This time last week, Andy was back in Exeter, making sure that everything was ready for his return back to France. He had his sheaf of paperwork ready, his European vaccine passport on his phone, and his rucksack packed for the train journey home to Provence.
After trying just about every possible way to travel back, we’ve found that we much prefer the trip down by train, especially with the added enjoyment of walking between stations in both London and Paris. Somehow, doing the journey this way, seems so much more real than just hopping on a plane, as you feel the distance travelled, experiencing all the shifts in landscape and culture as you go Taking the trains from Exeter to Provence.
By 8pm last Monday, I was sitting outside Avignon TGV station, waiting for Andy to arrive, and for us to be able to start, what we hope this time, will be a longer period together, than we have managed for a while. Over the last few months, life has certainly thrown many twists and turns our way, which have disrupted even our best made plans.
Living in France means that our life has (quite understandably) shifted from us just being here on holiday, spending our days with a happy, holiday mentality, blissfully away from the realities of day to day life, to having to make sure we get on and do all the necessities of life, those mundane, tasks that just have to be done for our existence here to be able to continue as we want it to.
So there was no time for Andy to ease himself slowly into being back, as after arriving home late on Monday night, we were up early again the next morning, to drive back to Avignon to get the car serviced. Of course, it is still possible to find a bit of excitement and a lot of joy in doing these tasks… yes, even pottering in to get the car serviced, can put a smile on our faces.
The garage is on the outskirts of the city, close to one of the stations on the recently installed tram route, that takes you quickly, and efficiently to the stop, outside the central railway station and one of the gates through the ancient city walls. We hadn’t used the tram here before, so took the opportunity to buy a ticket, and head into the city to enjoy breakfast, whilst the work was being done.
We had somehow chosen the day for the service well, as we stumbled across the weekly Brocante market in the area around Les Halles…
We took the chance to explore a little further than we have done previously, wandering down little side roads, which reminded us so much of the back lanes of Montpellier, with hidden little squares, and a superb bakery for a very relaxed breakfast…
And as we hopped back on the tram to go to collect the car (before the garage closed for lunch) we decided that we would come back again soon and spend an afternoon here, perhaps tying it in with the son et lumiere that is taking place again this autumn at the Palais Des Papes.
Since that first busy day, with a few other little interruptions thrown in, we’ve managed to get back to some of the more enjoyable (and less expensive) aspects of life here. Heading back out on the bikes…..
Enjoying an evening’s picnic at Caseneuve, whilst watching a spectacular sunset Some favourite picnic spots ….
Pottering across to a brocante at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, and taking a chance to look at an artisan market taking place there too, with a mind to applying to be able to join them in the future….
And sitting with an ice-cream, whilst cooling our feet in the clear waters of the Sorgue, whilst watching the wily old Mallards wait for figs to fall from a tree into the water, then enjoying the squabbling and quacking, as they fought over each fruit that dropped.
Then of course there has been Fifi-time and this morning we decided to have a slow Sunday, pottering up to Simiane La Rotonde for breakfast and to take a look at the vide grenier that was taking place there. It’s such a pretty place and wandering through the village with Millie we ambled along lanes we haven’t taken before, munching incredibly sweet, juicy grapes that were handed to us by a very friendly chap who was harvesting them from the vine outside his house…..
As we went, we found even more hidden gems than we have before ….
And saw the village from new angles too …
Having parked up by the Rotonde, we felt we would miss an opportunity if we didn’t take her a little bit further, so decided to head across the Saint Christol Plateau to sault, before heading back via Javon and Lioux.
We didn’t regret it, with Fifi’s new 435cc engine working perfectly, as we made our way up each and every hill (and there are a few). It would be fair to say that she doesn’t exactly power her way up the inclines, and even overtaking cyclists needs to be well-planned in advance, but driving across the plateau, through the newly-harvested lavender fields, with the view of Mont Ventoux towering in the distance, was just a joy…
Sweeping back down the gorge towards Saint Saturnin we passed a stream of old Vespas and vintage cars heading in the opposite direction, each rider, driver and passenger waving cheerily as we passed, with the final one in the group of Vespas blowing Fifi a kiss too…
Then back down into the valley, via the road that winds its way off the plateau, below the dramatic Falaise de La Madeleine, that provides such a stark backdrop to the pretty village of Lioux that nestles below it….
Back home now, and sitting on the terrace watching the clouds shift in the sky above Caseneuve, we finally feel that we are back, more settled into life again, and planning what needs to be done in the week ahead. Fitting in all the things we love, between french lessons, dental appointments, and the added excitement of a private visit with friends to the Apt Museum, and its Roman artefacts, which will be fascinating.
If I’m honest though, after the chaos, and busy-ness of the last three months, it is just nice to be able to start doing all these things together again.
Let’s make the most of it, before life’s next throw of the dice takes place …