Day 18- Journey to the French Riviera
We have been very lucky this summer on our holiday. Although it has been very hot, we have only experienced 20 minutes of rain on the entire trip.
This morning we visited St. Benezet Bridge (Pont St. Benezet). It is the bridge in the song you may have sung in primary school "Point d' Avignon" and the song is played on the audio tour, on CD's, and in music boxes. It was built between 1171-1185 and was the only bridge crossing the Rhone River. Over the years since the 1600s it has collapsed arch by arch due to flooding, but the part that remains stretching halfway across the river is fun to visit. It's a peaceful place with the river gently flowing underneath and a small boat ferrying people back and forth across the river to a picnic area. Through technology, historians are in the process of making a 3D virtual tour to experience the part of the bridge that is missing.
Last night we stayed a second night at the centrally located Mercure Hotel. When I was in Lisbon I injured my ankle stepping out of the hotel's stone entrance. Staying at the Mercure made sense because our original accommodation that had locked us out the night before was 10 minutes away from the main sights. The original hotel was not too pleased with this decision, but they never apologized for locking us out and charged us anyway for the room.
In the afternoon we took the TGV to Nice. The high speed train is beautiful, but for some odd reason they booked my seat on the opposite side from David. Halfway into our journey our empty car turned into a tween hangout for a group of 7 girls who played a cat and mouse game with the conductor in the first class car. When she appeared, they took off and then reappeared repeatedly having a mini party with chips and soda in our seating area when the rest of the car was empty. I found the whole thing annoying, but interesting too because they chattered nonstop in French and then said a sentence or two in English without missing a beat. The ride was beautiful though. Beautiful farms with stone houses and tile roofs surrounded by vineyards and cypress trees are just around every bend. As we approached the coast, sailboats bobbed up and down in the harbors and colorful umbrellas lined the beaches.
Upon our arrival in Villafranche we couldn't find a taxi so an organic farmer we met at the station who has lived his whole life here, but studied in California, had us squeeze into his van for a ride. Our accommodation, Hotel Darse, is right on the harbor and is costing us only $125 with a balcony and sea view. After dinner we walked along the promenade to the small town where people were having candlelight dinners at small cafes and just took in the ambiance of this place.