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Backpacking France & Spain: Day 4 (09-Dec-2017)

Les Plats Provençals

I woke up really early. Probably it was the jet lag. Instead of going back to bed, I got ready and decided to go on a early morning walk. It was a bit cold outside. I walked towards old town. At the place next to the Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral, a market was being set. Farmers were arranging their products. It was still dark, so I decided to walk into a café/Bar and have some much needed tea and croissant. The cafés are small and also serve alcohols in the evenings. The cramped little place was already crowded; a few men were chatting there and a few sat silently reading newspaper. It is interesting to notice that most of them were dressed in blazers and winter coats, even if they had stopped by to drink coffee. There were two young men who were drunk and kept speaking loudly and cracking jokes. One of them began snoring right there. Everybody watched them and smiled. He was then asked to sleep outside. I sat there and recorded the previous day’s events in my journal. 

I took a walk along the market. There were stalls of all kinds. Some sold vegetables and fruits, some cheese or meat, others cooked delicious food and rest sold artefacts. All together it was a lively atmosphere out there.

I headed back to the hotel and completed the sketch that I had began sketching the previous evening.

At 10:30 AM, I checked out and crossed the street to reach the railway station. I took the super fast TGV train to Avignon. It was amazing to ride in the high speed train that had minimal vibration. The train glided past the countryside.

Avignon is a commune about 120kms south of Valence. Just as I walked out of the train station, the fort walls welcomed me into the town.

My SFR sim card worked intermittently. When ever I switched to flight mode and back, it seemed to work for a while. My friend had suggested me to by Free SIM card but I had not found that in Lyon airport. I would advice you to not buy SFR. Anyways, I walked to my hostel (POP Hostel) which is on the main street, in a beautiful gothic styled building. The view from the third floor is amazing.

I left my bags at the reception and stepped out for lunch. I had seen this restaurant called Maison Nani on my way to the hostel and decided to go there. Even though I had no reservation, the servers were kind enough to find a place for me. I had only one vegetarian option in the menu - Assiette Végétarienne (Vegetarian dish provencal) that consisted of St Marcellin cheese roasted with honey, baked eggplant stuffed with vegetables, croquettes made of cauliflower and Quinoa salad. I tried some cider for drink. The food was extremely tasty.

After lunch, I marched towards Palais des papes, which is situated at the end of the main street in the town  It was here that the popes administered from in the 14th century. It is made of two Medieval gothic buildings and the prayer halls and other rooms are gigantic in size. I bought a ticket and took an audio guided tour. There were some art works in display as well. It is interesting to see how these ancient buildings also display some exhibits by famous artists. I shall let the pictures speak for themselves. Some old murals still remain and are well preserved.

I also walked to the Pont Saint-Bénézet. Its a medieval bridge built across river Rhône but only four arches remain as of today.

At the entrance of the Palais, the Christmas stalls were set. There were various shows put up for the families like a falcon and eagle show and a fencing by kids. All together it was a festive atmosphere like in all other cities that I had visited so far.

I tasted some delicious crêpes with caramel. Crêpes are pancakes served with plain sugar, Nutella or jams.

It was interesting to walk on the well lit streets filled with local musicians singing on the streets and kids enjoying the merry-go-round rides.

For dinner, I tried another restaurant at town centre - La Grille. I went with their formule and they had some interesting vegetarian options. However, since I eat egg an omelet for main course was the only option I could pick apart from the italian Ravioli. For starter, I had Terrine de courgettes (Zucchini) and Omellete Provençal for main course. Crème brûlée for dessert was yummy.

I returned back to the hostel and having nothing much to do, decided to retire for the day. The hostel scene in France does not seem to be very lively. I am not sure if it is because this is off season but there were fewer people and they kept to themselves. 

Continued Here 


  1. Such splendid pictures and a beautiful account. Especially loved the first picture of the vegetables and fruits


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