Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tarascon: Monsters, Saints, and Kings

May 22nd

Mom, Chris, and I took the train from Gare Saint Charles (our train station here in Marseille) to the town of Tarascon. Mom was excited about her first train trip here in Europe! The ride was only about 45 min to an hour and we got to see a lot of nice farm land on the way.

Tarascon is known for Saint Martha and the Tarasque. The Tarasque was a dragon-like monster that would attack the people of Tarascon, until Saint Martha tamed it. Throughout the town, you can find statues, paintings, and decorations with the Tarasque on them. They have a parade every year to praise St. Martha and people dress up as the Tarasque. Inside the cathedral, the bones of St. Martha can be found along with a stained glass window showing her taming the beast. It's really fascinating!

We stopped off for lunch at a wonderful restaurant. I had a whole trout that was delicious! All of the food was great, and our waiter was very friendly and attentive. I wish I could remember the name of the place at the moment.

Tarascon also has a tremendous castle, still intact, that was once home to the Kings of Anjou. We paid the entry fee and spent the next few hours exploring the castle. It was more impressive than the Popes Palace in Avignon.

There was an art exhibit in part of the castle of South American art, which was strange, but the rest of the rooms were free from extra things. We really loved the Kings chambers and his own private toilet! Yes, we saw where the King would go to the restroom, and it was hilarious! A hole going straight down next to the Rhone River. We also walked through the Queen's chambers, the wardrobe, the guest rooms, and so many other rooms. The castle was huge! Mom wasn't thrilled about the spiral staircases, or standing on the roof of the castle. From the roof you could look across the Rhone River to the next town over, where there was a castle not as intact as this one.

After the castle, we went over to the cathedral across the street, but there was a funeral finishing up so we had to wait to go inside. Once inside, we saw Saint Martha's crypt and one of her bones.

We stopped at a cafe for some drinks, and then walked over to the Rhone to the large Tarasque statue.

The town of Tarascon is rather small, and we walked through most of it in an afternoon. I highly recommend others going to Tarascon and learning about the legendary monster.

So many pictures from the day. I had to separate them out into a couple of albums.




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