So after such a delightful day and night on the 5th, we woke up and got ourselves some croissants (again!) and started packing. We were headed to Provence for 3 nights and would be returning to Paris. However, we didn’t return to this same apartment in the 16th but instead rented another apartment through centerparis, which is more centrally located.
So about 1 month before the trip, I had ordered the TGV tickets online and since delivery was free, I opted for mail delivery service. But even on the day we departed from Singapore, there was still no sight of the TGV tickets. Luckily I had responses from the email sent to the TGV people and they said I could collect the tickets from the manned booths at the stations. So that’s what we planned to do. We had decided to be at the station 90 minutes before our train was to depart, as I had read that the lines would be long.
So we took a taxi to Gare de Lyon as that was where our train would depart from. Our host had kindly showed us the taxi rank from which we could get a cab from. The taxi fare cost us about less than 20 euros, with an additional euro from the luggages.
Gare de Lyon wasn’t too crowd from where we just entered. We headed to an information booth and asked where we could get our tickets and went towards the direction pointed to us. And it became obvious as to where to get our tickets from; inside this big office where there were 2 lines, one on each side of the door. There must be at least 15-20 people in each queue. Since there were two of us, we split up and went into different queues. The queue I was in was at least moving while the one my husband was in was stagnant. And time was ticking. Gee, the queues in France moved so very s.l.o.w.l.y. To make things worse, some of the booths started to close as the staff had to go for lunch. And the line just kinda moved like 1cm/ 5 mins. 😥 😥 😥
I was getting very anxious then because time to departure of the train crept ever closer! Finally with 10 mins before the departure of the train, I was next in line. I went to the counter with this black French lady behind the counter and I showed her my confirmation slip and said we have to get our tickets. And she said ‘I don’t speak English’! Ok, so i tried to just show her the confirmation ticket and said collect tickets. She said ‘No, I don’t speak English.’ And refused to have anything to do with me! Well, she might not speak english but her sentence of ‘I don’t speak English’ is as perfect as any English I have heard! 😯
So I had no choice but to let the guy behind me go to that counter and luckily, the customer at the next counter left and I quickly went to that counter. We had about 8 mins to go. First and foremost, I asked ‘Do you speak English’? And that so very nice lady gave me a sympathetic smile and said ‘Yes’. That was such a relief. So very quickly I told her we had paid for the tickets but they never arrived in the mail. She took a look at the paper and said ‘Your train leaves in 5 mins’. I told her, yes, so we have to settle the matter fast, if we could. She said they can’t re-issue the tickets. So what could be done was for me to refund the tickets (luckily I had bought refundable ones!) and to buy new tickets. So I told her ‘Yes, yes, I’ll do that’. She did some quick typing and said ‘Ok. You can request for the refund at the Avignon station’ . And she passed my paper back to me and smiled at me. So after 2 seconds of me looking at her and her smiling at me, I said ‘What about the tickets?’ She said ‘Don’t worry. I will inform the staff on the train’. And we could just show the ticket confirmation letter that we just showed her. I was letting the information sink in when she said ‘Quick, go, go!’, with her finger tapping on her watch. With a very fast, ‘Merci!’ , we dashed out and were able to very quickly locate the platform our train was on. Luckily that platform was not far away. We boarded through the first training opening we saw and within 5 seconds of us landing our feet on the train, the train started moving! We made it just in the nick of time! Phew! That was exhausting.
We found our seats and though that was it to our train saga. But of course not. We were in France! 😐
Some nice scenery on the train. While such scenery might be very common to some of you out there, us Singaporeans don’t get such scenery at all in Singapore. Its mainly a concrete jungle back home with some trees.
While the husband slept on the train, I kept an eye out for our luggages in addition to the scenery. I read about people’s luggages being stolen from trains and no, we, or rather I, was determined not to let that happen to us!
Continuing on our train saga, the train ticket conductor started checking tickets. When it was our turn, I just produced the printed confirmation. Conductor looked at me and said ‘No, you need tickets.’ I proceeded to tell him that the lady at the station said she would inform the staff on the train regarding the tickets, or rather, the lack of. That guy then spoke into his walkie talkie and then returned the paper to us and said someone else would attend to us. 😐
Then a lady staff came and she asked how come we don’t have our tickets. For the 1000th time, I repeated my story of us not receiving the tickets in the mail and how we were told we could board the train without the physical tickets. She said ‘I will call the station and check.’ OMG, we just wanted to go to Provence without all these hassle!
After like multiple calls to the station and the station calling back, she finally said ‘Ok, This time is special case. On your return trip, you must have the tickets’. What a relief! We were not going to be bumped off the ride. Still going to Provence! 🙂 🙂 🙂
When we reached Avignon TGV station, we proceeded to get our refund and tickets for the return trip to Paris. And we also asked for directions on where to take the bus to Avignon central. The bus trip costs slightly over 1 euro per person. It was a pretty fast ride to the stop at the post office in Avignon and we made our way to Hotel Boquier. It was a very nice surprise to find the hotel in less than 1o mins! 😎
I had booked this hotel based on reviews on tripadvisor and by the time I booked, we only had the option of the room with the slanting roof. 😉
This room worked fine for us since we were out for most of the day and I’m petite 😀
We had to watch our heads when getting in and out of bed, when standing up to ensure we don’t end up with sore heads.
The bathroom was small but sufficient. We had a small problem with water leaking onto the floor from the shower stall after each shower but whenever we returned back to the room after housekeeping, the floor was cleaned and dry. So no problems there! 😎
We were feeling hungry and walked around and managed to get a kebab for as a late lunch. It was a huge kebab and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
We decided to explore Avignon, to check out the main sites. One main site is the Palais du Pape and another is Pont Saint-Benezet. Avignon is a small town, so its easily walkable.
Along the way, we saw a theatre and Hotel de Ville.
It would be so lovely if we have such a lovely theatre in Singapore, instead of steel and concrete type. If we have such a lovely venue for concerts, theatre shows etc, Singaporeans would be a more cultured lot I reckon.
And then we came upon Palais du Pape! It looks magnificent!
See how lovely the sky is? We hardly get this type of sky back home. It was a real pleasure to enjoy such lovely skies! 😀
Again, love the wide spaces all around! 🙂
I think the Palais du Pape wasn’t open at that time and we continued exploring the area around it.
I’m not Catholic but I went to a convent school when I was young. And it was at Avignon that I felt so humbled upon seeing this, an image that I have come across many times. I wonder, just how and what does a devotee feel upon seeing this exact statue, in this surrounding. Must be a heart-tugging moment with the powers above.
And moving on….
The famous bridge in Avignon – Pont Saint-Benezet.
Oh and some flowers! 🙂
And then we left this area and headed towards somewhere, not exactly quite sure where. And we ended up in small streets in Avignon. Streets were rather quiet and only 2 or 3 people around occasionally.
And before we knew it, we were at the city wall around Avignon. It was out first time seeing a city wall, and I think its really really cool! 😎 😎 😎
So the sun was going down and we finally felt hungry. You see, sun sets at around 7pm in Singapore and that’s the cue for dinner for us normally. So for us to have dinner while sun is still out is still a foreign concept to grasp. Off to dinner at L’epices & Love. Also recommended on Tripadvisor.
The restaurant was almost full and we were lucky to snatch the second last seats in the back of the restaurant, where it was couch seating, as opposed to the normal table setting. We were totally fine with eating like that. 🙂
Waitress very kindly explained the menu in English for us. Menu was handwritten, so it is probably changed every day.
Interior of where we were seating
My husband got himself a couple of beer, which was very very good.
We didn’t know what were some of the stuff we ate 😉
I know, our food looks the same! They are probably the same 😉 , in which case, we got the pork cheek, which the waitress said has the most tender meat. The pork was cooked with herbs and the husband quite likes the dish.
Interestingly, we saw this near our table. It was interesting because those papers on the cupboard looks like the paper money that the Chinese in Singapore burns as ‘hell money’ during the Ghost month. We didn’t take a closer look to verify our suspicions but there’s a heck of similarity there. We wondered where the owners got them from.
While the food was not gourmet food, and more like home made ones, we were still happy we stopped by for dinner. 🙂 Great way to end the evening! Bonsoir!