The packing is done, the bikes have been loaded onto the car and yesterday afternoon I waved my husband and eldest son off as they started the drive down through France for our summer fix of Provence.
Over the years we have tried just about every possible way of getting down to Lagnes, the lovely village near L’Isle sur La Sorgue, where we have based ourselves for our holidays.
Living in Devon we have Plymouth on our doortsep so we always felt the easiest way would be to take the ferry to Roscoff & drive from there. To begin with we drove down with the caravan, which felt like it took forever and inevitably we felt that although the areas we visited en route were lovely, we had wasted precious time both getting there and then returning home.
We then tried to just take a tent, but the effort of prising all 4 of us, a large tent, the necessary equipment, fridge & bikes into the car resulted in some very uncomfortable & cramped trips down the Autoroute.
We then decided to abandon the ferry which, to be honest, had proved to be a very expensive & not particularly pleasant way to go and tried flying from Exeter to Avignon and hiring a car. The ease of getting there was great, but within a couple of days we were missing our bikes and the holiday felt incomplete without early morning rides to the boulangerie for croissants or the joy of reaching a stunning village after a long, hot ride uphill.
We had to think again & at the moment my time is very precious, but my husband has a little more time so we fell on the idea that he would drive with everything we needed and I would follow later with the boys and this in one form or another has been the way we have travelled since. Sometimes he travels alone & I follow with both boys and at other times he travels with them and I follow on my own a few days later, being met by them when I land in the heat at Marseille airport (I must admit the airport reunion is wonderful every time it happens and is something I look forward to from the moment they leave!).
It isn’t perfect – of course we would all like to travel together (although I think my boys are happier without me as they get to share sitting in the front on the way), but travelling like this means that we have everything we need when we arrive and I don’t waste precious time travelling, meaning that I can immediately relax & enjoy every moment of my holiday I am in a place that I love .
Hence I waved goodbye to them yesterday & wished them a safe trip. The next time my youngest & I see them will be at Marseille Airport on Saturday morning, when our holiday will start in earnest with a quick dash to Apt, to catch the tail-end of the wonderful market that fills the narrow streets with colour, sound and delicious scents.
From that moment on we will be in an area that we know as well as our home on Dartmoor and I will get my ‘summer fix’ of Provence, wandering through markets, cycling the lanes and watching the world pass me by to the back-drop of screaming cicadas and a cobalt sky – delightful!