We have spent the whole of the last week in Saint Remy de Provence. A place we have been to before, but this time just fell in love. Charming, sophisticated, old Roman town, one of the best markets in Provence (that is saying something), fantastic hiking and cycling. Not much more to ask for. The weather remains very unseasonable, with cool temperatures and more rain than we can remember. Apparently, it has been this way since early April this year.
We completed one of the best hikes we have had in all our travels in the camper van. Vineyards and woodland on the approach, followed by a steep, scrambling ascent to a narrow ridge with views on both sides. A stunning ridge walk was followed by a familiar descent and ended with extra large ice creams in Saint Remy. An unforgettable day.
Our life in the van revolves around hiking and biking. France has an amazing collection of topographical maps covering the whole country. The IGN Bleu maps have a scale of 1:25K and are perfect for our needs. When researching an area to stay the first thing we do is study the IGN map. The country is also crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of GR trails (Grand Randonee) marked on the map. It’s easy to follow these trails because of the consistent red and white markings. Sometimes local trails correspond to parts of the GR trail (markings in yellow). See the photos. By closely looking at the maps we can design our own routes combining GR, minor roads and trails and logging roads.
Our stay in Saint Remy has been topped off with a great Sunday lunch in a family run restaurant populated only with locals (except us).
Tomorrow we are moving on to another of our favourite places down here – Lourmarin.
After that it will be all new territory in the hills of eastern Provence!
To check out a cool jazz group playing on the streets of Saint Remy, click here! JAZZ
Very noisy frogs on hike around Saint Remy, click here! FROGSThings we have learned about Europe this week:
• BREXIT is now alive and well throughout Europe. FREXIT is spreading throughout the land of smelly cheese and red wine. See photos. I wonder how far behind are GREXIT, PORXIT, SPAXIT and ITAXIT?
• The French road signs just get weirder and now include exploding cars. The French hunters also seem to use them for target practice. See photos.
• The Dutch and Belgian campers (of which there are thousands) only go hiking on days when it is raining or cloudy. (I guess they feel at home.) The rest of the time they are lying around at the campsite frying their bodies, while being mesmerized by the yellow orb in the sky.
• The French have instituted a new restaurant concept. We are sure you have all heard of “Bring your own wine”, well in Saint Remy they have instituted “Bring your own food”. The “food” in this case was a rat-sized dog that a customer brought in and which proceeded to lick the table, the crumbs from past dinners and finally the cutlery.
• The campsite at St. Remy is great, but even the best campsites have their peculiarities. There’s no toilet paper in the toilets; the drainboard in the dishwashing area drains onto the floor instead of into the sink; and the water from the faucet goes straight into the floor under the sink in the washrooms. See photos.
• Last week we told you of our upcoming challenge of taking an unwanted kettle back to get our money back. Returning items to a store in France is reputed to be an impossibility. Not so! It was seamless and we walked out with cash in hand.
Travel triviaThis week’s question:
Something new this week! Can anyone identify the fruit on the tree in one of the photos? We took this photo on a hike and are interested to know if anyone can identify what they are.
No “Googling” – answer next week!
Last week’s question: France spans more time zones than any other country in the world, including its overseas territories. How many time zones is that? Is it:
d) 16And the answer is …………………………….12! This is including all its overseas territories. France is closely followed by Russia, which has 11!
Until next week!
Ian & Liz