At last an opportunity to explore the Provence. We’re keen to get to the coast but we want to visit a few spots at least. A quick search on the internet, and a request for tips on facebook soon leads to a long list of possible places to visit. They all look really good, and we pick a few to visit.
First up is Gordes, one of France’s most beautiful villages. It’s on a hill top with stunning views across the valley below. It’s a lovely typical French village with narrow, winding lanes up and down the hill. It’s a busy town with tourists, even at this time of year. There are two carparks in the village, where you can stop with a motorhome (one has services but is very sloping). We park while we explore the village and enjoy the views.
The Village des Bories is a tourist attraction about 3 miles away. We decide to explore that too, and we take Rex to the free aire (no services) near there. The Village des Bories is an old farmers settlement, used seasonally by workers. There are a number of these places left around the world, like the Fahan beehive huts in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland. The Village des Bories has been restored and is now open as an open air museum.
That evening, the rain starts… One of our readers has suggested a film to watch; A Good Year with Russell Crowe, which is filmed in the area where we are staying. We find it online and decide to watch it to see the region without having to go out in the rain. Thoroughly enjoyed it, so thank you for the tip!
The next day we decide to travel further south along a route with some more pretty villages like Lourmarin, where we briefly stop for a wander and some lunch, before travelling on to Marseille.
It’s quite a long drive to Marseille but at least we’ve found an aire from which to explore Marseille. As we near the city, our satnav showing the way, we come upon some roadworks… This is the start of a whole different kind of adventure, trying to navigate the centre of Marseille with its low tunnels and bridges (too low for our Rex) with all the hectic city centre traffic, going round in circles trying to find this aire… Eventually we get, having driven through some very (too) narrow lanes and making some awkward manouvres.
As we arrive, all we need is a glass of wine. All plans of seeing Marseille are abandoned. The aire is a strange kind of campsite for motorhomes. It looks like some areas are reserved for people who perhaps live there longer term, with some spaces for travellers passing through.
So we miss out on Vieux Marseille unfortunately, but the next day we repeat the stressful journey out of the city. Luckily we end up behind a Heineken truck which we decide to follow as it’s also too high and too wide. So the Heineken truck guides us out of the city in one piece, miraculously, and we continue on towards Toulon.
We find an aire across the water from Toulon and plan to go in by ferry. Our friend’s sister lives in Toulon and we hope to meet up, but as we arrive the heavens open and unrelenting, torrential rain soaks everything, including our plans. A quick check of the weather forecast reveals we’re in the centre of an area under Amber weather warning that is due to continue for days, so we decide to leave the next day to find a bit of sunshine.
So there’re more unfinished business in the Provence with Marseille, Toulon and various villages needing a visit. This also means the end of our journey along the south coast of France on this trip, as we decide to find the weather on the west coast instead.
We start the long drive back and decide to find a vineyard to stay at in the Côte du Rhône region. This leads us to Les Vignerons du Castelas in Rochefort-du-Gard, where we enjoy some lovely wine tasting and we stock up on some more wine to bring back with us. In the evening, the sun gingerly peaks out, with a promise of better weather to come.