Having spent a few days with the rental car, I was happy to see it returned without issue.
We had not rented a car in France before, so we were mentally preparing ourselves for all manner of possible problems, paperwork, or hidden extra fees.
As I drove back towards Avignon‘s expansive TGV train station we needed to top up the fuel. Failing to do so would incur the penalty fuel rates of the car hire company. We asked the navigation box to direct us to a fuel station that sold diesel.
We had done our preparation, we had confirmed the car was diesel and double checked with the car hire staff to look out for diesel pumps; all in French.
When I pulled up to the pumps though we could not find diesel. One was diesel but which one. In France, or at least in this region or in this fuel station, they had trade names for the different fuel types.
Our choices were:
super sans plomb 98 (super without lead 98)
Our choice of pumps at the fuel station
Gazole seemed the most likely but making a mistake could ruin the car’s engine. The fuel station was empty when we arrived. I backed out and we chatted over our next steps.
Then another car pulled in. Megan took her chance, hopped out, and approached the other car on foot. She chatted with the friendly driver for a while. Walked back smiling, Megan reported “gazole” is definitely diesel.
We pulled up at a pump and filled up the car.
I was relieved to reach the arching train station and have half an hour to wander around before our train back to Lyon.
We stopped at Céreste during the late afternoon and had an ice-cream. Céreste was one of the larger villages we stopped at during the day and we wandered around for a while. The commune had a larger number of modern homes and felt more alive than Villars or Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt.
Our energy was flagging by the time we reached this commune. The heat of the day beat down fiercely and after our ice-cream fulled stroll we decided to head back to Apt for the evening.
It was hot, arid, and entirely lived up to the expectations of a French village in southern France. Of thesmallcommunes we visited, Villars is the one I most fondly remember.
Villars in Luberon felt to be the smallest of the communes we visited during our scenic tour. The road leading up to the hilltop village is beautiful. The road is lined with regularly spaced trees and the approach through the mottled shade is idyllic.
A bus stop sits at the bottom of the approaching road. We stopped on our way down and studied the timetable. I wonder how connected or not residents of this small village feel.
Having escaped Roussillon we headed towards Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt. This smaller village was quiet and peaceful in comparison to the tourist hub of Roussillon.
Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt surprised and delighted me in equal measure. I expected only a village or small town but instead we found ourselves walking up to a robbed out chateau and impressive dam.
Central square and fountain
Looking up into a cloudless sky
Narrow streets and sun influenced architecture
Church in Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt
Beautifully maintained roundabout in the commune
Path leading to a once grand chateau
Bell tower of the church
View across and beyond Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt
Dam built from stone robbed out from the chateau
Street in Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt
Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt contained a windmill that was surprisingly difficult to see from within the commune itself. I managed to take a photo of the blades but not much else. Something best seen from the approach to the village.
Roussillon is a hill top village in Southern France. Well known for its red ochre rock formations, the area attracts tourists in droves during the hot summer months.
The tiny village was horrible to drive through. Approaching on foot was not an option. The narrow roads and tourists wandering around the car made our arrival in the beautiful village a touch frantic at times. Just parking the car was a great relief.
Roussillon is pretty and does a good job of marketing itself but other villages in the area were just as enjoyable and less trafficked.
We took the scenic route after leaving the Pont du Gard. The car’s built in navigation directed us along questionably narrow roads but rewarded us with fantastic views and stopping points as we idled along.
One highlight our guests had requested was to see lavender fields. We had previously researched the most likely locations but nevertheless were delighted when our research paid off.
Rows of lavender
Detail of lavender
During our travels we stopped alongside fields of cherries, lavender, and sunflowers.
Another festival of lights is over. We braved the cold and went out each evening to see a few exhibits in bite sized chunks. Unlike last year, our first festival, we did not try to see everything.
I took photos but point and shoot camera can not capture the spectacle well. I used two cameras this year. A sadly malfunctioning Sony HX20V and my robust but ageing Canon SX200IS. Neither excelled in the dim light.
I have found when the photos fail to delight, switch to capturing video. The video tends to provide a better feel for the event. The sound, however poor quality, adds an extra dimension and helps fill in the detail missing in the image.
Below are a few photos and the short film I put together.
We rented a car in Avignon and drove out to see the Pont du Gard. This is a large Roman aqueduct spanning a valley to the west of Avignon. The aqueduct has been well maintained and repaired. The mix of old and new stone is clear to the casual observer.
To see the Pont du Gard an entrance fee is charged. For that fee you get parking, facilities, access to a museum and walking trails within a park.
As we approached the conversation in the car turned to what we were about to see. The ticket price elicited a “it’s just a bridge!” at which moment the Pont du Gard’s marketing slogan of “more than a bridge!” made sense.
We came away having had a good day but it really was just the bridge we wanted to see.
Three tiers of the aqueduct
Looking across the valley
The impressively maintained Pont du Gard
River below the Pont du Gard
Young man jumping into the water below
Water channel on the top tier
Tunnel carved through rock
Lower part of the aqueduct leading to the Pont du Gard