Continued from Planting a Seed …
Arriving in Paris, my first challenge was making my way from the airport to the connecting train which would shuttle me into the city to meet up with my travel mates.
Needless to say, as the train pulled into the Gare du Nord station, I was very relieved to see my sister-in-law “C” happily waving to greet me. After dropping my luggage, we set off to meet C’s two sisters for lunch before we began our whirlwind tour of the city. Paris is filled with beautiful people & magnificent architecture, interesting museums & shops to die for.
Unfortunately, my time in Paris was very limited, just long enough to take in a few of the major sites before catching the train south to Avignon.
For those of you that have never been to Europe, their train system puts ours to shame! A variety of options are available, and travelling to multiple countries is easily done through the purchase of a Europass. My only caution is that you need to be prepared to be a little flexible as it is not uncommon to have to readjust your schedule due to a random rail strike of some sort!
After picking up our rental car at the train station in Avignon, we managed to find our way out
of the parking lot onto the highway & to our knowledge, were heading in the direction of Isle sur la Sorgue, as directed by the owner of the property we were renting.
Or so we thought.
According to the directions, our drive to the property should have taken us about 45 minutes. Instead, it took us approximately 4 hours! After passing the same farmer’s field for the 100th time, it became clear that we were travelling in circles!
Before you go getting too judgemental, keep in mind this was before GPS systems were installed in rental cars & the iPad had not been invented to just look it up on Google.
Adding to the confusion, we came to realise the directions from the website had been translated incorrectly. (This has since been corrected after the owners became mortified that it had taken us 4 hours to reach the property!) For any future guests after our visit, You’re welcome!
The good news was that there were no spouses in the car screaming at one another, just 4 women trying to read a map through tears & hysterical fits of laughter!
This experience taught us to always have a bottle of wine, some cheese & a baguette on hand, as one never knows how long it may take to reach your destination or better yet, you may just happen upon a beautiful roadside stop. Impromptu picnics are almost certain to happen!
After several turnarounds, we managed to locate our destination.
Just beyond the town of Isle sur la Sorgue, lies the beautiful property of Le Jas des Parpaillous, the place we would call home for the next week.
I would highly recommend staying in self catering accommodations when you are travelling. We have used them on a number of occasions & have always had our expectations met or exceeded in the properties we have rented.
One of the things that struck me most about the culture of the people who live in this region was their approach to life. There appears to be much less emphasis placed on living by the clock & more attention paid on just savouring time with family & friends.
This was never more evident to us than the first time we stood waiting for a shop to open. According to the sign on the door, the shop was to open at 10am. As we stood tapping our feet & checking our watches to be sure we had the correct time, we found ourselves discussing where the heck the person could be that was responsible for opening the shop. At about 10:20am or so, we heard the shopkeeper approaching & we were simply greeted with a smile and a “Good Morning.” No apologies issued. No excuses that the alarm hadn’t gone off or that traffic was a mess.
We learned that day that the times noted on shops were merely a suggestion of when they might be open. This is not uncommon in many parts of Europe. If a friend had been met over coffee at the local café, that definitely takes precedence over opening the door at 10am sharp. An interesting mindset to consider perhaps, based on how stressed we North Americans are when it comes to the clock!
Our week in France was spent primarily in the Vaucluse area of Provence. It is an absolutely stunning area to visit & remains one of my favourite places I have had the privilege of travelling to.
Colourful shutters adorn the windows, fields are filled with gorgeous poppies or lavender depending on the season. The hillside town of Gordes & Rousillon are both worth a visit as is the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape where you can sample some fantastic wines. A wonderful area to explore & unwind.
Some day I hope to return with my bike, perhaps settling for a month or 2 to enjoy this gorgeous area of France once again.
Here are some pictures of a few of our stops we made along the way. If you ever have the chance to visit this part of France, I would highly recommend it!
Have you ever been to France? What is your favourite memory? If you haven’t been, what area would you most like to visit in France?