Our train finally pulls into the station in Nice. It’s been a long journey so far and there’s still a way to go before bedtime. We’ve taken advantage of the 3G on our Italian sim cards and have been hunting for accommodation in Provence since we left Genoa.
Through AirBnB.com – a company we’ve used a lot recently – we’ve managed to book a lovely looking stone cottage deep in the heart of the French countryside near the town of Lorgues. Our hosts, Heather and Steve, are bloody awesome and our digs – a charming old stone cabanon – is exactly what we’ve been after. Here’s a link to Heather and Steve’s property profile. If you get the chance, go there!
We make more new friends during our stay with Heather and Steve: here’s their cat Mario – the fluffiest ‘human’ you’ll ever meet!
Next morning – after the most comfortable bed and best night’s sleep this trip so far – we head into Lorgues town.
Every Tuesday until about 1pm, the market in Lorgues takes over the whole town. You can get everything here from T-shirts and tools to garlic and cheese. We’re very interested in the last two!
There’s an entire stall dedicated to garlic and onions here – can you get more French than that?!
And how about this block of cheese?! I just want to climb inside or burrow through it like Jerry!
Exhausted by the market, we take refuge in one of the only places still open after 2pm. We discover they serve Spritz Aperol here so… well, it’d be rude not to! We also grab a snack plate.
The variety of oiled and pickled veggies and peppers, the prosciutto, the melon and the pecorino cheese keeps us going for the rest of the day!
We take the hour-and-a-half drive over the mountains to the coast to St Tropez. It’s the most perfect day you can imagine and, if you like driving, the road to St Tropez (how does that tune go again?) is outstanding. Hairpins, steep hills, narrow lanes and bridges over rapid rivers…
St Tropez is okay too, I suppose!
We head through the town of St Tropez to get our bearings. The town is full of people and covered in bunting. We discover there’s a big regatta this whole week. We head to the sea front to look at the ships.
The harbour is packed with maxi-yachts and more are coming in. The quays are thronged with spectators, sailors and salesmen all thriving in their world of ocean-going ships. It’s an incredible atmosphere here. We get the impression St Tropez isn’t usually this busy but we soak up the vibe all the same.
The sky is starting to look like it’s going to put on a show for the crowds so we head to the harbour wall for a better view.
As predicted, the sunset over St Tropez is astonishing. We watch this brilliant red ball dip all the way down over the distant hills then head back to the car for jackets, shoes and a plan for dinner.
The drive back to Lorgues is dark yet enjoyable. Mostly because our bellies are full of dinner and our minds full with memories of this pretty little glamour town.
We use today to work. It seems such a waste of a beautiful day to be stuck behind our laptops. Then we think about our old lives and the offices we inhabited. We figure if this is what our new work environment is now, it’s not so bad after all.
For dinner we head into Lorgues to sample one of the local hotels. Not everywhere is open – in fact we’re left with a choice of about three places. This cute little town doesn’t seem to like to work that late. And who can blame them?
We decide on La Table de Pôl and we’re not disappointed. The whole meal is incredible, but my chocolate fondant pudding with berries and ice cream is… insane!
The next day we head north on our way to Paris by way of Dijon. We stop by Avignon for a quick break. Ever since we stayed in Siena last year, (and Tallin before that) we have a thing for walled cities. Avignon is spectacular. This is the Palais des Papes in the north of the city.
We wander around Avignon and find little hidden cafes round corners and behind walls.
There’s some great architecture in Avignon. This rooftop terrace set our imaginations going. It’s a lovely city and we wish we had more time here. But we have to be in Dijon before nightfall, so we’re on our way again before long, heading north across the River Rhone.
We finally get to the Burgundy region and our hotel just at dusk. It’s been raining for most of the drive north and we’re both hungry and tired. Nonetheless we can’t help but fall in love with our little hotel recommended us by Heather and Steve (thank you for the tip!). Hotel Villa Louise is about 20km south of Dijon in the village of Beaune.
It’s been an hotel since C17th and in the same family for many generations. It was a winery before that. It really is a lovely hotel and we have a quick walk around in spite of the rain. There’s a spa and pool out the back and the dining area and lounge sprawls out on a wing of the building.
The only picture we Instagram though is of the most impressive part of our stay at Hotel Villa Louise: the breakfast! There’s croissant, crusty bread, stewed peaches, smoked cheese, delicate ham, sweet pain de piece and sugar-crusted fromage blanc. It’s perfect.
The next morning it’s raining again as we head north for Paris. The drive is wet and misty, right up until the outskirts of the capital.
We’re worried that our time in Paris will be a soggy one. But we cross our fingers and carry on regardless.