Last Blog France 2018


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Published: June 10th 2018
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Grounds of our VillaGrounds of our VillaGrounds of our Villa

The Villa is appx 300 years old on a large estate surrounded by orchards and farm land.
For the next week we stayed at a beautiful Villa about 45 minutes from Avignon that we shared with 4 other couples/friends from Canada. The Provence area is one of the most scenic and beautiful parts of France and our group took full advantage of many interesting sites the area had to offer.

On a couple of nights, we enjoyed private gourmet meals prepared for us at the Villa by local expert Chefs. Needless to say the meal, enhanced by the wine of the region, the country setting of the Villa and being able to share the experince with good friends, were all the ingredients of magical evenings. The facility was fully equipped, therefore, it also gave everyone time to socialize while preparing a few meals on our own. Most of our group have scattered upon retirement and our time together in Provence was a great way to strengthen our long established friendships. Safe travels home to our friends!

It was a busy week, kicked off with a visit to Saint-Remy de Provence, a charming, small town not far from where we were staying. There were lots of boutique shops and narrow streets to meander through. We returned later
Dinner at the Villa with our friendsDinner at the Villa with our friendsDinner at the Villa with our friends

Wonderful meal enjoyed by all!
in the week to explore the weekly market that is one of the largest in the area. The famous Dutch painter van Gogh spent some time in Sainte Remy and was admitted to a local sanitarium for treatment of mental illness. It was also the birthplace of Nostradamus the 16th century prophesies. On another day, in order allow time for different interest, the 5 ladies booked a tour of the Occitane Soap factory in Manosque while the guys went to Avignon for a visit and lunch. Avignon was the home of the Vatican in the 14 century and remained the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church for about 70 years. Some of us took a self guided audio tour of the Papal Palace which helped and was supplemented with a small tablet that showed 3d images of the rooms as they would have appeared in that era.

Our excursion to Sainte-Mairie de la Mer, which is a small town on the Mediterranean coast, gave us a feel for some of the coastal areas of the Rhone River. The beaches and the Camargue horses are the main attractions that draw thousands of tourists each year. The white Camargue horses are
Archaeological site at GlanumArchaeological site at GlanumArchaeological site at Glanum

It has been determined the settlement was originally Celtic tripe. After the Romans took over, the community expanded rapidly.
believed to be one of the oldest breeds in the world and were used in the round up for bull fights. On the return from the coast, a brief stop in Arles, gave us an opportunity to view another Roman arena similar to the one in Nimes.

Of course the ”piece de resistance“ for wine lovers is the Chateaunuef du Pape region. There were 6 of us that took a private guided tour by a very knowledgeable Sommelier to a couple of wineries including a wine and chocolate pairing. There are about 300 wineries that are members of Chateauneuf du Pape association and although the organisation has done a good job in establishing a high quality reputation around the world, their wines tend to be a little pricey as compared to others outside of the region. The eponymous villlage was the home of the Pope’s summer palace which was mostly destroyed during WW11.

A must see in Provence is the Les Carrieres Lumieres in the town of Les Beaux de Provence. This is an incredible music and light show that projects images on the walls inside a vast limestone cave. It shows art from a variety of different
Palais de Popes AvignonPalais de Popes AvignonPalais de Popes Avignon

It was occupied by 9 Popes over a 70 year period before returning to Rome.
famous painters and on this particular day, Paoblo Picasso was featured. On route, we stopped in Glanum which is where an ancient Roman town was unearthed in 1920‘s resulting in an large archaeological site that still only covers about 10% of the estimated size of the ancient town. For those that have visited Pompeii or Ephesus, it is somewhat similar although on much smaller.

Sadly this ends our France travel experience! after dropping our rental car off at the Avignon station, we took the TGV train back to Paris for our flight home the next day. France is a beautiful country with a deep history that provides a better understanding of the Country’s development over the centuries and the many difficulties and sacrifices made to achieve the standard of living the French enjoy today.

There a couple of suggestions when visiting France. For the popular attractions, go later in the day. It tends to be less busy and you can enjoy them more. It also helps if you can speak a little French, however, generally, we found everyone quite friendly and helpful. Of course the French are known for their food with thousands of restaurants all over France.
Sainte-Mairie de la MerSainte-Mairie de la MerSainte-Mairie de la Mer

Mediterranean Sea. In spite of cooler weather the water was certainly swimming temperature.
Generally it’s a little more expensive so if you can find one that is a little “off the beaten track” you may discover the food a little more reasonably priced? Also, like any other trip, the level of planning and organizing is in direct proportion to your enjoyment. In that regard, Debra is a master at travel planning and logistics, therefore we thoroughly enjoyed our travels.


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The Rhone River and the Valley in Chateauneuf de PapeThe Rhone River and the Valley in Chateauneuf de Pape
The Rhone River and the Valley in Chateauneuf de Pape

As seen from the hilltop of the Pope’s summer Palace.
The Chateauneuf du Pape wine touring groupThe Chateauneuf du Pape wine touring group
The Chateauneuf du Pape wine touring group

Our guide who is also a trained Sommelier, has a degree in Political Science and Accounting and worked for Accenture before starting this wine tour business. Certainly a life style choice versus career.


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