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A Year in Provence....well a week anyway!

Avignon, France

Ah Provence - the sun really WAS shining - all the time! After our Lyon experience, we were very pleased with our lovely time in Avignon and various surrounding villages in Provence. We even managed a day doing nothing by the pool at a B&B just out of Aix-En-Provence and Jane actually sought out the sun! It's a different sun to Australia that's for sure....

We had a week all up and we could have spent longer! We only really had one full day in lovely Avignon by the time we got our bearings, so we did the bridge of course and the fantastic Palais de Papes - quite amazing that you get so much access into this interesting building.

Avignon is a lovely blend of old and new - the amazing roman ruins and building combined with modern shops etc - the clothes shops were great (but Jane resisted out of poverty), but like so many places we have encountered in France there is a lot of construction going on, which is fair enough but it can spoil the peace a bit! It has a great vibe though and our hotel was in a fantastic position.

We had the best meal we have had, not only in France but also full stop for awhile at a Michelin Guide restaurant called Isle Sonnante in Avignon. Jane had the "Au Retour de marche" menu, which is put together on a daily basis after the chef has returned from the market. Jane has decided that Kristian is going to cook like this from now on (in fact see our own meal after returning from the market in Aix below)! Kristian had a fantastic ravioli with fois gras.

Jane spent a frustrating afternoon trying to figure out what could be done using the local bus system and the answer to that is not much! Fair enough that many of these villages probably don't want to be overrun by tourists but we were determined not to spend a fortune on ridiculous minibus tours, so we didn't! We went to St Remy, Isle Sur La Sorgue Sunday morning market and to Fountaine de Vauclause - the amazing water spring. We also popped over to Villeneuve for a lazy lunch.

We hired a car (at the most ridiculous expense - 200 euro all up!!!) but it allowed us to explore some of the little villages of the Luberon made famous by Peter Mayle (Bonnieux, Lacoste, Menerbes), as well as Gordes and Rousillon, which Jane has always wanted to do. You really need longer but this at least gave us a taste.

HIGHLIGHTS: Driving through the Luberon villages -particularly Gordes and Roussillon; Eating at Isle Sonnant; Breakfast in Avignon; Our B&B in Aix and going to the market for supplies to cook for ourselves; Isle Sur La Sorgue market and village; the weather. Les Halles food market in Avignon; Le Tinel restaurant in Bonnieux.

LOWLIGHTS: St Remy (we didn't feel its charm and the Van Gogh walk is a joke "here is where we think that maybe Van Gogh might have looked at some point and then painted something but we can't really tell because it's all residential now" - although there was one area that looked like his paintings!); missing Les Baux (choosing St Remy instead); construction in Avignon; public transport in Provence.

INTERESTING FACTS: French like Siestas at the best of times let alone in the 'country' - everything shuts between about 1pm and 3pm, but we kind of liked things sleepy! Jane and Kristian have been talking about wanting to buy a miniature pig for awhile, and seeing one in the market at Isle Sur La Sorgue (see petit cochon pictured above) confirmed it but Kristian wants to call him Pat (not just as in Pat the Pig but as in Pate) - Jane has said "non!" in her bad French accent.

USELESS INFORMATION: French customer service is really appalling - we have never seen so many train stations with HUGE queues and two people on while others stand around chatting. Also Jane's credit card - gold one at that - doesn't have the special chip needed to use the ticket machines so she has to stand in line grrrrrrrrrr!

(Jane wants to say at this point, in answer to a few comments about the amount of times I feature with food in these photos, that yes there are a lot of food related photos and they will continue as will the expansion of Jane's waist so it's back on the diet when she returns!)

The French do know some things about food! They cook fish so well and the strawberries here and so much better than we get. The pork is in a class of its own. K reckons that it's because they don't breed all of the fat out of them like they do in Oz. I normally don't like pork but our "plat du jour" in Vienne that was so wonderful was just roast pork in roasting juices with some peas and carrots cooked with bacon and more cooking juices and it was so tender and superb! They also take pride in their accompaniments (ie you get individual little moulded veggie sides) and their salads are so much more inventive.)

permalink written by  JaneandKristian on September 25, 2007 from Avignon, France
from the travel blog: Jane and Kristian's honeymoon
tagged Avignon and Provence

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