It was an interesting journey from Aix-en-Provence to Lyon.
We collected our Avis hire car from the station and a sorry little Renault it was with stained seats and lots of scratches. We drove first to the tiny village of Ventabren, which was a delightful place to stop for coffee, and then we had a look at the Roquefavour aqueduct – the largest stone aqueduct in the world. This architectural monument was built between 1841 and 1847 to take water from the Durance to Marseille.
We then asked Dulcie (our GPS) to take us to the small town of Orange, on the way to Lyon, but she, in fact, took us to an Orange office near Marseille. The wasted hour listening to Dulcie’s excruciating French pronunciation taught us that she needs very precise instructions. Instead of lunch outdoors in a pleasant, leafy square, we ate at one of the huge rest stops off the autoroute. To be fair, they are pretty good. We continued on our way, travelling at 130 kph and being continually overtaken, when a funny little red sign illuminated on the dashboard. This was soon followed by a more aggressive red sign that said ‘STOP’ accompanied by a mini siren. Eek! Much poring over the Renault manual, entirely in French, determined that one of our tyres was either losing pressure or was severely damaged, and the ‘STOP’ sign means that you must cease driving immediately if you value your life. Sure enough, one of the front tyres was looking a bit low. No joy from the Avis ‘ring us if you have a breakdown’ number so Geoff put some air in the tyre and we made it to a parking station in Lyon. It lost pressure again overnight and we went to the Avis office to see what could done. I was all prepared to be angry in French and had my ‘incroyables’ and ‘insupportables’ at the ready, only to be greeted by a lovely lady with good English who said “… but, of course, we must change the car” and a lovely young man who brought us a glass of water. We now have a Fiat, in perfect condition, and very comfortable.
The CAR DRAMA took up a lot of time so we didn’t have much time to explore Lyon, a big city located at the confluence of the Saone and the Rhone rivers. We did take the little funicular railway up to Notre Dame de Fourviere, the interior of which is ornately decorated, and the area around the basilica offers wonderful, sweeping views of Lyon. Terrific dinner on our last night at La Tassee.