Monday, August 26, 2013

France! We've made it to France! Friday, June 21st

Today we would be docking in Provence, Marseille, France at 10:00 am and be in port until 7:00 pm, final on board at 6:30. It was nice to have a relaxing morning, but still a long day in port! I sort of feel like France is a little bonus on this trip!  We've been so many places, and still have so many more cities to see, but getting to go to Provence almost feels a bit out of place with the rest of the countries and cities we've been to!  I'm absolutely not complaining because this is a day I'm truly looking forward to!

We have a day planned with Provence-Connection Tours, and we found our driver, Marcel, right away. He was very personable. You could tell right away how much he loved his job, he loved his country and he especially loved talking about the places he would be taking us. My dad sat in the front of the van and spent the day talking to Marcel about everything from the country, to the sites, to nuclear power to the school system in France! It was fascinating to listen to them. I think my dad found a kindred spirit! While Marcel was a good driver/guide, there were a few times where he got off track talking and took a wrong turn or two and I started to actually wonder if we’d get back to the ship in time once or twice!

Our first stop was Arles. It was amazing to me how you step out of the van and you truly feel like you’re in France! We had a short stop at the old Theater

and then the Arena, or Colosseum. 

These are all Roman Ruins.

Then we had some time to walk around the little town. This is again another circular town set around the Colosseum  So quaint and charming with little shops and home set in a circular formation.

I again just “loved it here” as I mentioned several times during this trip to my kids who were walking with me! “Ok mom, we got it!” 

On our way to our next stop we passed by Le Cafe La Nuit where Vincent Van Gogh once painted and actually painted the cafe itself in a picture as well.

Next we drove to Pont du Gard. This is a huge Aqueduct bridge from the Roman Empire. It was built in 1 AD and is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved. It was quite a sight!

Unfortunately Megan wasn’t feeling too well. I think she was a bit car sick. So Mimi and her stopped at the little cafĂ© and had a snack.

The rest of us walked up to the main viewing area for some pictures. There was a nice park area there with what seemed like some school or camp kids and even some cabanas set up by the water.

Next up....we visit Avignon!  Crossing the Rhone River (It's out the van window, so not the best shot!)

We first walked up to the Pope’s Palace. This really looked like quite a castle! 

Alex and I walked up to the gardens and had a great view of the Rhone River and the Avignon Bridge. Mimi and Grandpop followed behind. Keith stayed with Megan and sat in the square by the Palace.

We had about an hour to wander around here. This was where we would be eating lunch. Marcel recommended we find a quick “grab and go” type lunch. I found a Panini that I liked – it was tomato and chevre cheese. No one else really found anything that appealed to them. Really? Finally of all things, Megan and Keith found cheeseburgers and Fries – are they French Fries? Alex found a four cheese Panini – like a grilled cheese. He was getting really grumpy at this point. He needed his food fill! He couldn’t find pizza and felt nothing would satisfy him! Thank goodness we found the Panini! He’s not the most adventurous eater! I’m not sure what my parents ate- by this time we had split up and met later at the van.

I really enjoyed Avignon and would have loved to spend more time browsing all of the shops and art stands!

Our last stop of the day was Les Baux.

I think this was my favorite part of the day, and I just have to come back here! Actually to this entire region of France. Again – it would be uttered from me more than once “I LOVE this place!” Oh my goodness – the views! The shops, the fact that we were walking in a little village built into the side of a mountainside! We didn’t make it to the castle, and only made it into a few shops. But I’ll say it again – I loved it there! Charming! It seemed at the time I was taking many pictures, but apparently I didn’t. I think I was too amazed with the actual sights.

I was just browsing and oohing at all of the little stores, sure they’re all geared towards tourists, but all of the soaps and perfumes and lavender!

Megan went off with my parents and I was with Keith and Alex. Alex found a candy store and his day was complete! I won’t even tell you how many Euros we spent there! But that candy weighed a lot!

Every single day so far has been beyond perfect! This was no exception!

We made our way back to the Epic, with a few more wrong turns from Marcel. Crazy! We laughed about it, and I did feel assured since when we were in Les Baux we bumped into some people from our ship on a ship tour and we were leaving 30 minutes before they were. I felt we had a good cushion!

I’d heard some people on the ship and also read some reviews as well of some people who were planning to just stay on board on the Marseille port because there wasn’t much to do. We ventured out into the countryside and it was one of the most beautiful days we had! The Provence region of France was gorgeous! We saw so much in this day! Our tour was spaced out perfectly – while sure it would have been great to spend more time in each place, seeing as much as we did gave us a fantastic overview of this region! I’m so glad we did what we did here!

The four of us had reservations tonight for Blue Man Group.  The Blue Man Group is included in the cruise, so it's not an extra cost. We’ve all seen it before, so we know the show and we know we like it. Alex is a percussionist and he really enjoys that aspect of the show. Last minute, Megan decided to skip out and go to the kid club.

We enjoyed the Blue Man Group, as expected. It was packed. It was nice to sit back, relax and just laugh. And then Alex went off to the teen club. But not before seeing an all time favorite - yes...

Just look - even at nearly 14, my teen still loves Spongebob! I'll have to admit, when they were little kids, I couldn't stand Spongebob, now that they're older - I'll take Spongebob over so many other shows on tv! I was happy to stand there for the picture!

We went to the early show and then Keith and I went to Wasabi for dinner. It was really good and even though it’s a pay a la carte restaurant, we felt it was priced very reasonably and we left feeling very satisfied. 

When we got back to the cabin, both kids were already back. Alex seems to like the Royal Caribbean teen club a bit more. 

Tomorrow we have yet another adventure!

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