Early morning train ride from Barcelona to Avignon, ready to make our first foray in to France, and for me the first time ever in France. Visions in my head – the first class lounge as we were wined and dined in plush leather cushions while attendants carefully placed our bags in the first class compartment. A string quartet playing quietly in the corner as tuxedoed stewards catered to our every whim while we whizzed along at 300 mph.
But hey…at least the seats were comfortable and we found a place to sit in the common area while we waited for our train, which it turns out does not go 300mph between Spain and France. In some cases it turns out there is also a local train strike and therefore it makes unscheduled stops to pick up additional people…meaning our 20 minute connection to go from Nimes to Avignon was missed. Well, it would have been missed with the exception of the previously mentioned local service train strike.
As luck would have it we struck upon an idea and during our 2 hour wait for the bus we went down to the car rental place and made arrangements to pick up the car in Nimes, which also had the added bonus of letting us explore the city of Nimes for an hour or two. We picked up the car and made our exit, waiting and waiting for the GPS to pick up as I was given my first taste of driving in France….eventually we picked our destination and made our way to the next parking garage…only to find out we had parked almost exactly in the spot where we picked up our rental car.
Nimes dates back to the Roman Empire and in the heart of the city is an ancient Roman Coliseum where gladiators used to battle for the entertainment of adorning crowds. To this day the Coliseum is still in use for various events – but on the day we visited it was simply open to tourists and classes. We had a fascinating walking through history and as we reached the top of Coliseum walls we could look out and see the entire city of Nimes laid out before us.
After a brief hour or so we headed out of Nimes and made our way in to the heart of Provence, the Parc du Luberon, and the town of Goult…our home for the next 4 nights.
Goult is a small village with picturesque streets, including my favorite set of doors in all of Provence…attested by the fact I stood in front of it for 5 minutes trying to get the right compensation within minutes of our arrival while Andree walked off to try and get to the market that was closing shortly. Our first night in the Luberon was spent eating Pizza and drinking wine/beer at the famous Café de la Poste with a evening walk through the cobble stoned streets amongst buildings built in the middle ages. Not a bad introduction to the next few days. The oldwindmill at the top of the hill created a dramatic silhouette in the late evening sky.