Sunday, our last day in Paris, started with mass at St. Augustin. We went to the children’s mass in the “Basse” or basement. Very French…didn’t understand much, but always knew where we were in the service. Mass was followed by brunch at the Café Roussillot where Kathy and Chip had some of the best pasta (ravioli) in cream sauce ever. That afternoon, we tried to see the Tuilerie Gardens, the Louvre (from the outside) and the Musee D’Orsay. We spent most of our day at the Orsay, admiring the impressionist art and mix of architecture. Our favorite painting was a Van Gogh that none of us had seen before. Sorry, no picture of it. A quick pick-me-up at the Café L’Alma (the official bar of the Bulgarian Embassy) preceded our most “touristy” thing yet: A sunset cruise on the Seine in a Bateau-Mouche. Dinner was déjà vu for Kathy when, while looking for a sports bar called Thoumieux, we happened on Le Petit Nicois, a delightful Parisian restaurant where Kathy and her parents (that’s Wayne Harsh for you library types) ate during their 1998 European tour. Chip had the mussels and the wine was a gold medal award winner from the Paris festival of 2003. We enjoyed an outstanding meal in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower which was surpassed only by the remarkable spontaneous return to Le Petit Nicois. Late night packing kept us from completing this blog entry in preparation for early Monday check out and the TGV trip to Avignon.
Imagine the fastest train you’ve ever been on in the USA. Now triple or quadruple that speed, and you might approach the speed of the TGV. It’s France’s answer to the Japanese Bullet Train, and it does a maximum of 220mph. We traveled from Paris to Avignon in 2 hours and 45 minutes…a 500+ mile trip. We had a rental car waiting, and toured the city after picking up a VW Passat. All six bags fit the trunk without a problem. All four of us comfortably in the car. We walked the hilly fortress streets of the old city. One by one, we each tripped and (nearly) fell on the ancient cobblestones…all except Trish. (This is called foreshadowing, for you literary types.) We toured the Musee du Petite Palais, which had an incredible collection of paintings from 1300 to 1500, including one original Sandro Botticelli. Most were religious themes from churches and chapels of the period.
The car trip to Arles was exciting but relatively uneventful. The French are definitely interested in fast driving. With Bill as the navigator, Chip driving, we successfully negotiated many roundabouts. However, nothing prepared us for the hills of Arles or the location of our hotel on the narrowest, busiest street in the city. Unloading the luggage was miraculous; parking was a nightmare. Once settled in, we made our plans for the evening, with Trish flitting from room to room. (Jonas’s are separated from us by three steps and a landing.) One thing about this hotel: They have timed lights that go off automatically. This renders the space between our rooms nearly lightless. OK, here’s the part where Trish slips and falls, spraining her ankle. So much for the dinner plans and possibly some of the touring tomorrow! We ate in: Cheese, wine, beer, quiche, and bread…and caught up on our blogging. Adieu!