Avignon – getting there

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Lavender in front of Pont Saint-Bénézet – the famous bridge from the song – Sur le pont d’Avignon …. Japanese tourists love being photographed in lavender fields …

Some air travel information:

  1. You can take empty plastic bottles through security as there are plenty of drinking fountains where you can fill up your water bottles.
  2. Make sure there is more than the computer generated time between flights.
  3. Carry those emergency drugs in your handbag for easy finding if you need it! There is no point having them on board but having to search for them when you aren’t in any state to do so.
  4. There are no immigration forms to fill in for France as there are for the USA, UK and New Zealand.

I was very pleased to arrive in Avignon as I had had a terrible couple of flights as first of all there was a toddler screaming on and off for 5 hours in the row I was in, and then I got sick just before arriving in San Francisco – It wasn’t a bug or food poisoning but it had the same effect! Not at all nice. It may have been a form of migraine as I was so tired. Unfortunately I had not been able to buy the stuff I have taken with great success in the past – Flyhydrate – as I didn’t realise they were only selling on line – if you are travelling it is definitely worth looking at their website. I used it for several trips in 2013 and 2014 and felt great and had no sleep problems (as I did this trip).

Then there was barely enough time to get to the Air France flight to Paris – immigration was slow as increased security meant slower queues. And now you have to give them all your fingerprints and one iris scan. However, once you have gone through immigration once on your ESTA, then it doesn’t take so long and there is a different queue – unfortunately I was on my new passport and hadn’t been into the US since I got it.

And then they wouldn’t take my suitcase at the luggage drop off point. I had to take my suitcase and find the Air France check-in counter on the next floor up and check it in again, get new baggage tags and get another boarding pass. At this point it was time for the flight to start boarding and I still had to go through the security part of check in. And of course I had to take my laptop out, my shoes off, drink my water, etc and all this while feeling really horrible (but luckily not sick).

I managed to get to the gate in enough time to be in time for my boarding – they board by rows and I was not impressed to find that my seat was in the very last row (first for boarding but last to get off) and they don’t go back very far! The only bonus was that I had no one behind me, no one across the aisle and I was close to the loo. But I won’t be flying Air France again.

There were only 2 hrs 15 mins allowed for, and although in theory the airlines would have to put me on the next flight, that would have meant I would have lost my train booking and one night of my B&B accommodation along with all the hassle of claiming against insurance later, and communicating with the B&B! Next time I come to Europe I will fly through Asia or just do Air New Zealand all the way to London – I could have spent the night in London and then got the Eurostar from London to Avignon.

However, once we were in the air I was sick again  and I was getting worried about becoming dehydrated so I called the steward. They found a doctor who prescribed me some lomotil (which worked) – they had it on board. Even if I had had some with me, I was too ill to have the energy to find it – so see the notes at the beginning.

I had 3 hours from the time the flight landed in Paris to the train leaving which was plenty of time – however, when you first arrive at the airport, you walk for miles, then get on a shuttle train, then walk a whole lot more to get to immigration, then you collect your bags as usual.

I got to the train station with an hour to spare and I was feeling slightly better by then. So I was able to change into my summer top and shoes – it was hot! The high speed train to Avignon was great – I had booked 1st class and I have never been so pleased to have done so. It took a bit over 3 hours. Something to note, in France on these high speed trains, the seat numbers are just above the single seats on the wall or between the double seats – it was not immediately obvious or intuitive! You find out what platform the train is leaving from 20 minutes before, then there is a mad rush for the platform.

When I arrived in Avignon I just got a taxi – at about 5 pm it was very hot (35 C +) and I definitely didn’t have the energy or inclination to try to travel on the cheap. And it was a very reasonable price to be dropped at the door when I didn’t have the first clue where I was going. It is all very well to have a map but I wouldn’t have found the B&B (Le Limas) on my own.

P1000017My room was on the first floor and had 3 windows – see the photo above.

P1000199
The room was lovely and just what I needed after the past 35-40 hours!  Marion showed me over the B&B, and where the terrace was where breakfast was held – she was so welcoming and friendly and even washed and dried some stuff (including my travel pillow!) for me.

That evening I went out and found a small cafe-bar and had a tartine. For some reason when I saw the list of ingredients I thought I was getting a salad …

P1000033

so I was slightly surprised when this pizza bread arrived – however, it was really yummy and just what I wanted. And it was only 8 Euro.

It wasn’t as big as the photo makes it look – it was about 100 x 150 mm (4 x 6 inches).

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Have a look at this link to the Google photos album, Avignon Day 1

More about Avignon in the previous post, and Day 2 is in the next post.

 

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