The heat has returned . . . and so have we . . . to Avignon from Cassis, a port on the Mediterranean coast.
We left early this morning and hit the motorway doing 130kph all the way to the sea. It is about an hour and a half away and was worth the trip. I ©googled “Good Beaches near Avignon” and it told me that Cassis was the nicest. It didn’t lie.
It was so good that everyone has to pay a €1.10 toll to drive down the hill to the beach to experience it. We thought that was a bit strange, but it was even stranger when we departed because you also have to pay €1.10 to leave!!
Anyway the day was tanning and swimming heaven. We splashed out and hired sun lounges, and were then waited on hand and foot. After more Rosé wines, tasty Bruschetta sandwiches and Coke Lights, we were very satisfied with our day. So much so that we are tempted to return to the sea in a couple of days and stay there before we head to Plan de la Tour and St Tropez. We have now been to the internet café and tried to book a nice room on the coast for Thursday and Friday (waiting to hear back). Although Avignon is nice, we prefer the quiet and tranquillity of the smaller villages.
The previous day we checked out the towns south of Avignon. We started with Arles which was originally a Greek colony until Julius Caesar captured it and gave it to the veteran soldiers of his Legions. It has an ancient amphitheatre built around 90AD and could once hold 20,000 spectators. It is currently in the process of being renovated and now has modern seating for bull fights, which Arles is known for. Over the last 2000 years the city has been ravaged and rebuilt many times . We spent about three hours, walking, eating and marvelling at its buildings and monuments. There is a notorious old structure which held thousands of Jews before they were sent to the concentration camps during the Second World War. It has very old, solid doors concealing dark, foreboding cellars that you could peer into. It was a scary and sad place.
There is also a hospice that Vincent Van Gogh previously stayed at and he famously painted (Le Jardin de Hopital d’Arles). Donna and I visited it. It is now frequented by local artisans and has student accommodation.
Heading back to Avignon we stopped at St Remy de Provence, a small Merivale-like village with great little shops.
The many restaurants and cafes were filled with affluent, older people and the shopping was very expensive. We walked around the streets and alley ways and then continued back to the big city.
To be mentioned. Donna has visited thousands of shoe shops since Paris (there are so many). She made her first shoe purchase in Arles! She has to be restrained or she will need another suitcase to bring them all home. She is very pleased with herself and will continue to marvel at the natural shoe wonders of France.
Signing off again. Possibly up to Chateau Neuf-de-Pape tomorrow (just north of Avignon). It is famous for its great wines and restaurants. Thinking of you all back home. Salut!