The magic of Provence

Provence has always been a spot I wanted to visit because of its history and beautiful vistas. One of the reasons I chose this cruise was because it ended in Avignon and gave us a perfect opportunity to stay there a few extra days. But where? As you might expect, there are many, many places to stay in the Avignon area, both inside and outside the walls of the historic city. I had almost settled on a hotel outside the walls when a friend who had been there said we must stay inside the walls. Since he had been to Provence many time, I immediately moved my search only to places inside the historic city.  This reduced my search pool but as you probably know, if you’ve never been to a place, your choice is always somewhat of a crap shoot.

Our home away from home in Provence. Our room faced the street, the first row of windows above ground level.

Of course I read dozens of reviews of the likely candidates but no matter how good the rating, there are always one or two negative postings. At this point, the gut instinct comes into play. My instinct told me to avoid the hotels near the square and choose instead a small B&B called Le Limas.  The owner, Marion Wagner, had a very clear and easy to navigate web site which also appealed to me. It was not the least expensive by any means, and it did have stairs but the location was very good. In addition, she was quick to answer any questions I had..

When, the SS Catherine returned to Avignon on the last night of the cruise, we packed  before dinner and were  ready for our next adventure the following morning. Disembarking from a river cruise is  a busy time and often confusing time as passengers head off at different times to different places. Most were going to the airport but a few were staying on or traveling by train. Ms Wagner, our hostess sent a cab for us later in the morning. We found Le Limas just as it had been pictured, a tall 19th century building, on a quiet street an easy walk  from the main square of Avignon. Our room was one flight up fairly steep stairs, but the view was a pleasant one, overlooking the street. It was large and comfortable with an en suite bath. We learned later that Le Limas had a rooftop terrace with a view of the Pope’s Palace; this was a wonderful place to watch the sun set every evening. Unfortunately there was no elevator so we had to climb more stairs to reach it. It was worth it though.

We spent a relaxing day walking around the square and ate a somewhat mediocre evening meal at one of the many restaurants on the square. The Ramblers didn’t mind as we had eaten very well on the Catherine, but we found, as  we already knew, that you can go wrong in choosing a restaurant in France. LOL The next day would be a busy one;I had scheduled all day tours for the next two days through Viator. The first day we would visit a variety of beautiful and historic places in Provence while on the second, , we would tour a selected group of Provence wineries, including Chateau Neuf de Pape.

View of the Pope’s Palace at sunset from the terasse at Las Limas.

As it turned out, our tours were quite different. Both were interesting but we enjoyed the second much more than the first. The reason was simple; on the first tour, our guide spent most of his time speaking in French to a third passenger, who said she spoke no English, even though this was supposed to be an English language tour. As the day went on, he spoke more and more to her, and less to us.To make matters worse, he kept turning around to look at us, and spent much time waving his arms around when he should have had them on the steering wheel. Many of the roads were narrow and full of traffic and his driving style was un-nerving even for the Senior Rambler. We did see some beautiful places but we were pretty much dropped off and left to wander around which we did. We actually didn’t mind this, although we would have like a little more information on what we were seeing.

We were worried about the second tour on which we were supposed to visit some of the  famed Provence wineries. It couldn’t have been more different as our driver went out of his way to make us comfortable and took us inside the wineries himself.

Having a tour go wrong is one reason we always book our tours through Trip Adviser’s site Viator.  When got home, I emailed them about the problem we had with the first guide. They asked if I would be satisfied with a 50% refund. Of course I was as we had seen a good many interesting places even though the guide did not do his job.


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