Day 1: Drive to St.Remy-de-Provence
Unlike the last time we drove, this was a super easy breezy 10 hour drive for us. We drove through Switzerland and the drive through the French Alps was especially pretty. We checked into the Hotel L'Amandiere (http://hotel-amandiere.com/accueil_gb.html ), which turned out to be a gem. St.-Remy, as we learned in the following days, is a not exactly budget friendly destination. The L'Amandiere is a really reasonable hotel there, the pool was very nice, the staff was very friendly, and it was just a short 10 to 15 minute walk to the town center. There, we ate some very overpriced food, got some ice cream and headed back to get some sleep.
Day 2: Lavender!
Lavender field day! We had to drive for about an hour and a half to make it to Valensole, but man, was it worth it. Lavender fields in full glory. We returned to Puimoisson, where we found gorgeous lavender fields. Not only are they fields pretty to look at, they scent of lavender lingered in the air. Of course, we also went back to beautiful and peaceful St. Jurs.
We also discovered these huge fields of light purple flowers, I don't know what they are (please, if you do, enlighten me) with St.-Jurs in the background.
Back in St.-Remy, we found a nice restaurant with some great customer service and some tasty food.
Day 3: St.-Remy-de-Provence, Avignon, Tarascon, Les Baux de Provence
We started the day in St Remy to visit the sanatorium where Vincent van Gogh stayed after he mutilated himself by chopping of his ear. It is a wide spread area with a beautiful lavender garden, an apple orchard, and even a small field of poppies. Very Van Gogh.
We also went into the room where Van Gogh stayed. It was kind of strange to be in there, outside it was so beautiful, sunny and warm, but inside it felt kind of claustrophic. The windows have bars, it is dark and the air is stale. I wonder how Van Gogh felt in there, and how the mental illnesses of the patients in the institution were treated adequately. From St.-Remy, we drove to Avignon and went back to the Papal Palace. This time, we went inside and took the audio guided tour, which Noah was a big fan of. I was so impressed with the little guy, he was so happy to push the numbers and listen to the explanations. We lost his teddy bear in there, but with the help of some very nice staff (whoever claims that the French are rude is totally wrong. We've been to Normandy, Paris, and Provence, and never have we encountered a rude French person. Quite on the contrary, they ranged from super friendly to indifferent, but NEVER ever rude!) we were able to find it. Huge sigh of relief! We bought Noah a knight's helmet and a sword. He rocked his little outfit, he walked through Avignon wearing his gear, and people just smiled when he passed them by.
Next stop on this busy day were the towns of Beaucaire on the Rhone river, which has a very pretty port, and the medieval town of Tarascon, which boasts the fantastic Chateau de Tarascon. The castle is huge and HIGH; we climbed all the way up there to the "roof terrace" , I was actually kind of scared up there, the wind at the height...they're not my style. Still, the view is great from up there, but I was a happy to go back down.
The final destination for today was the village of Les Baux de Provence, another fortified medieval town which sits on a tuff stone plateau.
Day 4: Back to the Lavender Fields
Oh shucks, there were so many places left that I wanted to see, but we had only this day left. We decided to go back to the lavender fields....found some more and that was our trip :)
I'm already kind of thinking of going back to Provence, I still would like to stay in the Ardeche region for a few days, and do maybe a week on the Cote d'Azur. Who knows what our future holds and where we'll live, but I'm sure we'll go back!
If you'd like to see more photos from our second Provence trip, check out this gallery: http://www.sabinereedphotography.com/p390425770