I was so excited to add St Remy de Provence into the mix as this village mes amis, is definitely one I could live in. A dream is to live in France for 6 months when I’m rich and famous and I have found it! I can’t explain why but it was quaint, quiet with gorgeous wee cafes/restaurants, boutiques and it was beautiful and elegant. Even Le Mistral, the dreaded Southern wind didn’t deter me. We weren’t there long but got to meander in the square and cobblestone streets and it was magic.
We had a quick stop 15 mins from here at Baux de Provence; the unusual rugged landscape with an old village perched on top of a mountain was fabulous and worth viewing.
We’d both been to Avignon before but it was many years ago, so we decided do an unplanned stop here too. We parked in a residential area and boy it was gorgeous. The town was way more beautiful than I remembered and it was lovely to see the famous pont d’Avignon (bridge) and to walk through the beautiful square, and visit the stunning church. We stumbled on umbrella street ( see pic) and Les Halles market was bustling.
Arles was next but we made a detour to Nimes. Don’t ask me why but I just knew it was where Denim (De Nimes) originated, so was curious. Anyhoo we got bad vibes as it was grungy and full of graffiti. Hubby said “why are we here?”and I said “I don’t really know so let’s leave!”. Roadworks galore; the city was also being carved up, so we just laughed and drove out the way we came in!
Arriving at our hotel just outside Arles actually was then interesting. Hubby said that if a hotel is in a gated compound, there is a reason for it! Mmm. Our IBIS Budget was basic and clean and nothing like the one in Sarlat! What was I thinking? The IBIS Suites next door looked better. Hotel envy. The neighbourhood was certainly undesirable although we felt safe (ish). The walk into town, across an overgrown park and under a bridge was strange and then we hit a huge flea market, where no French was spoken. However when we turned a corner all of a sudden the ambiance changed and the town was delightful.
Van Gogh’s garden was beautiful as was the amazing old bullfighting arena. You could just get lost in this medieval town with its touch of quirkiness. Better still, again we got the last table at La Mule and lunch was sensational. This restaurant inside and out was just fabulous. It was so hot here so it was nice to cool off by the hotel pool.
We headed back into town ( yep the same dodgy route) but no flea market and it was pretty by the river. I stupidly got duped by getting sucked into the tourist Cafe Van Gogh in the square. Probably our worst meal but it wasn’t horrendous by any means and our wine was good.
The next day I changed the itinerary to squeeze in Chateauneuf du Pape before we hit Uzes. Wow it was such a gorgeous drive and timing was impeccable as we just arrived before a medieval wine festival started. This added the magic touch as it was wonderful watching everyone proudly dressed in costume entertaining us marching to music walking through the village. We sampled a wine, made a special cellar purchase and departed before it got hectic.
As it was lunchtime we decided to make a stop in the country for a change. Oh my word we had the most fab steak and pommies frites and dessert in this tiny village called Connaux, where locals had gathered for a social event. When checking out all the hoo-ha, in the square, we couldn’t believe there was this amazing oom-pa-pa band playing with all these young Froggies drinking, singing, dancing and playing games in soap suds. It was bizarre but hilarious and they were having a whale of a time. Funny and memorable.
Join me next week as our fabulous French journey continues.