Traveling Solo | Burgundy & Provence | Avignon to Lyon

Welcome!  Join our journey to postcard-perfect destinations. 

All blog posts are based on our personal travels around Europe, penned by J. Christina.

Subscribe to receive the latest blog post  

Travel dates: July 26- August 8, 2022

Train from Lyon to Avignon July 26.

Travel is like many other things in life – we get what we put into it. So much of the pleasure of travel is the dreamy anticipation: plotting the route, learning the history and culture, imagining the sights, and stumbling upon new discoveries. But what about travel life after a global pandemic?

Our world was shut down for 2.5 years, when a mysterious global coronavirus altered our lives in ways we never imagined. Our personal and travel lives abruptly retooled, realigned, and were put on hold indefinitely. For months we could only connect with friends and business associates over Zoom, WhatsApp, and Facetime; and certainly, travel was restricted, and international borders were closed.  Our life was reimagined into something we didn’t choose. There was plenty of angst; the who, what, when, and where with the pandemic crisis looming for months and thought years to come.

The countdown app on my iPhone reads 883 days since my last international travel adventure.  Today in 2022, things are looking brighter and hopeful, and the anticipation of travel has returned to this solo traveler, and she is off to revisit the south of France. Where I will travel by plane, train, or foot, and eventually join a European River Cruise on the Rhône River.

As borders reopen and the method we exchange travel documents, check-in at airports, and border control has been changed forever; packing one’s patience is essential. Forging ahead into this journey is exciting once again. Travel lifestyles are changing, and we will adapt.

My travel adventure begins by arriving in Lyon, France, where I board the TGV inOui going south to Avignon. It has been thirteen years since I’ve been in the South of France, so renewing my memories and solo travel is top of mind. The train makes three station stops en route; Valence considered the gateway to the South of France and the capital of Drome in the Rhone valley, and Montélimar, where Chateau des Adhemar reigns over the city, and the third station stop at Orange, where it is famous for its Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.

It's a pleasant ride with all the amenities one would need for a 90-minute train ride, a first-class assigned seat, free Wi-Fi, charging plugs, electrical outlets at each seat, and a window view into the French countryside.            

Opéra Théâtre d'Avignon     
This image and many others are my portfolio tab.

En route, the landscape is dry, crisp, and parched; sunflowers hang their droopy heads nearly to the ground, and the once golden wheat fields are now faded and harvested into large bales of brittle straw. Farmers on tractors toil in the distance leaving behind clouds of dust.  There's new development in the distance, new home construction, solar panels, greenhouses, and wind turbines scattered across the thirsty landscape, even a chateau in the faraway.

I arrive at Avignon Centre amid the country’s fourth heat wave deemed the worst drought on record. Most days the temperatures reach 103-110° with wildfires looming in the south of France, burning coveted olive trees and forests. French farmers are experiencing a dramatic decline in the production of soy, sunflowers, and corn yields; and three times less lavender oil will be extracted from this year’s harvest due to the extreme, prolonged drought. It takes 150 kilograms of flowers for one liter of lavender oil and many essential oil farmers are forgoing the labor-intensive oil extraction and selling varieties of dried sachet and bundles of lavender as an alternative. The brunt of this drought has dramatically altered the production of French products we love so much, milk, cheese, wine and olives.

This drought has caused European countries to restrict water usage where watering is only allowed for vegetables and fruits. Shipping is currently endangered on the Rhine, Germany’s biggest waterway, as well as the Danube and Po rivers. Some cargo loads are only one-fifth the amount, due to the shallow water levels. Luckily, in a few days I will sail on the Rhône River where the water level is adequate.

My accommodations are at Le Limas for the next few nights, inside the ramparts of Avignon; where the proprietor has arranged a taxi to meet me at the station. My Oui driver weaves his way through the historical streets filled with day trippers, tourists, and theater performers from the month-long Theatre Festival, one of the biggest in the world.

After settling in I have a quiet evening and dinner with Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, editor of Perfectly Provence   at the lovely Restaurant Le Violette.  She and her husband are part-time residents in the South of France and by happenstance, our schedules coincide. Perfectly Provence is a food, travel, and lifestyle magazine for the South of France and the French Riviera. There are many writers for this online in-depth resource, and I’ve had the privilege to be a contributor. We share an evening of conversation, travel adventures, good food, laughter, and refreshing Alpilles rosé.

Continue this journey by subscribing to www.scribblesandsmiles.net or follow on Instagram and Facebook. Join me in discovering two of the most beautiful villages of France: Gordes, Les Baux de Provence.  And the quaint villages of L' Isle sur la Sorgue, and Saint Rèmy de Provence before boarding a European River Cruise. Where I will sail on the Rhône and Saône rivers through Burgundy & Provence, once again.

Please leave a comment below.

J.Christina is the author and owner of Scribbles and Smiles. Through our blog, we share stories of the wonderful discoveries we have made on our European travels. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on board with their travel jaunts around the world sharing in their blogging endeavor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina. (Mr. Christie wasn't able to join in on this adventure to the South of France, 2022).

After many years of intrepid travel, we thoughtfully unwrapped our treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through our words and images, so others can travel vicariously. 

1 comment:

Ashlee Brasher said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and I’m so happy you’re traveling again!