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Trip Report My First Trip to Provence and Paris...Loved!!!

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Thanks to all who helped in the planning! I won't know how many pieces I'll do this in until I get going, so here goes...

The beginning had bumps and I don't mean turbulence. I of course came down with a bad cold the day before we left. Did some anticipatory panicking about ear pain on flight, and quickly researched how to prevent...the tip that worked best was very simple, Afrin nasal spray! Then our plane Sat. evening was delayed a full 3 hours so even tho' we'd left a 3 hr. window to get our high speed train from CDG to Provence on Sun., we missed it. Thank goodness I'd taken advice from people here to pay the extra to get the kind of tix that would allow us to switch to a later train. Unfortunately all they had left on the next train was first class (none of us had ever traveled first class in our lives!), so we did end up paying a lot extra, but it was well worth it. Train ride was very relaxing for us exhausted folks, and when we arrived in Avignon, we had no trouble finding our rental car place, Hertz, it was right across from the station. They had us in something much larger than we wanted, and they were perfectly accommodating in switching us to something smaller but big enough to fit all four of our luggage, with some in the backseat (we were only driving to St. Remy so this was fine).
No relatives or friends work for Hertz :-)

It started to rain on that short drive and we had quite a bit of trouble finding our b and b, Le Mas Des Tourterelles. But once we arrived, the place was lovely, and while Carrie seemed a little put out by our late arrival, Richard was very kind and welcoming, and both were helpful with suggestions of simple places to go into town, just a 5 minute walk, for dinner once we rested. We went to Le Bar Tabac des Alpilles, and with the help of my French "menu master," managed to figure out what was what and communicate with our waiter who didn't speak much English. I was very glad I'd learned how to ask for tap water in French as we had no need for bottled water along with our wine. We all enjoyed our meals, nothing super special, but very fresh and enjoyable. It was our introduction to delicious Provencal salad dressings!

Next day we were still tired and I still had my cold, so we decided to just stay in St. Remy for most of the day, and at Richard's suggestion, head over to Les Baux around sunset when it would be less crowded. We walked up to the Glanum ruins, very interesting, along with the two larger sites by the parking area, we enjoyed the larger archeological site and the views of it and the Provencal valley, from the top. From there we spent some time wandering St. Paul d Mausolee, with its lovely cloister and gardens as well as seeing Van Gogh's room, of course. We then did that "Van Gogh walk" where you walk on a path that has pictures of his paintings at different intervals...that part didn't seem so worth it to us, in hindsight. By then, since we'd not gotten a real early start, we had what was probably our only early dinner the whole trip - we had crepes at a place I'm afraid I don't have the name of tho' my friend might if anyone wants it...and I had a delicious crepe of goat cheese, eggplant and fig jam, oh my! Others enjoyed their dishes as well.

We then took off for Les Baus, and what a wonderful tip Richard had given us when he said either go early or at sunset. There were very few other people there when we arrived, and it was just magical, walking all around that incredibly picturesque town at sunset time. One of my most memorable times of our trip.

Oh my goodness, am I only at the end of Monday?! Let me at least get Tues. in before I break, lol.

Tuesday was our day to explore the Luberon hilltowns. I fortunately was already feeling much better, healing happens more quickly on vacation, sometimes! We began by stopping at the Village des Bories on our way to Gordes, and saw the dry stone, no-mortar huts. They were interesting to see but I wouldn't necessarily recommend this stop unless that's a particular interest. We then went on to Gordes, where it turned out to be market day! We hadn't planned for that as we were planning to spend time at the St. Remy market on Wed., and it of course changed the ambience with all the people, and made parking more difficult. But I loved seeing Gordes, such a beautiful old village built into the base of the cliffs, with amazing views. I spent more time walking around the outer part and looking up in awe, while friends spent more time at the marked; so we were all content.

I think it was after that, that we stopped at Abbaye de Senanque. While enjoyable to see, I think with the lavender out it must be really incredible, we were too early for that. Then Rousillon...another favorite for me. Oh those colors!!! All shades of red, orange, yellow imaginable. We paid the very small fee to walk on the path that leads through the ochre canyon/park, and it was more than worth it. When done with that we picked up something delicious that we still don't know what it was, from a patisserie, and perched ourselves outside the place while eating and watching people go by. Lovely.

We decided at that point we only wanted to visit one more town, not two, so we skipped Bonnieux and instead went to Menerbes. Loved that too, as well as the scenery on the way there. Enjoyed our café at a café, and just wandering around. Then went back to our place to rest up a bit, and off to a restaurant once again recommended by Richard at our B and B, Sous Les Miococouliers in Eygalieres. We literally dined outside under the micocoulier trees and the twinkling lights, it was again magical! For the first and only time in Provence, we dined next to other English speakers, and I must say, the raciness of their conversation alongside the ambience and good food, made for a memorable evening! We're still laughing and making reference to some of the things we heard that evening. Oo la la!

I'll be back to write about our Wed. and Thurs. in Provence, and then if it seems anyone's still reading, I'll do a part 3 and 4 for Paris (and yes, I now understand why so many people love Paris so much, with much gratitude and joy I add myself to the list!)

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