We bid farewell to Caroline and her son Fergus and climbed into a cab for the Paris Gare de Lyon Train Station. We were probably much too early and had to wait, sitting on the floor since there were no chairs available. There was a detachment of 3 soldiers patrolling the station with machine guns! At last it was time to board our SNCF high speed train (TGV). We had reserved seats on the second level in first class. However, it did not have the ambiance of the Thalys train we took from Brussels. Food was not included and by the time Tom arrived at the “dining car” they had run out of most offerings. The countryside flashed by as we sped along at 130mph.
We arrived in Avignon right on time and walked down to the Hertz Rental Car building. After a bit of familiarization with the help of the friendly attendant, we began to slowly understand our Peugeot. It has an “eco” feature which turns the engine off when you stop in drive and when you remove your foot from the brake, it restarts the engine. Not the best for a fast getaway! France is full of roundabouts and we only had to try 3 times before realizing that there must have been a smaller first exit that we did not see and took the 3rd rather than the second exit. Then, when we got to our hotel, we could not find the entrance as we had expected. Tom parked the car on the side street next to the hotel and walked to the desk. They said, “Why of course, you park in the underground parking and take the elevator to the hotel right here.” We guess everybody must know this??!! After wedging the car into a spot (no easy task), we headed up the elevator and checked in. Our room for the next 4 days is on the ground floor with our door opening into a courtyard. The sun was setting as we walked across the street along the walls of the ancient city to our first meal in Avignon at L’AGAPE which is rated in the top 10 on Trip Advisor. We had a wonderful meal, toasting our success in driving the few miles from the station to the hotel. What adventures would we be off on tomorrow? We turned down the air conditioning and snuggled under the duvet for a well deserved night’s sleep.