Monday 16th July to Friday 27th July
South of France
There are a number of reasons for this little trip – we would have loved to have done it aboard Shangri La, but the trip down the Rhone is not taken lightly, especially if you want to come back up again. Also, down south we are getting into salt water and steel boats and salt water do not go well together. We decided rather to leave the boat and visit a few towns in south of France using trains and AirBnB.
We left St Jean and took train, via Lyon, to Avignon. Avignon was a lovely place – a beautiful old walled city, but our timing was terrible. Unknown to us when we booked, there was a month-long theatre festival on the go, so the place was heaving with people. Also, they were building a new tram track and layout for the city centre, so the roads were in chaos! The weather was also hellish hot.
We walked the streets of the old town but most of the walls and buildings were festooned with advertising posters for the various theatrical offerings. Buskers and street artists abounded. We managed to find one vegan eaterie – Contine des Angines, where they served a very good vegan buffet lunch.
Wednesday – it was still hot and our accommodation was quite a walk out of town so we used Uber to get to the station where we took the train to Montpellier.
I don’t know why but I thought Montpellier was a relatively small place. Indeed not! In fact, it is about the 5th biggest city in France. Our accommodation was right in the centre, 10 mins walk from the station. We had this tiny apartment all to ourselves – on the third and top floor, with views across the rooftops. Montpellier also has the largest open public square in all France.
We did the walking tour, had a wine tasting on top of Montpellier’s own Arc de Triomf and found several vegan eateries.
Next, we took the train to Agde for a brief sun and beach break. Not really Karen’s favourite thing to do but I like to beach occasionally. The station at Agde is right at a three-way junction on the Canal du Midi with a three-level lock. Watched a whole lot of hire boats negotiating through.
Our last stop on this brief round trip was Marseille, which is a major commercial port. Our accommodation was right in the city centre, close to the old port and marina. Very busy and touristy.
We did the tourist things – took a boat ride, and the tram ride around the city which went via the highest point of the city where the Eglise Notre-Dame with it’s gold statue is situated. From here one gets a wonderful panoramic view of the area.
The steps leading up to the train station are aptly named ‘Grande Escaliere’! Not fun when you have suitcases.
The vegan eateries here were somewhat disappointing – the one was never open, and the other was very expensive for what turned out to be very ordinary food. But not all bad – a food truck at the market – La Marguerite – served excellent reasonably priced vegan fare.
From Marseille we took the train to Lyon and a flight back to UK.
And of course, for Karen’s take on our travels, go to her blog here