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Trip Report Happy 80th Birthday Mom: Menerbes and Provence, Cassis and the Cote D’Azur

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I’ve been meaning to write this report for some time now and have decided that I should start it before I start on the trip I just had in Italy. I received lots of advice from everyone here and thank you all for your wisdom and patience. It was all put together to formulate a celebratory 2 week French vacation last April for my Mom, about to turn 80, and me…so thanks to you all! My mother hadn’t had a vacation for about 14 years, but had helped us out on many occasions with babysitting so that DH and I could travel so we decided to treat her to the planefare and to a beautiful place in a French town of her choosing. She chose Menerbes. I’m going to try to keep it brief, but we’ll see how that goes. ☺

We flew US Air from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, to Munich and finally to Marseille without a hitch, picked up our cute little Citroen Picassa, booked through Auto Europe, at Hertz, and were on our way. First glitch – my mom decided she wanted to stop at a soap factory in Salon de Provence on the way to our apartment so off we went. I was in Fodors mode so did it occur to me to ask if she knew where she was going? Non! Who would just drive into a city and expect to just find what you were looking for? Don’t worry – it wasn’t us. When I realized she didn’t even have an address, we abandoned the plan and continued on to Menerbes, our home for the week. We got a bit lost since we were out of the way, but finding a beautiful patisserie along the way made up for that.

And what a home it was!!! The most beautiful apartment, called Menerbes-Two, perched at the top of Menerbes, one of the ‘Most Beautiful Towns in France’. Tiny roads, old stone homes, hills, typical provencal hill town, home of Peter Mayle, author of “A Year in Provence’ and where my mother had always wanted to stay. Did I mention the tiny roads? Luckily we hadn’t booked a huge car. To get to our apartment, we had to fold in our mirrors and squeeze between two walls on Rue Cornille. Our front door was in miniature scale meaning that we had to duck to enter, but once inside, we were amazed by the décor, the layout, the views! I will let the website speak for itself – the apartment was exactly as pictured and I can’t recommend it more highly if you want a true hill town experience, with luxurious accommodations:

http://www.theluberon.com/rentals/ls/menerbes/4/menerbes-two

So we unloaded and realized we couldn’t turn around in the street. We drove to the end and saw we could turn around between someone’s car, a stone lion statue and a chain blocking a private driveway. Unfortunately, there was also a huge rock next to that small area and in front of it was a steep incline. I inched the car back and forth many times until I was turned around and started to smell a slightly burning clutch. We made it out without destroying the car, inched through the narrow passageway and found a parking space which had been indicated by the owner on a map. (more on that later!)

We enjoyed our first evening with some food we had picked up along the way, marveling the view over the mountains.

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