Thursday, June 13, 2013

10 nights in France- First Stop Avignon

My husband and I traveled to France  for a celebration of our 40th  wedding anniversary. After landing in Charles DeGualle in Paris, we caught a train to Avignon. We spent the first 5 nights in Provence.  We chose a hotel in Avignon as our accommodations, as a train station from Paris  was located there and it was a central location to all the towns we wanted to visit.
But let me start by saying this- we didn't realize that Avignon was a "walled" city and that driving to our hotel would be such a character builder.  After all, we had already been married for over 40 years and gone through numerous challenging situations together- could a little stone wall cause the end of a 40 year marriage- almost!   But of course, being average American drivers, we wanted a standard shifting car and you only get "big" cars if you want a "standard"! So up pulls a large black BMW.
 GPS got us to the hotel with minimal problems. But then we entered the Port into the old walled city of Avignon. The street was small but passable- ---------

First of all the radar detection on the car is going crazy- beeping like mad as you are so close to the wall.  The car's safety system is positive that an accident is about to happen. Lesson number 1- learn how to cut the collision sensitivity button off at the car rental place if driving small close roads!

This doesn't look too bad- Mr RTH and I are somewhat civil at this point!

Getting narrower and the navigation lady has gone absolutely crazy- " You are in a forbidden zone"- 'Make a U turn if at all possible".  And she seems to be talking louder and louder.  My husband is asking me to turn  off her voice and I cannot for the life of  me figure out how!  Lesson number 2:  Learn how to turn off the navigation voice at the car rental! They don't work in walled cities.

Oh my God- are we in a pedestrian zone???

Oh good we see the end of another car- just a bit further and the hotel said to look for the
monitor to get buzzed in!

Okay- now what????

 We push the button to La Mirande and the posts disappear below the surface and we
drive slowly on-
How can 2 cars possibly fit through here?  Thank goodness we were the only one.

You've got to be kidding me- really???????.  By this time, my husband and I are screaming at each other about the best way to proceed!  I really wanted to get out of the car and just leave it!

 Almost there- I see the edge of the POPE's palace and knew our hotel was close to it!
The streets get tinier and darker- and our fat BMW gets fatter and fatter!

One more turn - we hope!
 Whew- we made it!   But are we still married?????? Time for a drink!
Lesson Number #3- Park outside the walls in the free city parking lot and walk in!
We were staying at a 700 year old hotel that had once been private residences. It was breathtaking!
The old tile was exquisite.

Straight to the bar for us!

Antique canvas and iron luminaries lit the foyer every evening!

 Beautiful old fireplace décor.  A customer, Katheryn just bought a pair like these from our last
sale "Parisian Hideaways" and told me she polished them to look like gold.  I thought of her as I sat having a cocktail in front of this exquisite fireplace.

 Ladies powder room


Sitting room off the breakfast room
Great combination of colours

another courtyard.
Beautiful old limestone staircase with exquisite tapestries on the walls.

Garden right outside our window.

The Breakfast Room
 A beautiful bowl cherries with a plate of almond cookies waiting for us in our room!

Divine !
Our room opens to the courtyard outside and the smell of the roses is intoxicating!
Cocktails in the lounqe

Dinner at La Mirande Restaurant
 Love these little petite veggies in the glass!

Lobster Bisque
House Pate

Sole with stuffed squash blossom

Veal dish
Like a de-constructed creamy snickers bar!!!!~

Rum Baba- tried this dish in many different restaurants during the trip.  Each one was distinctly different! 

 Romantic candle lit dining room!
This was such a pretty hotel- full of history.  There is a cooking school on the premises that looked very enticing. But I didn't have time for it this trip- but definitely next time!
The courtyard gardens were full of roses and culinary herbs.  Every night I watched the chefs come into the garden and snip herbs for the evening meal. We kept our windows open and just let the scent of the roses come into our room.

short walk from our room to the main hotel.

Absolute perfection

We ate at different restaurants each night in Avignon.  On my next blog post, I will share with you one of the most memorable meals of my life at La Cour de Louvre in Avignon.  If there, you simply must not miss it! 


Katha said...

When I finished p....g my pants from laughter, I was able to enjoy all the glorious pictures! You are right, it all looks divine. So glad things settled down and the two of you could continue your trip as a married couple! Can't wait to hear more about it.
Welcome back!

Marsha Splenderosa said...

OMG, it's always like this when travelling in these little towns, but there's a pot of gold at the end of the drama. I'm going to post about your beautiful book, which Mariterese gave to me, on an upcoming blog post.
It is divine, I will never tire of looking through it, or trying the recipes. Happy Anniversary, Susan!!!

Mariterese said...

OMFG- HILARIOUS! So funny I even had Pat read it - he was roaring ! Wow the place looked absolutely gorgeous
I love that tub - was that in your room
So thrilled that a wonderful time was had by you and Jay

Christy said...

Love the pictures of the food and I could almost smell the roses....they were gorgeous! The "walled" streets were so narrow....,I could see how harrowing it was for you and Mr. RTH...,looking forward to the next chapter.

Laurell Banner said...

Well I guess bigger is not always better. I am glad you two road warriors survived.
The light at the end of your tunnel was worth the wait. What a beautiful hotel..
The food presentation was gorgeous. Can't wait to see wat this Rum BaBa is all about.
Welcome back.

The enchanted home said...

You had me laughing over the narrow streets, thankfully my husband lived in Europe so was an expert at navigating them but I was in a panic over every turn and twist!
The hotel is elegant something about that French flair, it is so unmistakable and so distinct.
Welcome back...looks like a fabulous trip!

Emily said...

First of all welcome home and Happy Anniversary (we haven't even made 20 yet...40 is superb)! I have been so busy I haven't been in the blog world for awhile...your trip (sans driving) looks fantastic! I felt like I was right there with is what I am pining for now...French limestone stairs, floors, etc...those soft turquoise chairs in the garden...and a rose and herb garden that looks like that...just fabulous Susan! Loved the post!!

Botanic Bleu said...

Avignon...what a great city! A few years ago, we stayed in a hotel right off the main square and see a tiny glimpse of the Papal Palace through the trees.

So glad you two are still married...are you still speaking is the question? I love it that you had enough presence of mind to take photos at every twist and turn in your driving adventure.