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Monday, May 5, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ Day 1 We're Taking the Train

I am calling on my inner Sheldon Cooper.

I love trains.  There is something very basic about a train ride.  This train, however, is not so very basic

It is the Euro Star.


I am off on another round of walking vacation.  A three week leave from work, a sabbatical given for my 8 year milestone.  Originally I pondered a volunteer vacation in Africa.  That journey would have required a total of six weeks and for me, I thought that was pushing it a bit too much.  That adventure goes into my "possible" 16 year leave.  I picked up and put down the idea of a volunteer vacation in Mongolia, planting trees.  I will leave sleeping in a yurt in the possibly merry month of May to the younger crowd.

Today I took the train from London St Pancras station to Paris in 2 1/2 hours.  A quick cross town transfer to Gare de Leon and in another 2 1/2 hours via the TVG High Speed Train, we are in Avignon the starting and finishing point of a one week walk in Provence.  Over the next week I am exploring the Luberon.

The trains are amazing in their speed, averaging 186mph.  They are smooth and almost silent.  In no time at all we are in the Chunnel and out the other side.  All along the way green and yellow fields of hay, rapeseed (canola) or mustard.

And tons of bugs.  The front of the train was COVERED in bugs.

Last year my walk across England was, in part, driven by the desire to see the countryside I first saw in "All Creatures Great and Small"  This time, part of my desire to visit The Luberon was sparked by two of my favorite movies; "My Fathers Glory" and "My Mothers Castle".  These are gentle movies based on Marcel Pagnols memoirs of the same name.

Provence is sliced through the middle west to east by The Petit and Grand Luberon.  This escarpment contains cliffs and forests, ocher mines and a narrow slot canyon we visit in 2 days.

Paris Gare deLyon was a noisy and crowded wait.  I did not wish to cut it to close and the 2 1/2 hour wait was a bit too long.  But so it was dash for the train and off we raced.  Into a tunnel and Bang! We were in verdant countryside.  You would not know a city like Paris was just left.  We raced down the heart of France seeing few towns.  Nothing but agriculture and cows.

I could see the Alps to the east and about 45 minutes before arrival the landscape abruptly changed to dry rocky soil.  The huge rock faced cliffs of the Luberon can be seen.  Some look like massive rock souffles.

A quick twistly neighborhood bus ride and I am dropped off at the city wall.

Avignon is a old walled city on the west end of Provence.  During the 1300's seven Popes made this city their home and center of the church.  Today the walled old city and the Palais des Papes are an UNESCO World Heritage site


My hotel Hotel d'Angleterre in on a quiet backstreet near the city wall and a convenient walk from the shuttle bus stop.


I have a comfortable room and a new book from the local service detailing all my walks, my transfer and details I have to look over at dinner.

It is Monday and most of the neighborhood restaurants are closed.  I canceled the walk I had planned and went looking for one of the recommended places.  It was closed and I wound up at a place near the hotel that had terrific seafood.

Tomorrow is a full day in town.


  1. I hope you have a wonderful time and will look forward to reading about it.

  2. Oh I bet that train ride was great!
    I remember learning about Avignon and being 'home' to a number of popes.