Drawing at the Pont du Gard

Jerry’s last post amusingly describes the experience of driving in France but, he did not say where we were driving to! We were tootling all over the place. One of our destinations was the Pont Du Gard a UNESCO world heritage listed site which amazes me. The Pont du Gard was built just before the Christian era so that the aqueduct of Nîmes could cross a river.

As an Aussie who has seen fire, flood, earthquake and drought in my life I am always a bit dazed at how Roman engineers and architects controlled nature. In the case of Pont du Gard they are controlling water to meet the need of a community. I appreciate the achievement but there is always an irrational feeling that nature can not be shaped to our will as it goes counter to my life experience. So when ever I encounter Roman engineering that accomplishes something like this I am always in awe of the fact that they did it but also it has stood a couple of thousand years. I know that is what humans do, but the child in me is always surprised to encounter it.

sketch of Pont du Gard bridgeAnyway while Jerry scrambled over rocks to take photos of it I did some sketching. These thoughts filtered through my mind as I drew one section of the bridge in my travel journal. I chose to do a section as the structure is large and I need to realistic about time. This took me about an hour and half . This drawing is of part of the top section. If you click on the drawing you will see a larger version.

page spread of travel journalI added a postcard to the page spread of my travel journal to remind me of the monumental size, as this bridge stands almost 50m high and has three levels of arches.

If you are interested in this site there is very good article in Wikipedia about The Pont du Gard

Where’s the snoot?

Okay, so who stole the snoot from the French? I have tried everything to find an arrogant Frenchman – even waiters who traditionally had the role of professional snoot cockers – I have tried speaking French in the worst accent (Australian) and used my best schoolboy french to upset the natives, but no, they politely respond… in English.
Arrogant? I have tried asking directions to the toilette of guards in Versailles and all they have done is smiled and pointed me in the right direction. What am I doing wrong here?
I have tried wearing the wrong shoes (long story) and I even tried ordering a coffee ‘tres legere’ but to no avail – not a sniff among them, just polite courteous service. Nary a Gallic shrug to be found.

Note: the Gallic shrug is something to be cultivated – a combination of ‘I choose not to understand your anglicised attempts at French’, and an ‘I don’t care even if you are lost/busting to find a toilette/desperate for a decent coffee or (d) all of the above.

Somewhere in the last few years all this has gone the way of globalisation and perhaps the global economic crisis, but now I would have to say that the French reputation for snootiness or arrogance is grossly misplaced. Just sayin’.

Drawing in the Roman Theatre in Arles

Sketch of Roman theatre Arles in FranceArles is dotted with ruins and I have decided there is nothing like a good ruin. Actually flippant attitudes aside, many of the monuments at Arles are UNESCO world heritage listed.

The other day we visited the Roman theatre and off to one side is a collection of carved and plane stones.  I had a delightful time sitting in the shade of  a tree, drawing the image above. Click the image to see a larger version

This is what the travel journal page spread looked like. The green half disk is a paper patty that held a lavender  cake – yes that is right a a cake made with lavender. It was lovely.

photo of travel journal page spread