Blog – the Last “Last” of France………
As we were leaving Saissac we bumped in to Catherine – “Bon Journey” she says. “See you in Dublin” we say. What laughter! As Catehrine will be in Dublin teh same weekend we will be for the ALL Black game……….
We drove from Saissac to Sete (pronounced Set – 3 hours drive) for lunch. It is on the coast and it was pretty – huge sandy beaches. We came across a wind surfing competition and it looked amazing – so many kites. Yes, all those little balck dots in the background are kites too!
For lunch Peter had a whole fish and I had pizzas – the pizzas are great here – different than at home with the tiny bases and interesting toppings. At lunch we had an interesting conversation with a French woman whose sister is the Perfumeries for the Queen in England! I never knew such a job existed!
From Sete to Arles (pronounced Are-ll) for the night. Oh dear – it is one of those towns that has the old city centre with TINY NARROW streets (narrower than most of our footpaths!) and the new city (which looks VERY old to us from NZ!) The GPS tried and tried to get us there but many of the old town streets are closed for us and open only for residents. They have large metal poles in the middle of the streets that residents scan a card or something and the poles disappear for a minute while they drive through.
Sooooooooooo, after an hour of trying to find the hotel we parked and found it by foot. Luckily we were quite close as we had to carry our bags from there. The hotel was very old but check out these hand basins in the toilets at the bar!
And the security system we weren’t so sure about. When we arrived back after dinner there was no one at reception so I leaned over and picked up our key…… now anyone could have done that I am sure!
We had asked at reception re a restaurant recommendation. On our way we passed a street seller of paella – check out the photo and make sure you look at the back of the photo to see the size of the chairs and table in the back in relation to the paella dish! It was HUGE! We were lining up to take photos of it!
So off we go to the recommended restaurant to be told no tables till 9pm. So we agree to come back. Had a drink in the meantime and then went back. What a stroke of luck- we got seated next to a young French couple who were celebrating their Civil Union that day. She is a mid wife (they told us a “middle” wife but we got the meaning ) and he an artist. We had a wonderful night with them as they spoke relatively good English. Had many toasts, digestives, etc. and the food was great. Peter had guinea fowl and I beef with the most amazing morel sauce!
At 12.30am we left the “honeymooners” to it and went back to the hotel…………
The next day it was the “biggest market in France” apparently on in Arles. It was huge – the food side amazing but the clothes and such I am not so sure about – a bit “tacky”. I had “chocolate tomatoes” – they are black in skin and tasted just like ordinary tomatoes – the woman seller was highly amused all I wanted to buy were 4 tomatoes! Cost 50 cents you know! I didn’t like at all the cramped cages and cages of hens, coqs, baby ducks, rabbits, guinea fowls etc for sale. Exit, stage right, quickly!
Then we left Arles and went to Orange for the night. For some reason I have always wanted to visit Orange – not sure why – probably something I learnt about in school girl French classes. It was a pretty but not much happening town – probably explains why all but one of the hotels there are 2 star. We stayed in the 2 star hotel which was adequate but again the room keys were actually hanging in the foyer for anyone to take!
The town has an amphitheater which has amazing concerts apparently.
We ate at a lovely restaurant recommended by the hotel. Peter had foie gras hot and cold for his entrée and I, fava bean soup. Then for main Peter had duck with mushroom sauce (he said very lovely) and I rabbit served with quenelles of quinoa and sauce. Mmmmmmmm. The waiter was excellent and beside us was a table of 10 women from Sweden – on a cycle tour of France. They were having a great time and we enjoyed their laughter and antics!
The next day from Orange via the Pont Du Gard to Grenoble. It is such a beautiful little city and we loved it – thought we could live there. In the heart of the French Alps – summer is hot winter is skiing and snow.
Anyway, Pont Du Gard. Built in 50 AD and an amazing size. We were awed! And that is saying something with all the ruins and Roman sights we have seen in the last 5 months.
From there to Grenoble. And happens I had booked a new hotel – so from ancient old things to brand new – it was a new experience for us! The smell of new paint! Plasma TV! Clean carpet! Oh la la! And the other new thing for us was that the car parking was under the hotel and you had to use a car lift to get in to it. So, drive in to a lift, doors close, (like you are in a capsule) and slowly you are lowered in to the basement. Very odd sensation in a car.
Went walking and to explore the old town. It is so beautiful! And the people so friendly. We happened on a local pottery market – oh my – was there some amazing and beautiful items there. But we couldn’t work out how I could get them home in one piece so here they stay. Peter was feeling like a burger for tea so we went to a “pub”. Peter got a beer
and a burger and I got what they told me is the local specialist – ravioli! But not like I have ever had before – it was tiny tiny tiny – like the size of your small fingernail. And it was delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The next day we walked along the beautiful river walk to the cable car station, to go up to the old fortress on the hill.
What a view! What history! Not much to say other than these photos………… Oh well, yes, we did tramp up 30 minutes of steep hill to a memorial site in the heat of the day…….. Phew!!
Oh yes – these are the wee cable car bubbles we went in!
Today we left and went via Chambery town (not much to mention there – we had filled rolls in the park for lunch which were nice) then to Annecy. We are now very close to Geneva and Switzerland. We have noticed the change in housing to have steep roofs to allow the snow to slide and the mountains – which are so beautiful. The place we are staying tonight is more like a B&B than a hotel and is a wee bit out of town. But look at this view!!!!!!!!!!! It is a lot like Queenstown we think. Good for the soul and very relaxing watching the boats come and go and all the sailing yachts.
Au revoir – goodbye from France. Love and good wishes to you all. Jo and Peter xx