After our first stop along the coast, we asked the kids what they thought about the drive so far. The 8-year old's response "It's pretty, but it's similar to the Amalfi Coast." Excuse me, little world traveler! Some people live their whole lives wanting to see these places and here you are (almost) taking it for granted. Yikes! We were back in the car and on our way to Monaco. This tiny country was just AMAZING! We had fun from the moment we drove across the border and loved seeing all the fancy cars.
Then it was off to the west in search of some lavender fields. We thought it would be easy, we were in Provence, all the pictures show lavender growing along the road. Silly us, we actually had to do some more research to just drive past the fields. Where we stopped was simply amazing. The 12th century Senanque Abbey was so beautiful both for the lavender fields and for the abbey itself. Not quite fully in bloom, the lavender plants were very fragrant, watching the butterflies hop from plant to plant was really relaxing. The smell was calming (sorry, had to say it) and the tour book we bought still smells.
We didn't realize until we got to Avignon that that weekend started their annual theater festival. So this active, college town, was even more alive. It was fun to walk among some actors and see them do little scenes from their plays in the streets. The other main attraction is the Palais des Papes (Popes Palace), that was built in the 14th century. Between all the halls, chapels, corridors and staircases we discovered that this was the capital of Christendom between 1305 and 1403. Not to go into too much history, 7 popes and 2 antipopes held office here.
Then it was time to be bid adieu to France and head back to Italy. We took the long was back and drove along the Cote d'Azur more, from Saint Tropez into Cannes. The beaches were beautiful (and free), everyone seemed to be having a good time and we really thought about booking another holiday to just spend time on the water. It's hard to believe that we live 5 minutes from the beach, because of pollution, trash, and price we don't go. So not what a family from Southern California is used to. All part of learning and helping us value what we have.
This was a quick and busy trip to the South of France, one that was filled with wonderful sights, sounds, smells, and food. We hope to go back... the bucket list keeps growing. Until next time... it might be a while, a big adventure is coming up and we have to prepare ourselves. Maybe some local travel is in order.