed to let him squeeze past, but rather than carry on he got out and began to help us turn around and get pointed in the right direction also. Ron was responding to commands of droit (right) and gauche(left), and a lot of vezzies (afterwards Ton and I decided it was the French version of come on, or keep going), we got turned around passing within inches of several parked cars, and liberally using the sidewalk (all two feet of it) when necessary. We got pointed at an opening that was maybe four inches wider than Françoise with both mirrors folded in. The two guys gave me a resounding Voila!, and a thumbs up. We squeezed down the alley, and popped back out on our nice wide main road. We shouted some Merci beaucoups (thanks much) at them as they were walking away, but without them our day may have been really a mess, so to the two anonymous French gentlemen, merci beaucoup.
We arrived at Orange 20 minutes later, and visited Carrefour which is turning into Ton’s favorite grocery in France. Stocked up with food for a few days we were going to get fuel, but it looked like a tight fit and Ron was a little skittish so fuel is tomorrow.
We finally made it to the Roman theater in Orange and it was really interesting and beautiful. It was built in the 1st century AD, and is incredibly huge for that era. The grounds will hold 10,000 people, and the theater wall behind behind the stage is over 100 feet tall. The scale is hard to describe and Ton had a tough time capturing it on film. We followed the audio guide throughout and it was fascinating. The theater is still used today for concerts and performances. The facade of the theater is also grandiose but it is undergoing renovation and we did not get a look at it.
After the theater we passed by the ancient Arc de Triumph of Orange. This Arch was built by veterans of Cesar Augustus legions who settled in Orange after they completed their service. It is to honor veterans of the Gallic Wars around 24 AD. We had actually passed it as it is in a roundabout on the main road in town on the way to the campground. But this time we were on foot and had time to take some pictures.