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Trip Report Trip to France (Provence, Languedoc/Roussillon) - a quick summary

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OK here is a lightening-fast summary of our 10-day trip last month. Let me know if you want more details.

We started off in Hotel Chateau des Alpilles in St Remy - very fine hotel, good staff. Room Le Lavoir - not in main house - was large with a private terrace, but was not optimal. Walked around St Remy. Toured Van Gogh's asylum at Mausole. Too late for Glanum. Viewed Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum (The Antiquities). Dinner at hotel was very good. Fixed price menu €49.

Drive to Arles. St Trophime cloister. Roman Arena. River. Decent "formule" lunch at Apostrophe Café in Place du Forum - famous Van Gogh location. Drove to see Les Baux. Very pretty but dead. Walked to Carriere des Lumieres just outside Les Baux - terrific light/music show. Dinner at La Cassolette in St Remy was very poor.

In Avignon we did the Palais des Papes. Massive, interesting history. Mandatory(?) visit to Le Pont d'Avignon. I could just as happily spent the time wandering the town or back at the hotel's (beautiful) swimming pool.

We drove to Uzès, which is a very attractive town - worth a detour, as the guide says. That night we had dinner at Bistrot du Paradou, in Paradou, south of St Remy. Best chicken ever, plus limitless Cotes du Rhône and a mega cheese board. Very buzzy place, quite an operation.

Wednesday was market day in St Remy. Not as good as we hoped. We checked out of hotel. Spent a pleasant couple of hours at Serignan Plage. Then checked into delightful Hotel de Vigniamont in Pézenas, whose owner Babette was super friendly. Great room (top floor suite), the best of 5 she has. Great value at €120/night. Dinner at Mamita was satisfactory.

We took a day trip to Carcassonne. Toured castle and ramparts. Lunch - tapas very good at L'Escargot on Rue Viollet le Duc (surprising seeing how touristy the town is). Dinner at L'Entrepots restaurant in Pezenas was good but lacked atmosphere.

Checked out and drove to Collioure. Room at Le Relais des Trois Mas was small and functional but had a great view. Collioure is a beautiful seaside town, with 3 beaches right in the centre. Dinner at 5ème Pêché was very good French-Japanese.

Next day, the restaurant terrace was a gorgeous setting for breakfast. Took Le Petit Train Touristique (!), up to Fort St Elme on hill, back via Port Vendres. We visited the two main anchovy shops (anchovies are a big thing in Collioure). Dinner at La Ballette restaurant in hotel was excellent (one Michelin star). Fixed price menu €48.

Next day we drove to Banyuls, which struck us as a disappointing town. The beach was scruffy, and the town generally seemed a bit tired after the colour and charm of Collioure. Dinner at L'Ambroisie back in Collioure was good.

We crossed into Spain to Figueres to see the Salvador Dali Museum. Worth seeing. Back in Collioure, we had ice cream from Oliver Bajard's outlet - expensive but exceptional. Dinner at Les Templiers was OK, bit of a tourist trap, relying on its history with famous artists maybe.

On our last day, we went to Céret, mainly to see the Museum of Modern Art. Had a very pleasant lunch at Le Pied dans le Plat in Place des Neuf Jets. Very good spot for lunch. We liked Ceret.
We took a detour to Castelnau, a famous and beautiful Medieval town, which was nice but not a functioning town, and it was stuffed with tourists.

So there it is - 10 days was not enough really, so we will be back to sample more of what western Provence and Languedoc/Roussillon have to offer. Once our livers and waistlines have recovered.

Questions?

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