08 September 2011

Pleasurable processes – from an English village to a French village

Posted in Talking about . . .

We left Stow on Wednesday morning at 8; returned the car in Oxford at 9; arrived at Paddington station at 10.30; and were home at Kate’s by 10.45 – excellent process!

Spent the day exploring happy haunts and new spaces, and finished it off with a marvellous dinner of caviar, quail eggs and celery salt, blini, crème fraiche, and vintage champagne – more excellent process!

Reunited with Kate and Gary
Our banquet table
Champagne and Caviar!

Clockwise from Left: Reunited with Kate and Gary, Our banquet table, Champagne and Caviar!

In the morning, sped off on the Eurostar - breakfast brought to us and wonderfully comfortable process. A smooth transition from the Gard du Nord to the Gard du Lyon in Paris and we were off again on the TGV to Avignon – more comfortable seats upstairs with wonderful views.

Impressions formed while travelling between Paris and Avignon: Farmhouses with speckled red/orange tiled roofs and sandy-coloured plastered walls; castles in the distance; towns/ villages with multiple church spires; becoming increasingly hilly as we travel south; windfarms - Mercedes Benz insignias twirling on poles adorn hilltops; vineyards; as we near Avignon, I see houses built of pale stone with pale roofs; fort ruins on a hilltop; and achingly . . . a crick in my neck and stiff shoulders from looking out the window - but still fabulous process.

We are in France and it’s so exotic! Temperature in the late 20s and sunshine - as a good friend said this morning “Paris is so gay”. It is! The smooth sounds of French all around us, the absence of English information; the women with chic scarves and handbags and shoes; no-one seems to be overweight; and squares and sidewalks dotted with busy cafes.

Delightful night at the Hotel l’Horloge in the centre of Avignon – close to the Palais des Papes. Comfortable, affordable, and a great breakfast – thank you, Adventure Travel. We were a little weary (not to mention suffering from something of a champagne hangover) and the evening hours were like a dream – wandering through the narrow streets around the hotel; marveling at the Palace; drinking Provencal rosé; eating steak frites; desperately trying to reassemble fragments of French to be able to communicate in a rudimentary way; basking in the sunshine; it was all glorious – we are so in France!

Avignon Square
Palais des Papes Avignon street scene Avignon alley

Anti-clockwise from Top: Avignon Square, Palais des Papes, Avignon alley, Another Avignon alley

The next day, we collect the car (a very nice mid-sized Renault), and the first task is to work out how to use the inbuilt GPS system. We have to go back to the Hertz office twice - oh, the shame . . . but who knew that you had to turn the radio on before the GPS system could be activated! We have Kirsten (apparently a New Zealand voice) to guide us, and we set off for Carpentras to buy provisions from the Friday morning market.

Driving on the right-hand side of the road – and I’m so left-hemisphere dominant! Having to re-orient spatially was really hard, and I could feel the adrenaline surging every time a car came hurtling towards me. The Brain also struggled, and there were lots of sharp intakes of breath coming from the passenger seat until he became confident that we weren’t going to tumble off the verge on his right. However, by the time we reached Carpentras, we were doing much better, and we serendipitously found a space in a supermarket carpark close to the market. It was getting hot by lunchtime and we wandered through the market, buying first a splendid woven market bag with leather handles (just like yours, Prue). We then filled it with fruit and cheese and bread and a scrumptious lunch of crisp chicken nibbles tasting of butter and paprika with a vegetable tagine and a potato and olive stirfry – heavenly! The stall-holder was a delightful man who was kind, helpful and generous – and funny!

French Shopping - a bit like New Zealand shopping but with a splendid woven market bag Market lunch in Carpentras - yum!

(Left) French Shopping - a bit like New Zealand shopping, but with a splendid woven market bag
(Right) Market lunch in Carpentras - all gone!

 

After gathering other staples from the supermarket (did you know that you can’t get skim milk here – only half-and-half), we headed off for Venasque.

 

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Comments (1)

  • Kate
    Kate
    12 September 2011 at 13:43 |

    Love the blog - can picture you in Avignon - we stayed at the same hotel - great spot and very central

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