A week in the south of France, all the way there from Dundee by train (OK I stopped in London for 2 nights each way)....from the grey, damp summer in Scotland to the beautiful bright blue skies and warming sun of Provence.
My friend Karen and I rented a house in Arles. It was a beautiful house, just newly renovated, impeccably decorated and right in the centre of town, just 50m from the Roman arena.
Arles was a great base to explore Provence, although to do justice to the area you'd probably need to spend months rather than a week. We spent a couple of days just relaxing in Arles, wandering the town, visiting Roman remains, eating ice cream, sitting on the roof terrace listening to the crowds in the arena...
We took the train to Avignon one day - to visit the Papal Palace (I didn't know that from 1309 to 1376 the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built over a period of 20 years, this immense palace dominates the Avignon landscape. We also saw the half bridge made famous in the song Sur le pont d'Avignon.
We hired a car for 3 days which definitely makes it easier to see Provence. We took a tour to the Camargue to see flamingoes, to St Remy de Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last years, to Pont du Gard to see the Roman aqueduct, to Gordes high on the rocks of the Luberon, to Uzes in Languedoc - a beautiful town of outdoor cafes, alleys lined with renovated buildings, cute little shops - a great place to spend time. We ate ice cream made with violets and sea salted caramel, had tapas in a cute little restaurant called La Querida in Arles.... I got to swim in the sea at Saintes Maries de la Mer and in the river at Pont du Gard, fulfilling my need to swim outdoors at least once a year! All in all a fantastic week!