We had to wake up at 5am this morning to catch a tube from Hammersmith to London St Pancras Station because our Eurostar train bound for Paris Nord Station was departing at 7.49am. So it was a very early start but we knew we could relax on the train and hoped we might be able to sleep a little. We grabbed some snacks to have on the way and after going through security we hopped on the train and it left exactly on time. It was nice to be on such a quiet and fast moving train especially after travelling on the noisy London underground so much recently.
We arrived at Paris Nord Station at 11.17am and we had a 1 hour 20 minute stop over here but had to get to Paris Gare De Lyon Station to change trains for the next part of our travel. We were a bit confused how to get there at first but we managed to find a Paris Metro underground train that took us there. We had initially thought we may be waiting around at the station but we ended up having very little time before we had to hop on our train heading to Avignon. This left at 12.37pm and arrived in Avignon at 3.18pm and was definitely the nicer leg of the trip. Some of the scenery was spectacular and the time seemed to go very fast.
Before we knew it we were at our destination and as soon as I stepped off the train Kaci (Marie's Father) called out my name and we were very warmly welcomed by the Lafdal Family who we were going to be staying with in Vaison La Romaine. Marie Lafdal was a pen-friend of mine when I was at High School and her Aunty (Judith Lafdal) was my French teacher. We have stayed in touch ever since and Marie came to stay with my family in Christchurch back in 2004. When I went to the UK and Europe in 2008 I stayed with her and the family at their home in Lille for two weeks. We have not seen each other since and when Marie-Christine (Marie's Mother) asked if we wanted to come and have a holiday with them in the South of France I was very excited. So here we are!
Marie was not at the station to greet us because she arrives on Friday but her parents and brother (Pierre) seemed very happy to see us. They hadn't met Andrew before and he was a bit worried about the language barrier but I knew it'd be fine. My French speaking has gone out the window after all those years but I know the basics and can get a general idea what is being said. I was studying my French phrasebooks on the train and Pierre was helping us a lot too.
From Avignon station we travelled by car for just under one hour to Vaison La Romaine and I can't express how gorgeous this little town is. As soon as we drove in our eyes were out on stalks and the little place we are staying in overlooks the township. We are in a separate bedroom to the house with an ensuite and it is super cute with antique furniture and shutter doors that open right out during the day time. There is a very large swimming pool which we tried out when we got here because it was 30 degrees and it was a good way to freshen up after a long day travelling.
Kaci and Pierre took us into the town centre after this where we walked around and got a feeling for the place. We felt like we were in a French movie set with such beautiful old architecture and cobbled walkways. We feel so lucky to be here and it makes it even more special to be living with a French family.
When we got back to the house we had some Rose wine with nibbles which is a tradition for French before the meal. Marie-Christine made a yummy salad for dinner and afterwards we had special cheeses with bread. They have told us that we have to try two different cheeses every day we are here. There is 365 different cheeses in France (one for every day of the year) and I'm sure we will taste some of the best there is. This is definitely going to be a trip we will never forget and I'm saying this after only spending one afternoon/evening here! Bring on the next 6 full days we have here!