The adventure of a lifetime. An opportunity not to be missed. A complete change of lifestyle and the chance of a better future for the both of us. The promise of warmer climates and fine weather. Some of the best food and wine in the world. Breathtaking scenery, and a rich artistic culture full of history. This was all enough to seduce us into thinking we were making the right decision. …The hardest bloody thing I have ever undertaken in my life! I must be mad! Whatever are we doing here?
We arrived before Easter 2018, with our lives packed into 4 suitcases. All of which were within a gnats whisker of the weight limits imposed by our budget no thrills airline. The suitcases had been packed with care and precision by my beautiful girlfriend. So much so that they bulged at the sides. Ready to pop like a jack in the box. Exploding underpants, suncream and other assorted clothing at whoever opened the zip. At first glance, you would be mistaken for thinking we were a travelling family of 5. But alas it was just me and my beloved. Tired weary travellers ready for the next stage of our adventure together.
We landed in Nimes, which is a very small quiet airport on the whole, perfectly adequate for our needs, but perhaps only dealing with one or two flights a day during March, and not particularly full flights at that. I came across my first French unisex public toilet experience in that airport just after we landed. An eye-opening affair that involved this rather embarrassed and clumsy Englishman wondering if I had wandered into the wrong room by mistake. Much to the bewildered amusement of the French ladies inside as I mumbled to them “hmm… pour homme sil vous plait?”. But I was soon in an empty cubicle after a gentleman had left, and managed not to get in too much trouble.
We had booked a hire car from the airport. Our first experience with French paperwork, and at the time it seemed a little over the top. But oh how we would learn very quickly that this initial foray was just the tip of the iceberg. It is fair to say that on the whole, the French like to be rather thorough when it comes to paperwork, so take this as fair warning, but more on that another time.
After 15 minutes or so of form filling, we were presented with a lovely little Peugeot to take home for the week, a rather standard little city car perfect for two people and a couple of suitcases. So after a bit of jiggery-pokery, we squeezed all four of our large cases in the tiny boot and back seat, and set off on our 45 minute journey to the Airbnb in Avignon, on the wrong side of the road for the 1st 100 metres, “pardon monsieur”.
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