After our train arrived in Avignon and we’d left the station, it was easy to tell we were no longer in the big, busy city of Paris. The landscapes were quieter, the din of traffic was abated, and the soft scents of lavender hinted at the senses in the gentle breezes.
Our first stop was the old fortified city center of Avignon where we had a few minutes to ourselves. I quickly toured a museum of religious iconography before we visited the city’s famous Palais des Papes. This was a tour guided via a touchscreen tablet, which offered an augmented reality view of the site, giving visitors an idea of the majesty and beauty the building had in the 14th century.
We then headed to the small town of Arles. I know the name of this city because of its association with Van Gogh. We had a delicious meal of cordon bleu outside in the warm air in the center of a lively town square. After dinner a few of us visited an artisan glaciere for a cold treat. I ate a fig sorbet and another chaperone, Brian, and I enjoyed a pleasant stroll through the narrow streets of Arles enjoying conversation and the beautiful sights and sounds of the town.
We arrived at the hotel a few minutes later. It is quite the change of pace from the outskirts of Paris—here there is grass, open space, and room to roam. The kids played soccer, chased some chickens, and practiced gymnastics while the adults enjoyed local wines and each other’s company.
We have two nights here in Arles before heading to Barcelona. As our tour guide, Rafa, said, this is our “vacation within our vacation.”
Today will be a beautiful day in Provençe.