Sunday 24th was a long day for me and Syd. We drove about 750 kms to our 1st site near Lyon. We were only stopping 1 night so Dad didn't set up the awning. We had tea and then went to the bar. Syd and I were so excited to be out of the caravan we didn't stop talking again and soon had a large group of children assembled around us! While we were at the bar children kept coming up wanting to hold us but Adam kept saying that we were tired but after a while a sweet little dutch girl came and asked in Dutch, which we didn't understand so Adam suggested German which she didn't understand so then he suggested English and she spoke good English so Dad tried to put Sydney on her shoulder but Mum was worried so Dad let her hold me instead.
Monday morning was a late-ish get up and after breakfast we headed off on the last 3 hours of our journey to the South of France. By lunchtime we had driven 1025 kms and spent €80 in Motorwat tolls!!! We arrived at the site in Aix en Provence just after lunch. We unhitched the caravan and parked it and then Dad & Stacey went shopping for food while Mum and Adam put the awning up and got everything else set up. When Dad & Stacey got back we had some tea and then went for an explore around the site ending up in the bar, of course! We stayed there all evening until bedtime.
Tuesday 26th dawned hot and sunny. As we had had 3 days of travelling we drove the short distance to the Park & Ride for Aix. We paid €2 to park and all 4 adults got a ticket to use on any of the Aix buses for the whole day. We went into town, found the Tourist Information Office and got some info and a map of Aix. A friend of Adam's who had spent her year abroad in Aix suggested we took the Noddy Train trip which we did. It gave us a good overview and in the afternoon we re-visited some of the places when we had more time. Aix is twinned with Bath and is very similar, not only in size but of the stone it was constructed from and it even has a warm Spa like Bath.
Wednesday dawned with heavy Thunderstorms so we got up late and then went to Carrefour for some more shopping. Me and Syd stayed in our travel cage in the car. By the time they had finished it had stopped raining and turned very nice so we all went back to the Caravan for lunch. After lunch we went to Pertuis which was a town in the foothills of the mountains. It was an interesting town and we got a walk from the tourist information office and followed this for 45 minutes. On the way back we drove through Venelles and returned home.
Thursday 28th was the day Adam had arranged for his friend Harriott to show us around Marseille as she now lives there. We met Harriott at her flat in Estaque and walked down to a very pretty harbour with loads of yachts. It really is a lovely suburb of Marseille. Then we got the bus and tram into the City Centre and then caught another bus up to the Cathedral which is on top of a hill from which you can get lovely views all over Marseille. The Cathedral Bassilica is absolutely beautiful and then we walked around the outside admiring the views. Then we went back down to the centre where we found a bakery and bought some French Sandwiches for lunch which we had sat on the grass in a square by a fountain. After lunch we took another bus to a small seaside village/suburb called, Vallon des Auffes. This was a really pretty little fishing village that has been swallowed up by Marseille but the good thing was it hasn't been commercialised. We found a small bar by the harbour and enjoyed a drink in the sun (and shade). Then we went to catch a bus back into the centre. The first 2 didn't have any room but we eventually caught the third bus which took us all the way to the centre. Then we went to the old town but on the way stopped for ice creams! Now me and Sydney just love ice cream. We know it isn't very good for us but we just love it so much - especially Sydney!!! We haven#t had ice cream for ages so I was a bit slow to cotton on but Syd was straight in there!!! I think Dad would rather one of the others shared with me so he only had to share with one of us! After Ice Creams we went to the Old Town. It was a bit disappointing until we got to "Le Charitee" which was built hundreds of years ago to provide for the poor and homeless and has now been fully restored to a superb galleried building. Then we got the bus back to Estaque where Harriott went home and we found a restaurant on the sea front for Dinner. After Dinner we went back to Aix, very late and very tired but having had an absolutely brilliant day!!!
Friday was Peter Mayle Day. We went to Cadenet, Lourmarin, Vaugines and Menerbes. Now Cadenet is nothing to do with Peter Mayle other than it is a nice Provencal town/village. We had a walk around the town and we were in the main square when this lady called us over to a bar. We were a bit puzzled but then we heard her mention Peroquet D'Amazonica and thought she just recognised me and Syd. That was until Dad took us over.....and then we saw in a large open topped cage, a Mealy Amazon. Her husband was with the bird and he told me he was 22 years old (that's as old as Max - reeeeeeally old!!!). I made Ammazon noises at it and it back but it didn't speak (not that I would have understood as it would have spoken French!), so neither did I - well I didn't want to show off! Dad really liked the Amazon - said it reminded him of Ollie back at home. Then we went on to Lourmarin which was the second place in the Provence that Peter Mayle lived. It had a chateau but Dad decided €6 each was too much so we walked to the village and had a wander around and another coffee! It was actually a very nice village and totally uncommercialised. Then we went to Vaugine which is where Peter Mayle lives now. This was a sleepy little village with the one and only bar not opening until 17:00 so we sat in the shade and had our flasks of coffee. Finally we went to Menerbes which is where Peter Mayle wrote "A Year in Provence". The village has clearly gained immensely from the fame of Peter Mayle and the associated money! It had all new paving;l the shops were like Parisian Boutiques and bars were very few and far between. We did eventually find one with a lovely terrace overlooking some stunning scenery and a Burman Cat - a bit like Boots and, like Boots, he was afraid of us! We had a wonderful day visiting typical Provencal towns and villages but Menerbes was very disappointing, sio Dad said.
Saturday 30th we went to pick up Harriot and Hannah at Estaquwe. We then went along the coast to the West of Marseille visiting places like Carry le Rouet (for coffee) and Sausset les Pins where we had lunch. Then we went along to the Parc Nationelle de Camargue which is a marshland famous for unforgiving Mosquitoes so we stayed in the car. While in the Parc we went to L'Etang de Baccares where we saw wild Flamingoes. The Flamingoes weren't pink like in zoos - more a grey colour but everyone enjoyed seeing them and we all even got out of the car and risked the mosquitoes. Then we went back across the Car Ferry (which, beleive it or not is French for Car Ferry!!!), to Istres where we stopped for coffee (or Beer!) and Dad decided he would like to come back here.
Well we came back after another great day ouit and this ends week 1. Watch out for week 2 soon!!!