May 20 - Avignon to Vaison-la-Romaine
There was no pressure to get up this morning. Our next deadline was at 3:00 when we needed to leave for the TGV station to meet our BAC tour. After breakfast, we checked out of our room at Hotel de L'Horloge , left our luggage at the hotel and went exploring. Our first stop was at Musee Calvert. We were given audio guides as part of our entry fee. The guide led us into a section of Northern Masters - paintings by Flemish, Dutch and German artists in the 15th century and later. I have seen enough of this style in the many museums we have previously visited, so I was disappointed. Then we entered a section of French impressionists. It was an excellent collection of Paris painters in the late 19th through the mid-20th century. I really enjoyed this exhibit, especially when I could sit on a stuffed chair and peruse the paintings. I even might have nodded off.
When our museum tour was finished, it was time for lunch. We tried to eat at a recommended restaurant close to the museum, but it was sold out. We walked a short distance to E. A. T. - Estaminet, Arômes et Tentations. The temperature was a little cool so we wanted to eat inside. No luck. We sat at a table outside on a very quiet street. The sun was out, so it slowly warmed up and was comfortable. Our food was wonderful. Ann had chicken breast with couscous. I had grilled pork with quinoa mixed with fresh vegetables. Our sauces were very good. For dessert, I had chocolate fondant while Ann had cheesecake. While eating our meal, Ken and Mary Hernandez and Tom and Eileen Vergino, from our bicycle tour and Bay Area residents walked by and chatted for a few minutes.
After lunch we went back to our hotel for downtime. Because we had checked out of our room, we sat on the first floor (second floor to us Americans) in the library and read our email and books. Then we gathered our luggage and took a taxi to the TGV station to meet our tour. Gail Blanco and Alberto Lanzas were there with their BAC signs so we had no trouble finding our group. A good percentage of our group is from the Bay Area and members of Valley Spokesmen. After several weeks in Spain and France, it was nice to see some familiar faces.
We loaded our bus and were on the road to Vaison la Romaine right on time at 4:00. Heavy traffic and a detour caused us to be a bit late arriving in Vaison. Syd Smoot and Ken Keeler, our ride directors, were so organized that the late arrival caused no problems. The people that rented bicycles were fitted and the people that brought their bicycles assembled them in short order.
Hostellerie le Beffroi is in the midieval city. It is old. 1500s old. But it has been updated with modern ammenities. The rooms have high ceilings with oak beams. The floors are tiled. The walls have elegant wallpaper. The furniture is antique. Our room faced the very narrow street that has almost no traffic. A bubbling fountain across the street was good white noise. The stone steps on the circular satircase leading to our floor were worn down from age and are alarminly irregular.
Our Happy Hour and dinner at the hotel were on time. We sat at a dinner table with Gail and Alberto along with Sandy Owen and Mike Tiller from Bloomington, Indiana. We had a good dinner conversation but some of it was lost in the loud noise of 40 people talking in a small room.