Aix-en-Provence

May 28th – June 1st, 2016

We took the TGV from Paris to Aix-en- Provence. I was very excited about taking the TGV (200 mph train) to the next destination. We rented a Renault mid-size SUV. It was like driving a go kart, but I loved it.

Provence had the feel of a very old small town. The architecture was stunning, as was the lush surrounding environment you would expect in the South of France.
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We had three full days to explore.
Day 1 – May 29th
We wandered into town for lunch, and discovered that nothing is open on Sundays in France.  Fortunately, we did find a bagel place – but it did have a strict 500 bagel limit per person. After lunch we walked through the Sunday market on a beautiful promenade. We purchased some lavender soaps (which smelled amazing).
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At Melodie’s suggestion, we took the TGV over to Avignon for the afternoon. I was thrilled because we were able to ride the TGV again!
Avignon was a very interesting old walled city. Fun fact – several popes resided in Avignon during the 14th century. We walked through the city, up to the top of the hill and took plenty of pictures. It was kind of hectic catching a train back to Aix-en-Provence, but we made it.
We capped off day one with an interesting overpriced sushi dinner, and a few bottles of wine back at the house.
Day 2 – May 30th
It was prom day. So it seemed at least. The girls got dressed up in anticipation of seeing the lavender fields for some epic picture taking opportunities.  Melodie and I had mapped out our day via Google Maps, which proved very helpful with the lack of cellular service available in the countryside.
Our first stop was impromptu. We stumbled upon an old vineyard that had an open tasting room.  The drive in was gorgeous.  We were all pretty taken aback by the beauty of the Chateau. After tasting (and purchasing a few bottles) of their delicious wine, we got back on the road.
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We were in search of a place to stop for lunch, and somehow stumbled into this – 
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After that odd detour, we finally arrived at a scenic spot for lunch – and it did not disappoint!
Lunch was delicious, but I could sense that Sally doubted that we would actually find lavender fields. A short 20 minute drive after lunch had us actually in the lavender fields.
We learned the night before that the purple bloom was not until late June, but the lavender scent was still very strong.
On our way home we stopped by another vineyard to do another tasting, which was very nice. It was a much more modern vineyard, but the wine was very good.
For dinner, I somehow convinced the ladies to eat Indian food in France. It was delicious, and even Lindsay enjoyed it! We capped off the amazingly scenic day with more wine of course.
Day 3 – May 31st
Our last day in France was reserved for the coast. We drove 45 min southeast of Aix to a tiny little coastal town called Mejean, across the bay from Marseille.  The drive once we got close to the coast was absolutely insane. I am certainly glad we had an SUV because it was a lot of up and down and winding curves. Lindsay was teetering on the edge of serious motion sickness, and was thrilled to get out of the car once we arrived.
The restaurant Melodie found was amazing (Le Mange-Tout). The fresh seafood restaurant was on a pretty scenic cove overlooking the Mediterranean. After lunch, we walked up a hiking trail for some scenic pictures and headed into Marseille.
Marseille
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Marseille was a very interesting place. The city was very diverse and did not appear to be very well maintained (graffiti, trash, etc).  We went to a beach directly in a heavily populated downtown area.  The winds were too strong for anyone to really enjoy the beach, so we walked to a nearby hotel and had drinks on the rooftop bar.
Content that we had seen plenty of landscape and other beautiful sights, we headed back to the house to make spaghetti for dinner and finishing off the rest of the delicious wine that needed to be drank before we headed to Spain!
– Next stop: Spain –
We dropped off Melodie at the TGV and thanks her profusely for all the translating, planning and many other efforts to ensure that the rest of us had a very enjoyable time in France!  We had a direct flight to Barcelona, which was great.
JRL
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