Europe 2013: Provence, Day 1

And then we hit the road!

And then we hit the road!

The driving time from Nice to Boulbon comes up to just under 3 hours. We had a late-ish start because of miscellaneous errands involving the rental car and prepaid SIM cards, so we decided to make just one or two stops en route so that we’d make it to our villa in time for dinner.

We skipped Cannes and Marseilles, stopping only in Aix-en-Provence.

Which is why we skipped Cannes and Marseilles, stopping only in Aix-en-Provence. We figured there would be other nice places to explore after settling down in Boulbon.

Aix-en-Provence, or Aix for short, is a pretty and picturesque Provencal city. We grabbed a quick, late lunch in a little cafe, then had a  walk through part of the city just to take in the atmosphere. Random observation – lots of global chains like the Gap have stores in little Provencal cities/towns, but often they’re housed in quaint old buildings and so they don’t stick out or grab attention more than they have to.

We also saw a lot of dogs in various parts of Provence. Cat sightings were much fewer.

I also saw a lot of dogs in various parts of Provence. Cat sightings were much fewer.

We rolled up at La Bastide du Boulbon, our base for the next two days and nights, well in time for dinner. It’s a small establishment operated by a couple, Marie-Claire and Jan, and between the two of them they knew how to make every guest feel entirely at home.

The villa's garden. I dare you to tell me this doesn't look as pretty as a postcard.

The villa’s garden. I dare you to tell me this doesn’t look as pretty as a postcard.

For starters, dinner that night was excellent. The menu wasn’t huge – between me and James, we probably tried two-thirds of the available options – but it comprised lots of seasonal produce, and was great value on the whole.

The dining room was located in a greenhouse-ish extension of the main building, overlooking the garden.

The dining room was located in a greenhouse-ish extension of the main building, overlooking the garden. Very rustic, very lovely.

I love squash in general, so this pumpkin soup was right up my alley.

I won’t bore everyone with photos of a meal they can’t have, so here are just some highlights ;) I love squash in general, and this pumpkin soup was right up my alley.

Dessert was the tastiest apple tart I've ever had.

Dessert was the tastiest apple tart I’ve ever had.

All the guest rooms were small, but very comfortable. When we checked in, Marie-Claire suggested we might be more comfortable in the guesthouse – outside the main hotel building – which cost just a little more each night but had a bit more space to move around. After comparing the options, we went for the guesthouse, and it was probably a good idea since I was getting bigger and clumsier by the minute!

And so this is where we passed out, after having been stuffed full of delicious French cooking for the 2nd time in two nights.

And so this is where we passed out, after having been stuffed full of delicious French cooking for the 2nd time in two nights.

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