Or what we learned from last time…
Following on from our post ‘A Good Year: A reason for a road trip’, we roll forward to 2012, and our second Provençal road trip.
We hadn’t been idle in the years since the first trip; We had seen other parts of France, had our Texas & New Mexico Trip, Our Canadian Adventure. All squeezed in within our annual leave.
However, we had unfinished business with Provence.
First, the mistakes we made last time
So as you are aware, if you read the earlier post, the original trip was inspired by Ridley Scott’s ‘A Good Year’. We loved our time in Avignon & Arles, exploring cities like Nîmes, driving through the Camargue and the countryside of Provence.
However, we wanted more time in one place. On the last trip we’d had seven stopovers in the two weeks leave, on this trip we reduced it to four. We still needed intermediary stops for the journey down, and the drive back home, but we’d split our time between Provence and the Côte d’Azur 50/50.
Our Itinerary this time looked like this;
Dijon (from Calais 353miles/569km)
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (from Dijon 271miles/437km)
Villefranche-sur-Mer (from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence 202miles/325km)
Besançon(from Villefranche-sur-Mer 454miles/730km – to Calais 403miles/648km)
We picked a smaller town too, somewhere it would be good to come back to after touring the countryside.
So we picked Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
We picked a winner
We arrived at the boutique Hotel Gounod, and popped the car outside reception, check in and opted to use the secure private parking (currently €10 per day) which is around 500m from the hotel. It is also next to the town cemetery, guess who spotted that! I knew then we’d be having a little wander around.
A stroll back into town and we set off to discover, and boy were we pleased. Now Saint-Rémy-de-Provence has some beautiful tree-lined streets, and a fantastic array of restaurants from the cutest little bistro’s, to temples of gastronomy with everything in between.
After an hour or so I persuade Janis that ‘Drive’ deserved a drink, so we took a table at Grand Cafe Riche and settled back to watch the world roll by. You just can’t beat a spot of people watching, and our main subject of interest was the roaring trade the Pizza van was doing opposite us.
But this was inspired by ‘A Good Year’
Indeed it was, go the next morning we headed in the countryside in search of Cucuron. For those who have seen the film, this is the little town with the vast pond that hosts the outdoor movie screening.
But the truth about the movie is that it’s about the Provençal way of life, and the beauty of its little towns & villages.
As we cruised the countryside, we followed no set script. We discovered towns as we went, stopping where the urge took us. We urge you to follow the same path – go with the flow.
And discovering further afield
There’s a couple of great lines in the movie when Fanny Chenal, rushed off her feet at her bistro, tells Max “McDonald’s is in Avignon, Fish ‘n’ Chips in Marseilles”. Max offers to help with the waiting duties, and after being told by Fanny “And remember you’re in France: The customer is always wrong!” repeats the “MacDonald’s …” line to two slightly annoying American tourists.
Those lines reminded me though that Avignon just 13miles/20km to the north and Marseilles is only 56miles/90km to the south, along with pretty coastal towns such as Cassis.
A great base to return to
All good things
So after five short days, we left Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Not before we checked out the town’s cemetery though (told you so!)
As we left, we thought, “perhaps we should have stayed just a little longer…” It was that good.
However, we were heading up the coast to the Welcome Hotel in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Now haven’t I seen that in the movies?
Inspired to visit Provence?
We loved our first trip, and we wanted more. It’s your own adventure, start planning it now.
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