This was a holiday meant to take place in 2020 but was postponed for obvious reasons. I was surprised it actually took place this year. It was the usual Friday to start the trip, down to London and overnight stay.
Saturday 9th October
Eurostar had suspended their direct service from London to Avignon thus we went via Paris. I am the only solo traveller in this group of 17 people, the rest are older couples. There was a nice meal on the Eurostar which was my breakfast as I didn’t have any at the hotel. The transfer coach turned up late outside Gare de Nor. navigating one-way system, narrow streets and vehicles not parked properly with a wee demo on a roundabout meant we were straight off the coach and onto the TGV at Gare de Lyon. The journey South was very nice in the afternoon sun, through farming country, some crops harvested, small number of cattle in fields, many ponds, trees were varied with some densely packed plantations.Sun disappeared a bit as we got into the Rhone valley. Avignon TGV is a nice station. Then onto a coach to take us close to town centre, a walk through narrow streets to arrive at our hotel. A 4 course evening meal was held at a nearby restaurant where our vaccine passes were checked at the entrance.
Sunday 10th October
This was meant to be a morning off leisure followed by a boat trip with lunch and visit to Arles. However the river cruise was called off for covid. Instead our walking tour of Avignon was brought forward and occupied most of the morning. We were advised to wear face coverings at all times but is was optional and we only wore them when moving indoors or along busy narrow streets. We walked first through the Place De L’Horlge then onto the Place Du Palais to view the Palais Des Papes where the popes who were aligned with Rome not France stayed. Avignon was a rebel town for many years not aligned with the French monarchy. After walking round there, scaffolding spoiling views, the walk took us onto Place Cornet, Halles indoor market then down a few narrow streets with street vendors. The afternoon was free time. I spent it walking down the Rue De La Republique to the normal rail station then along the walls, apparently you can’t walk along them line in York but they seemed wide enough. Eventually I found the entrance to Le Pont Saint-Benezet, scanned my vaccine pass, paid my 5 Euros and went onto the bridge. At the entrance there are some displays that give the building history in English.
Monday 11th October
Today ended up being a complete free day to do what you wanted. I wandered around different bits of the town this morning and in the afternoon decided to explore Villenueve Lez Avignon across the River Rhone. What we didn’t know was the shops and cafes would be closed on a Monday. A very quiet place. I didn’t find my way to the main castle Fort Saint Andre which was just as well as I got a better view on Thursday.
Tuesday 12th October
Today was a replacement for Sunday but we travelled by local rail service to Arles. A long walk through the town to town centre to get tourist maps then left to our own devices. I made it down to the river bank but the strength of Le Mistral made it very difficult to walk along. I viewed the Amphitheatre with it’s big stone walls, the antique theatre (open air), the Obelisque with it’s water fountains, through the Jardin D’Ete and saw the Lume Arles in the distance. Got the train back around 4pm.
Wednesday 13th October
Today was a coach tour round a few places in Provence. First stop was in a place called Saint Didier to visit Nougats Silvain, a small family run business that makes Nougat. We had a view of the small factory with about 5 people in it and some tasting of the different nougat. We move onto L’Isle sur le Sorgue where we had a 3 course lunch (vaccines checked at entrance), the waitress only spoke French, and a wee walk about town. The on to the town of Gordes which had great views but the camera won’t do justice to them. Houses built into the cliff face.
Thursday 14th October
Early start today for a trip first of all to the Pont du Guard Aqueduct, we were advised we only need to wear masks indoors not when wandering outside. Subsequently onto the town of Uzes which has a one way traffic system around the town. Initially it wasn’t mush to look at but when you wandered down the side streets into the middle that’s where you found the little art galleries, jewellery shops and cafe/restaurants, quite deceptive little place. Then onto Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the vineyard of Famille Mayard where we had some wine tasting. Quite pricey wines too, not for sale in supermarkets, probably specialist wine retailers. On the route back I saw the Fort Saint-Andre properly. Another 4 course evening meal at the same restaurant of the arrival evening.
Friday 15th October
Travel back home day, TGV to Paris, Eurostar to London (with on board meal). then an evening to kill waiting on the sleeper service to Edinburgh. A replacement rail bus to North Berwick on Saturday morning.