Monday, 9 June 2014

Vive Provence

I wasn't expecting to do much blogging while we are away but Marion has to wash her hair and I've a little time on my hands so bonjour.

It was our first experience of the Channel Tunnel and , whilst it's probably not for the claustrophobic , the journey ran extremely smoothly and we were in France in no time at all. Marion's organizational skills are second to none so, despite the A12 turning into a ten mile jam due to an accident that closed the road, she'd factored that possibility into the timetable and we arrived in Folkestone in time to catch an early train.

From Calais it was clear driving on the Autoroute Des Anglais and we arrived safely in our first stop in Avallon . La Cimentelle is, as the name suggests, an old cement works. But we weren't arriving at a grimy old factory but the factory owner's beautiful mansion beside its ruins and now a B&B run by Natalie the great great Grandaughter of the original proprietor. She and her husband Stephane are fantastic hosts and couldn't have been more welcoming. No wonder the place's lowest rating on Trip Advisor was four stars.

Evening meals at La Cimentelle are communal affairs and in the two nights that we stayed we enjoyed the company of a Flemish woman who shows children around the dinosaur exhibits in a Bruges Museum, her husband a youth worker, a Walloon industrialist and his wife a pharmacist, a German psychotherapist and her Tax Lawyer husband, a retired Canadian librarian and her 87 year old ex diplomat boyfriend as well as Natalie, Stephane and Natalie's sister. What more could you ask for a fascinating dining experience other than good food. And, needless to say, the food was exceptional as the family are professionally trained. Four lovely courses each evening were accompanied by fine local wines.

Whilst in the area we visited a Chablis vineyard and stocked up with a fine case of wine. We also visited the beautiful Fontenay Abbey.

From Avallon it was time to head to Avignon on Saturday. On this occasion our meticulous planning went slightly awry as we discovered to our horror that it was a holiday weekend and everyone in France had decided to take the Autoroute De Soleil. This left us three hours late arriving in Avignon but the beautiful Hotel D'Europe soon made up for the disappointment of the traffic jams.

We spent Saturday in the fascinating ancient city and had a wonderful evening at an out of the way restaurant Foux De FaFa, another of Marion's discoveries where the charming young proprietor spoke to us in French throughout the evening despite being English herself as she knew that we were trying to speak the language. It's not the number one Avignon restaurant on Trip Advisor for nothing and we enjoyed a lovely dinner.

Marion's finished ger hair now and it looks fabulous so I'll finish now but please check back and see how we got on with the first 50 kilometre ride. Perhaps by then I will have found out how to add photos to the blog using the iPad.