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Backpacking France & Spain: Day 3 (08-Dec-2017)
I woke up pretty early and got ready to leave. It was time to say good bye to Lyon. At the reception, the breakfast was being set. Fresh croissant and baguettes were brought in.
I left Lyon wet and still drizzling. Though the bus station was about 2kms from my hostel, I chose to walk. It was still dark outside. People covered in long winter coats and boots walked along the pavements towards their work. I had managed to find a cheap bus ticket for 4 Euros to Valence which is a small town, about 100kms from Lyon. I was advised by my friend that buses are always cheaper than trains.
I was at Valence in 1.5 hours. Along the way, the landscape was picturesque. Dry fields spread on both sides of the road seemed to end at small villages with houses built of stones. Everything seemed neat and well arranged.
My hotel in Valence (Hôtel de Lyon) was very close to the train station. The moment I got down the bus at Valence, I could feel this nice and friendly small town vibe in the atmosphere. I left my bags at the hotel, grabbed a tourist map and walked to explore the town.
The town was preparing itself for Christmas. Small mobile wooden shops were placed at the town centre. These shops sold various items, from art work to cheese and other food items.
The façades and windows of old buildings gave this town a very Medieval feel.
Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral which is a Romanesque cathedral is an impressive structure at the old town. I was the alone there. This town had absolutely no tourists/travelers except for me and that made me feel good.
Just outside the cathedral is the Pendentif, a building of renaissance inspiration perhaps built around 1548.
Walking along the narrow streets of Vieux Valence with its ancient buildings was like a journey back in time. I let myself get lost in those streets and marched without any particular destination in mind.
I had my lunch at a small Boulangerie - Sandwich with grilled vegetables and Cannelé de Bordeaux (a chewy cake). It was a nice experience sitting there and observing old women walk in and while buying bread, chat a little with the shop keeper.
After walking around the old town for a while, I chose to sit in a small café and sketch my impressionist inspired work representing the fête de la lumière that I had witnessed the previous day in Lyon. France had already begun to inspire the artist in me. I asked the lady at the café if she could suggest me something that is a specialty of Valence and she suggest I try Suisse- a type of biscuit. So, I sat there sketching for a long time and that for me was more relaxing and enjoyable than just rushing from one tourist attraction to another. At the café, I also observed the locals walk in for coffee and some snacks. While I was leaving, the server ensured to wish me a proper good bye.
At night, the town that was well lit, seemed even more prettier. Families gathered along the town center to try the rides arranged for children and to explore the shops that sold varied products. What I liked the most about this place was that it had almost no other tourists or travellers. Hence, everything seemed pretty normal; as it happens everyday in a small town. As a traveler, I long for such observations and details.