Sweatin’ it out in Cassis

Our first full day in Provence we decided to hop in the car and go take a look at the ocean. It seemed silly to be so close to the Mediterranean and not go say hello. So we asked the friendly staff at the hotel for a good day outing and they suggested Cassis. My only knowledge of Cassis is that it was a flavor of sorbet offered at Haagen-Dazs back when I worked there in college in 1987. And I guess I knew that it was also a liqueur made from red currants. But that was it.

It was definitely the right day to be at the beach. Hot, sunny, and kind of humid. The only problem was that we really didn’t have all the basics for a good day at the beach. We had swimsuits, sunscreen and sunglasses, but no towels. I lived in Hawaii for two years, I love the beach and am not afraid of sand. But, I don’t like trying to be tourist and beachgoer on the same day. Unless you have a giant bag allowing for change of clothes and a clean, dry, place to change, shower, get rid of the sand, etc. it just seems too darn messy. Plus we had to get on a crowded shuttle bus to get to our car, and we had plans to go to Aix-en-Provence later in the day. It was just all too much. And the humidity had me cranky. I was hoping I had left that behind in DC. In the end John got in the water and I merely waded in up to my short line. Refreshing, but not as satisfying as a day at the beach. Next time I won’t try and cram touring in on a beach day. And we would have thought of towels before we got to the beach and they were charing 22 Euros for ugly touristy beach towels.

Hotel Particulier: Urban Oasis in Arles

When we finally got to our hotel Arles were were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. L’Hotel Particulier is a great boutique hotel in a very unassuming neighborhood in the center of town. Behind the big wood doors is a courtyard with a really lovely pool surrounded by beautiful lounge areas and a few terraces that go with a few of the rooms. We were lucky enough to get one with a terrace overlooking everything. The bed wasn’t very good, but that is a matter I will save for Trip Advisor.

SNAFU French Style

Well I thought the French high speed train system would run on a tight schedule and missing connections wouldn’t be an issue. And I was wrong. Our TGV from Tours was supposed to connect in Massy (i.e., the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Paris) to hop another TGV down to Avignon. Unfortunately the first train was late and the connecting train was not. Which meant we got to spend four hours at the Massy train station. But we made lemonade. The temperature was comfortable, the toilettes were clean, food was available, and there was a comfy little cafe table for us to while away the hours. I actually managed to write 26 postcards during that time. It turned out to be time well spent.


When I was in 4th grade I checked out a book from the library on the Chateaux of the Loire Valley of France. I was fascinated and kept the book for some time, renewing it multiple times. Well about 31 years later I got to see them for real. Chenonceau was one of my favorites. I couldn’t believe there was a house that actually straddled a river.
Although the River Cher didn’t seem all that big in person, it kind of dwarfs Ron and Barry in their rent-a-boat in the final photo.