I must admit that for the first time I had let poor reviews cloud my judgement and fill me with dread regarding our upcoming flight to Lyon. I made the huge mistake of researching Transavia Airlines a day prior to leaving Tel Aviv and what I read gave me the willies. Lets just say that those who had taken the time to review their past experience with Transavia were not too complimentary.
Knowing that this was to be our longest flight during the trip (save the trans Atlantic ones) I was convinced I was about have to start believing that Ryanair was actually decent. And that was going to be a huge ask given their business acumen.
Well as it goes Transavia saved the day and rekindled my love of discount airlines that Ryanair had done its best to ruin. It was a great trip and one I would not hesitate to take again. Friendly staff, comfortable seats and a smooth journey. Upon arrival in Lyon the pilot even came over the PA to advise that he was very sorry that the airport in Lyon was not managed properly and that it was one of the worst organised that he frequents. He continued to say that he would be making a formal complaint to the airport authority for the time we spent on the tarmac waiting for a gate.
Out of the front doors of the Airport and we said au revoir for the evening as we were staying at different hotels. My discount place was reasonable and no nonsense with a stark but modern style. All I needed was a place to recoup and reacclimatise to normal temperatures and a more laid back approach. Seven hours later I wandered down to the continental breakfast buffet and stocked up on yogurt, coffee, and of course pain au chocolate. All of this simple sophistication compliments of the Ibis Hotel staff.
Dale arrived with our Citroen rental car 20 minutes later and soon after we were southbound on the A7 ready to tackle the busy freeway & toll booths. It costs you a few extra Euros to take advantage of the directness of the A7 and the speeds that it allows. As long as you travel below 140 kph you are good and free of speed camera fines.
We were soon nearing Avignon. I have had the pleasure of visiting there in the past but this time we travelled just a little south of town to an art installation so typically french with a combination of an outside the box venue matching perfectly with the work of Vincent Van Gogh. I have to firstly thank one of the guys at Sound Hounds in Victoria for tipping me off to this “gallery’ as he raved about it when I was in sniffing around a stereo upgrade a few months ago.
Dale dropped me out front and I grabbed tickets while he parked up. Just a couple of minutes later and we were entering into the depths of a once busy quarry / mine and about to have our minds blown by the collective works of Vincent projected on to every 100’ granite wall, ceiling, and floor. With the vastness of everything inside coupled with the colours and musical accoutrement it was an experience I will long remember and cherish.
From there we set sale for the Luberon and the heart of Provence. We followed the twisting narrow roads through village after village, taking stock of what each had to offer. Places such as Sault, Lacoste, Saint Christol, Rustrel and Murs were fantastic. We stopped along the way for typical french sustenance. Everything you should try and everything they do except for the midday vin rouge. Can’t be on the drink when you drive the paved goat paths of this rural area just to the Northeast of Mt. Ventoux (for the Tour de France fans out there).
That night we grabbed a cheap little place in Apt. Apt is a sizeable town of 50,000. Everything you could want or need. We decided upon Le Petite Histoire for dinner and that turned out to be an excellent decision. The French don’t leave their homes for dinner until around 9pm so we turned up early to get a seat and perhaps the meal of the trip. Dale had the Octopus prepared in garlic butter and presented as a whole tentacle on a bed of mashed yam.
I took our waiter’s advice and went with the glutinous Tomahawk of beef. Paired with a local organic Syrah and fresh root vegetables it did not disappoint. The entree was followed by a Tiramisu that tasted like an angel had *%£^ in my glass. As the families began to arrive we were heading for some shut eye.
The following day was spent in Bonnieux and Saignon in the morning where I made some contact with realtors. At noon we set sail for Goult and the typical french three course lunch with plat du jour and two hours to enjoy it.
After a great lunch we wandered the local streets. Once the meal wore off we returned to Chateau La Cornogue in Bonnieux to purchase some wine to take home. This vineyard has been around for sometime and played host to the cast and crew of a Russel Crowe movie shot there over a decade ago titled “A Good Year”. That movie drew me to the place many years ago and each successive trip keeps me retuning every year.
From Cornogue we headed for Lyon to drop the wheels and prepare for our return home.
Thirty hours later we wandered off the ferry at Schwartz Bay after four flights and long layovers. Thanks to KLM and British Airways for the safe and enjoyable flights. All four went by without issue and capped off a really enjoyable and may I say epic journey. For me, this trip has ticked many of my travel boxes and has forced me to grow and appreciate things I had no experience of in the past. Seventeen days, eight countries. C’est Magnifique!
Cheers Dale! Thanks for the companionship along the way….