Avignon is only a short train trip from Nimes and we arrived late morning, planning to leave our suitcases in lockers at the station so that we were free for the afternoon. Unfortunately, we discovered that the railway station no longer offers a luggage storage facility (and nor does anywhere else in Avignon) because of plan Vigipirate – the French anti-terrorist security plan. We had to take it in turns to look after the bags and wander around Avignon. Geoff still managed to take some photos and I stocked up on Nespresso pods. Our friends, Lendriani and Nigel, picked us up in their hire car at about 3.30, as planned, and we travelled to a beautiful house nestled into the countryside near the tiny village of Banon. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful place. Glorious views, the twittering of little birds the only sound to be heard and perfect weather. I may never leave.
Thursday we went to Banon, and paid the obligatory visit to Le Bleuet (Cornflower) bookshop, just in case my suitcase wasn’t already heavy enough. We also shopped for food in Sault, always an enjoyable experience. There is nothing more satisfying than walking out of a shop with a French baguette or two, and something sweet, just for a treat! On Friday, Nigel, who is a keen, and very fit cyclist, made his fifth ascent of Mont Ventoux, the mountain we can see from here, which quite often forms part of the route of the Tour de France. M Ventoux is 1912m and it is a punishing ride, which makes it all the more surprising that so many cyclists are keen to do it. The rest of us travelled up the mountain by car and were there to cheer Nigel on over the last few kilometres, and greet him at the summit. The ride from ‘home’ took about 3 1/2 hours, and then he rode back. Ironman!
Yesterday, we visited the hilltop village of Gordes, in the Vaucluse Hills, overlooking the Uberon. These strategic places on rocks and hills were populated by folk seeking refuge from invaders during the Middle Ages (10th. century), and are very picturesque. It is delightful to roam the steep, narrow streets and stone stairways knowing that, around the next corner, there will be a cafe or bar offering a reviving wine or coffee. The rich architectural and cultural heritage of Gordes make it one of Provence’s leading attractions so we took care to arrive early. By the time we had left, a number of tour buses had arrived so I hate to imagine what it would be like in summer. For us, it was perfect.
Our 5-day sojourn in this house has been wonderful and we have had some great food, eaten out and at home. Asparagus, cherries and strawberries are all in season and they are absolutely delicious. The only drawback is that the region is famous for its chèvre and if there is one French thing I cannot take to, it is goat’s cheese, although I have truly tried to like it. Of course, it features on every menu, and I would as soon eat a cow pat!
We have done a bit of shopping and the suitcases are already bulging.
Off to Aix-en-Provence tomorrow, for a couple of nights and then we will pick up a hire car and travel north.
If you are wondering what has happened to the blog, Geoff had the iPad while I was in Foix and here at the house, we have been unable to connect to the WiFi. I am just typing up notes and hoping that I will be able to copy them into the WordPress.