Provence: A Multi-Part Journey with Pamela Morton

Provence: A Multi-Part Journey with Pamela Morton


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Join Pamela Morton on a multi-part virtual journey through Provence, a region of extraordinary riches with breathtaking natural scenery and fascinating history that takes in Greeks, Romans, seven popes (plus two antipopes), Nostradamus, and Vincent Van Gogh. We will visit Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Les Baux-de-Provence, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Our stops will include the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, the Calanques de Marseille or the spectacular inlets along the Mediterranean, and the Camargue, the Rhone delta area with its salt marshes, white horses, and pink flamingos.

With a bit of culture and a bit of nature, we will hit all the highlights from Marseille and Aix to Arles and Avignon. We will visit the Calanques, the spectacular natural inlets along the Mediterranean coast, and the Rhone delta, a nature reserve with its salt marshes, white horses, and pink flamingos. We will also visit the archeological site of Glanum, a Gallo-Roman settlement known for its healing springs. Nearby is the former twelfth-century Benedictine monastery of Saint Paul where van Gogh sought relief from his demons while painting the surrounding olive groves and Alpilles mountains. At the top of the Alpilles range, sits Les Baux-de-Provence, one of France’s ‘plus beaux villages,’ a dramatically positioned village perché and castle from which powerful lords commanded the valleys below. And we won’t miss the Pont du Gard, the impressive Roman aqueduct set in the countryside crossing the Gardon river, a favorite spot for canoeing and kayaking.

Led by Pamela Morton, an expert on the history and art of the south of France and longtime resident of the region, this journey will explore the many attractions of Provence. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the region and its historic and natural sites.

Marseille and the Calanques

Our first stop is Marseille, France’s largest city on the Mediterranean, its most important commercial port and oldest city. We will trace its history from its beginnings as a Greek settlement through its nineteenth-century heyday as a port of empire and to its reemergence today as a capital of culture and industry. Our stop includes a visit to the Calanques National Park, to explore the natural inlets typical of the coastal area, of which Marseille’s Vieux Port is an example.

Aix and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Famous as a spa town, Aix is a handsome city of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century aristocratic townhouses and numerous gurgling fountains. Founded by the Romans and serving as a medieval capital and later seat of a pre-revolutionary Parliament, it was also home to the artist Paul Cézanne. We will explore his favorite motif, the Sainte-Victoire mountain with its quarries, damns, and hiking trails as well as the artist’s studio.

Arles and the Camargue

Located on the Rhone river, Arles is known for its impressive Roman monuments including an amphitheater, theater, and baths. It is also known for the painter Van Gogh who depicted the cafés, parks, and local inhabitants. Our tour will cover these two areas of interest with an added look at the Romanesque pilgrimage church of St. Trophime and Frank Gehry’s ‘starry night’ tower, the centerpiece of a new arts complex. We will also explore the adjacent Rhone delta—home to black bulls, white horses, pink flamingos, and the Camarguaise cowboy.

Saint Rémy and Les Baux

Saint Rémy is a bustling market town and the birthplace of Nostradamus, the famed physician, astrologer, and soothsayer. Just outside town we will visit the archeological site of Glanum, known in antiquity for its sacred springs dedicated first to the Celtic god, Glanis, and later to the Roman goddess of health, Valetudo. The twelfth-century Benedictine monastery of St. Paul next door was also associated with healing and later, as a Maison de Santé, treated van Gogh. Close by is Les Baux, a dramatically positioned medieval village high up on a rocky spur with spectacular views of the countryside all around, (added comma) explaining the power of the local lords who remained invincible for over five centuries.

Avignon and the Pont du Gard

Avignon is the city of the Popes. Beginning in 1309 and continuing through the century, the city was home to seven successive popes who constructed an elaborate palace – the largest gothic structure in the world -- as a symbol of their earthly as well as spiritual power. We will also visit the Pont du Gard, the remains of one of the highest and best-preserved Roman aqueducts built to carry spring water over 30 miles to the Roman city of Nimes.

Originally from the US, Pamela has lived in France (Aix-en-Provence and Marseille) for 25 years. Pamela teaches studio art and art history for American university programs in Aix. She trained in art restoration in Italy and has a background in museum work as a curatorial assistant and program director. She is also an artist working in mixed media -- drawing and painting. She attended Bennington College and California College of the Arts. She's worked as the on-site director for a study abroad program and for educational programs including the Smithsonian, Alumni International and Cultural Experiences Abroad. She's taught for Northwestern University, Oberlin College, and the Marchutz School of Art (Aix). As an art historian, Pamela is endlessly fascinated by the local culture, the archaeology, history, and architecture of the region as well as its monuments and museums. As a painter, she is intrigued by the light and colors of this southern realm, the Midi, where so many artists lived and worked. Her two favorite artists from Provence are Cézanne and van Gogh.

How does it work?

This is a five-part journey series held on consecutive days and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A. In the two-day intensive, each session is 4 hours, with 1-2 short pauses to break up the time as well as for interspersed Q&A.

How much is the journey?

$175 for five 90-minute or two four-hour lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our journeys are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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