South of France, part three

We gave ourselves plenty of time to get home from our summer vacation.  Why rush back when we still have so much of France to see?

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Avignon is only about 200 kilometers from our southern beaches but our only goal was to be away from the coast and its traffic.  We toured the city, stopped at the famous half bridge, and found a geocache at the foot of the Palace of the Popes.

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The following day we continued on our lazy journey home, taking mostly back roads winding through hills and vineyards.  We never stumbled on any lavender fields (they had all been cut a week or two before) but we did fall into another of France’s “Most Beautiful Villages”.  Following signs pointing to Séguret, up we climbed.  As luck would have it, Séguret was having a brocante.  It was like the morning was made for me.

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Walking through the town back to our car we noticed a sign touting a visite gratuite du souterrain, a free underground visit.  Alright.  We followed it and wound up in the courtyard behind someone’s house with tables set for lunch for the family.  Two boys, probably about 10 years old, met us and yelled back into their kitchen, “Maman!  Visiteurs!”  then beckoned us to follow them into a back room while pointing out a well and a hidden back passageway that used to lead to the town’s chateau but has been caved in for who knows how many centuries.  Hey, if your grandfather had a summer house in one of France’s Prettiest Villages and had a back room that was carved out of the hillside during the middle ages and you (and your cousins) were looking for a fun way to meet some of the visitors tromping up and down the cobbled pathways outside your front door, what would you do?

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Our stop for the night was outside of a nondescript French town (if such a thing exists) called Nevers.  And we stayed in a chateau.  Because we could.

Chateau du Four de Vaux dates from the 19th century and sits on beautiful grounds with its own chapel in the woods, an incredibly friendly house cat who would have stayed in our room with us had we let him in, and a private spiral staircase leading from our bedrooms down to our bathroom.

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On our way home the following day, we stopped to visit another chateau, this one a wee bit bigger.  Chateau de Fontainebleau was the former home of the kings of France and, more important in Ben’s eyes, Napoleon.  The kids got to take their second audio tour in as many weeks and loved every second of it.

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And then we were home.  How future summer vacations will stack up against the ones we’ve taken here in Europe, I don’t know.  Luckily, another mini vacation is coming up quickly…

 So, to recap:

Vacation days: 11

Beach days: 4

Pool days: 7

Sunburns: 3 (I escaped)

Octopus sightings: 1

Late bedtimes: 10

Brocantes shopped: 2

Bullfights watched: 1

Geocaches found: 3

Speeding tickets expected in the mail: 1

Celebrities spotted: 0

South of France, I will miss you!

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