After our exquisite lunch experience, our Trafalgar Tours Travel Director, Jonathan, suggested that the best way to digest the food that we had just consumed would be to wander around and the best place to do it would be in Avignon. We began our Provencal journey in the village center at the Palais des Papes, or Pope’s Palace. It is one of the largest and most historical medieval Gothic buildings throughout all of Europe. Countless Popes over the centuries have called this magnificent place their home.
Depending on where you choose to marvel at this architectural wonder, it will change colors right in front of your eyes due to the sun’s reflection upon it. I wish that I would have had time to further explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, however the stores in the “City of the Popes” were sweetly calling out my name.
One of the things that sets Trafalgar Tours apart from its competitors is that even though it is a guided vacation and the Travel Directors are passionate about sharing their insider secrets, it still highly encourages its clients to make discoveries on their own during the trip. Thus, we all separated for a couple of hours. Before I got lost in some retail therapy, however, I wanted to see more of what the quaint cobble-stoned streets had to offer.
The main square in Avignon, which is lined with cafes, boutiques, galleries, and of course a carousel, is Place de l`Horloge. This is the throbbing heart of the city where business deals are done over glasses of champagne and young lovers steal kisses underneath the moonlight. This is a lifestyle I could easily get used to!
As I made my way back to the meeting spot, I caught sight of a couple of my colleagues refueling themselves at a bar and I had no choice but to join them. Once we were properly satiated, we then headed to dinner, which was again nothing short of amazing. “Life changing food” was quickly becoming the theme for the trip and I made peace with the fact that I would return to the United States five pounds heavier. Travel in France is guaranteed to make your stomach happy.
The final stop of the day was to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Mercure le Roi Rene, located right in the middle of Aix-en-Provence. Sleep came easily and so did dreams of the adventures we would be having the following day!