Tag Archives: Avignon

A week in Provence

And so it begins…

We were on a wine tour in Provence today, and EB had just bought some wine. Mid-chat with someone, he’d walked away leaving (I thought) €14 change behind.

Our lovely English-speaking French guide was standing nearby and, to be sure I wasn’t taking someone’s money by mistake, I asked him:

“Is that Frank’s or yours?”

Say that out loud, with a bit of a French accent, and you’ll know what’s coming next…

“It’s euros. We don’t have francs here anymore,” he replied.

I smiled. “Oh, no,” I said. “I mean, is that Frank’s change?”

Bien sur, we change many years ago.”

“Ah, oui,” I said, shrugging in that very-French way I’m learning.

But behind us, one of the other Australian ladies on our tour was looking confused. “Who’s Frank? Are you Frank?” she said to him.

“No, he’s Jacques,” I said.

“Then who’s Frank?”

But some things you just can’t explain…

So, apart from practicing French with the tour guide, I learnt that France is very prescriptive when it comes to viticulture.

Appellations mean that each region can only use certain grapes in their wine making and often at particular percentages. 

This is pretty handy to know, and explains why the labels clearly identify the region, but often don’t mention the grape variety.

It also explains why a waiter looked at me oddly the other day when I asked for un verre du vin blanc, s’il vous plait. Sauvignon?

“Sauvignon? Non. Bergerac.” he said, which I had a vague idea was a region…

Oui très bien seemed the appropriate answer.  At €2.50 a glass, I wasn’t about to argue.

At least I know what I’m ordering when I see a wine from Provence… I think. We may have worked out the whole wine thing by the time we leave, but I doubt it.

Oh well…When it comes to French wines, ignorance still ends up being bliss. Bonne journée!


Squeezing into Avignon

Copyright: Louise Ralph

French-kiss parking in Avignon

After an overnight pit stop in the rain-drenched Carcassonne, we arrived in Avignon.

First, Sylvia the GPS tried to take us down a one-way street into the city, then she tried to have us jump bollards and go the wrong way on the main road.

It was time to shut down Sylvia until we’ve found our own way into the city… Eventually, we let her off the leash and she leads us to our apartment.

Of course I’d been completely distracted, so hadn’t organised a key pickup.

Without a phone card or functioning mobile phone, we went in search of the Office de Tourisme. Which is when the adventure started.

One right turn was all we needed to lead us into the rabbit-warren of impossibly-narrow back alleys.

But we’ve been around long enough to know that very little is impossible in France when it comes to cars.

So we sucked in our breath and wove our way around until we finally came out at a main road – no closer to the Tourism place. C’est la vie.

Time to stop at the nearest hotel, not for a drink, although we definitely needed that. Instead, EB soon had them calling our apartment owners and arranging for us to meet.

Talk about opening doors (and leaping language barriers) with just a smile…

And who said blokes didn’t like asking for directions?