The unconventional sleep schedule from the first night worked, we woke up at 0830 and enjoyed a huge breakfast in the tasting room. We had a few options
for places to visit on our drive to Rayol Canadel Sur Mer.
- The wine road mentioned in Rick Steves's book was a priority for Jes
- Papal Palace/Pont d'Avignon had come highly recommended from Sophie
- Pont du Gard was another mention from Rick Steves
- Aix-en-Provence seemed like a cool town to check out
- Marseille had a basillica that Jes wanted to check out, as well as some coastal hikes
- Somewhere between Avignon and Marseille was a castle that seemed worth checking out
We settled on aiming for Avignon since it was just off the motorway, from there we could decide on whether to tour the Palais de Papes and/or eat lunch and keep going. We swung by the south end of the wine road, though it didn't look too different from our inbound drive.
On arriving at Avignon, Jessica
grabbed the wheel and plunged us into a parking garage, saying something to the effect of "omg it's like a huge castle". Indeed, without even seeing the palace, Avignon has a rather impressive city wall and interior
We walked through the medieval city to the palace exterior and decided to take the self-guided audio/tablet tour.
The tablets had some cool features, like an augmented reality display that showed a rendering of various rooms from their better days.
The sheer magnitude of some of the rooms
was the most impressive part of the palace...
... particularly when the engineering feat was juxtaposed with where interior decorating was in the 1300s.
Right? The other best part of the tour was standing on the tower, admiring the view, and realizing that you were ten stories up on 700 year old construction.
The palais tour had a small upsell to add on a walk to the pont. It was worth it.
Gigondas to Rayol Canadel sur Mer via Avignon and Aix en Provence.
Spending a couple hours in Avignon meant we needed to push on to the coast, but stopped in Aix for lunch
. Driving through town felt like the running of the bulls, so we eventually peeled off and found parking with just a short walk into the town center.
The narrow, carless streets made for a nice walk to absorb the atmosphere and get "tacos" (panini-grilled pitas).
Rayol Canadel Sur Mer
After a bit more driving in the light rain, we found our hotel on the Med. About the size of Gigondas, this town consisted of coastal villas rather than dense tenements. Our accomodations
were just up the hill from the beach and featured a nice view
The concierge looked in to scuba options, but being the offseason the only option was an upcoming boat trip the day we needed to leave for Paris.
We walked up the hill to take stock of the restaurant and market options. Not having the appetite for a full dinner, we grabbed some instant noodles and other snacks. And we checked out the beach situation. Crystal clear water in the low 60s and dreary conditions