Saturday - 9/18/10
Our second night in Beaune, I parked the car in an open lot down the street from the hotel, not wishing to deal with their tight garage again. I couldn’t find a pay station, so asked a woman if it was a free lot, and she said yes, so saved us 9.50 Euros. Another successful conversation in French – well, mostly French – a lot of sign language was used.
There were 2 bus loads staying at the hotel and I couldn’t load up our car until one of the buses left, so after breakfast, we brought our luggage down just after the 1st bus left, and I went to get the car. Beaune has a ring road that is one-way counter clock-wise, and because of where I was parked, I had to drive all the way around the town so I could get back to the hotel – only took 10-15 minutes. As I said before, it isn’t a very big town. We got the car loaded up and were on our way south on the A6 by 10:00AM.
Originally, I had planned to make a couple of sightseeing stops along the way, but decided I would rather just get going as I was anxious to get to the house and get settled. I put Francine (our GPS) to work and she did a brilliant job of getting us through Lyon, which is a very large city, and the traffic was very heavy.
The French autoroute system puts our interstate system to shame. The road is smooth, well maintained, and clean. There are rest stops, call “aires” spaced frequently along the highway. A few are just picnic spots and restrooms, but most of them have a café or restaurant, gift shop, and gas. Some even have motels. However, they are toll roads and not cheap. It cost us 19.60 Euros from Paris to Beaune, and I think a little over 25 Euros from Beaune to Avignon. They also have whimsical sculptures periodically alongside the highway, and do an excellent job of showing what historical or tourist sight is off the next exit. We had lunch at one of the aires at – would you believe – McDonalds! It was jam-packed, too, and we didn’t hear a lot of English being spoken…none that I recall. They had kiosks where you could order your food and pay by debit or credit card, then just pick it up – pretty slick. We had grilled chicken sandwiches called “So Grilled” – it was a new recipe, apparently.
When we got to the Avignon exit we were to call the owners of the house we are renting so they could meet us there. We called from an aire just outside Avignon and spoke with the owner, who speaks pretty good English. I didn’t have really good instructions to find the house – the best directions were in French – so relied on Francine. She took us down a one-lane back road and got us to the road the house is on, but we didn’t see the house or anything with the house number on it. I wasn’t really sure what the house looked like from the front because the pictures I’d seen were all from the back. We drove up the road again, and I called the owner, but he didn’t pick-up. There was a man in his yard nearby, so I approached him and asked him for help in French. I showed him the French directions, but I couldn’t understand what he said in reply, but started out up the road again. We meandered up a narrow road to an old village, and the owner called – we had to go back, but he would wait for us in front. We went back to where Francine first led us and started down the road again. Finally, we saw a man and a dog standing at the foot of a long driveway – it was Louis! The house isn’t even on the road, but at the top of that long driveway.
When we got up to the house, Louis’ wife Cathy was there, and they showed us the house. It’s a very spacious house with a large kitchen, large salon (living room) and dining room, 2 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms. One bedroom has 2 sets of bunk beds for kids. One has a queen sized bed and one has 2 twins. The grounds are nicely kept - the lavender is done blooming, but there are olives on the several olive trees around the back. Louis says they harvest the olives in November and take them to a mill. Last year they got 13 liters of olive oil from their own trees. The décor inside is very Provence-like: Bright yellow and orange in the main room, tile floors throughout. The bedrooms are white and the bathrooms are tiled. They had the house built for his parents, so it isn’t too old.
Louis & Cathy told us where we could find a grocery store, so after they left, we went to Cavaillon, about 10 KM away to the supermarket – it’s huge – sort of like a Fred Meyer store. In addition to some food, we had to buy things like dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, TP, paper towels, etc. as these houses are normally rented to Europeans who bring their own from home. We also bought a couple of bath towels to supplement what are here – we’ll take everything we don’t use with us to the next house. The supermarket was a madhouse. I learned that tired kids are the same here as in the US – cranky!
When we got home, I fixed dinner of hamburger steaks, potatoes, and tomato salad. We had cassis sorbet (black current) for dessert.
We went to bed early as we were both beat – my light was out by 10.