Published: November 6th 2009November 2nd 2009
Monday 2nd November
We say goodbye to Renee Renault and onto Avignon
There was no loud music overnight thankfully and we got a good night’s sleep.
The good weather has deserted us today and there is steady rain as we load up RR for the drive to Marseille airport where we have to give her back after ‘owning’her for the past 152 days.She has been a very reliable car with only one small incident when we were in Switzerland where she wasn’t keen to start like she had done on every occasion before.We put that down to some rough Ukraine diesel we must have purchased and after the next fill she started again without fail everytime.
We are picking up a Hertz rental car at the airport to transport us for the next 19 days before we take the train to Paris for our last 4 days and plan for a mid afternoon arrival.
We are hoping that the weather might clear for us as the morning passes and by the time we get to Aubagne for some sightseeing.However,it was still raining when got down the road to Chateau le Neuf and we didn’t bother to get out as the town turned out to be a non event when it came to sights.From the name we were expecting something grand.
As we carried on over the N96 towards Aubagne the rain did stop and the sky started to clear as we had hoped for!!We found a car parking building and set off to spend an hour or so strolling around the old city area and as it would be getting towards lunchtime by the time we finish we will probably find a cafe and have a coffee and something to eat so we don’t need to stop before we get to Marseille airport.
The old town wasn’t as interesting as AeP had been but we still took many of the lanes in to get a feel for the place. We found a cafe in the main square and ordered up a couple of cappuccinos which came out piping hot and we sat and watched the locals go about their business(as people sitting in cafes in France like to do!!)
The road then took us towards Marseille,a large sprawling city,but thankfully it disappeared into a tunnel and we emerged a couple of kilometres later having passed under the city and came out the other side already almost in the countryside and the airport just a short distance away.
As we emerged from the tunnel we started to notice police cars and policemen on every turn off from the highway and on every bridge. They didn’t appear to be in positions to stop traffic but to observe. It made us wonder if there had been some sort of incident and they were on the lookout for someone or whether this was just a general occurrence in this city that has a bit of a reputation for the underworld of crime.
The road to the airport and within the airport environment the police presence was just as great and in some incidences they weren’t just in twos as they were on the highway but in 3 and 4’s and nearer the airport they were at every intersection.It made us wonder whether we should be driving to the airport but we had no option as we need to switch the cars there.
We found the Renault agent just a couple of hundred metres from the airport terminal but we were too early as we had said we would be there between 2pm and 3pm.So we stopped in a car park adjacent and had some fruit and sat back and read our books.While we were doing this we suddenly wondered whether RR sitting almost alone in this car park area might attract the huge number of police in the airport area.
However, a half hour went by and no one turned up to query what we were doing.Then a woman came over to the car and asked if we were returning a car to her at the Renault agency and if so she was ready for us.We told her we had to pick up a rental so we could transfer our luggage and ‘stuff’but that we would be ready to do the swap in half an hour or so.
We drove off to Hertz and picked up the rental car but only after telling them a two door was no use to us and they swapped the original for a 5 door Hyundai Getz,hereafter to be called Harry Hyundai or HH.It was much smaller than RR although we knew that we had been spoilt with the upgrade to the estate model we have been driving and the rental was the same ‘class’ size but just not the slightly longer estate model.
We got ourselves back to the Renault agency and said our last farewells to RR.
After nearly 24,500km,haven taken us from England to Ireland to Scotland and back to England then across the Channel through Europe as far east as Poland and Hungary and south to Croatia over the Alps(several times)down two thirds of Italy and up to the south of France,we will miss her very much.We didn’t hang around long as we are both sentimental types when it comes to giving up attachments and RR has felt like family over the past 152 days!!!
We decided that we just wanted to get to our overnight stay in Avignon as soon as possible so took the motorway or A7 north from Marseille airport and before we knew it we were at the Fasthotel on the outskirts of the town.Our hotel is one of those chains that offers compact rooms at a low rate and although the room was small it was clean and comfortable.
We took a walk looking for a supermarket nearby and discovered a huge number of shops spread over a large area including an Auchan shop which was so big that when you entered the front door you couldn’t see where the furthest end of the shop was.This place had everything you could want in a trip to the mall including a massive range of brands in the supermarket section.It was amazing to think that this place and the whole shopping area for that matter was located near a town the size of Avignon and at 5pm on a Monday night the place was flat tack with shoppers!!!
We brought what we needed and went back to the Fasthotel and for a change had dinner out although we didn’t have to walk far as the restaurant was at the front of the hotel.For €12 each we got three courses and left feeling satisfied.