Exploring Provence for the First Time

Follow Linda and Dave Beach’s story about their first trip to Provence:

linda-and-dave.jpgWhile we have been to France several times, neither my husband Dave, nor I had been to Provence, so it was new territory for both of us. We decided to rent a house for a week in the small village of Bonnieux and our subsequent explorations from there covered only approximately 50 kilometers and only included small villages – mostly the hill towns of the Luberon.

We rented our house from Christine McConnell through Holiday Rentals . The cost was $965 for the week. With the dollar so weak against the Euro, this would prove to be a fantastic deal! Because the house had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, we decided that we couldn’t let that second bedroom go to waste, so we invited my parents to come along with us”¦and they accepted!

Dave and I arrived at Charles de Gaul Airport at around 10:00 on Sunday morning. We had reservations on the TGV at about 2:00 so we had plenty of time to people-watch and guess which travelers were from what country. (The shoes give it away!)

The TGV zoooomed us down to Avignon where we picked up our rental car. Dave had downloaded the France roads onto our Tom-Tom, but it too must have been jetlagged as it didn’t pick anything up for the first several miles as we proceeded to get lost in the suburbs of Avignon. Eventually we stopped at a bakery/pizzeria to ask for directions to a grocery store to get a baguette, cheese and wine for that night (and to find out where we were) we also discovered that no stores would be open since it was Sunday night. Fortunately, they had baguettes and Dave bought two, as well as a slice of very greasy pizza”¦not the best place to get pizza, but the baguettes were good. About this time, Tom-Tom woke up and told us the correct road to take to get to Bonnieux. The Tom-Tom turned out to be fantastic for navigating the back roads of the Luberon”¦don’t leave home without one!

bonnieux-rental.jpgOur home for the week was located on Rue de la Republique (#40), which is one of the main roads in the village of Bonnieux. The street is barely wide enough for two cars to pass, thus parking on the street is not an option! We were lucky though that there are about 8 parking spots just down the road from us and often one was available, but unfortunately not the first night when we needed one to unload our suitcases. So we quickly unloaded curbside and Dave was off to the large parking lot up on the hill by the Old Church.

I took a look around the house and started to panic”¦the room that we were going to have my parents stay in required doing the “limbo” to get down into it! These old houses were built for much smaller people and we had to duck under a large wood beam. We decided it best for Dave and me to take the lower bedroom and have my parents sleep in the upstairs bedroom. However, that meant that they had to negotiate another staircase for their bathroom which was on the 3rd floor. They and we survived and no one bumped a head or fell down the stairs so all was good!

We arrived in Bonnieux on Sunday night and went down the street to Le Cesar for a bottle of wine and a salad with goat cheese. Perhaps it was something that he ate, but Dave had a very upset stomach the following day. No more goat cheese for him for a few days, but he made up for it later!
All in all, a good start to a wonderful vacation.

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