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Our 2019 Adventures in France & Spain (part 1 – Provence)

Written by Jeff Drake
10 · 17 · 19

Provence (Roussillon)

It’s always surprising how long the wait seems before going on vacation, then suddenly you’re traveling and soon, before you know what is happening, you are back, the vacation is over and you’re thinking, “Wow, that was fast!” And for this particular vacation, although I was ready to come home (as usual), there was a part of me that didn’t want to leave. Like long lost sultry lovers, France and Spain once again set their hooks into me deeply.

I say “once again” because we have been to both France (in 1997 and 2002) and Spain (in 1991 and 2018) before. I was also fortunate to have had the additional pleasure of spending two Spring weeks in Paris in the 1990s for work).

Truly, when it comes to these two countries, we cannot get enough.

This trip included traveling with our two good friends, Mike and Denise from Minnesota, with whom we had traveled to Switzerland and Italy in 2017. It was the first trip to France and Spain for both of them. Lisa, with my support, worked feverishly to nail down a fun itinerary for our joint adventure.

Similar to our trip to Switzerland and Italy, this journey was executed without any major issues whatsoever, a testament to the benefits of planning and preparation. Hats off to Lisa who missed her calling as a travel agent! About the only minor issues we had to deal with were weather-related, which were, of course, out of our control.

I figured we were due for some weather issues, as we’ve been so lucky in our last few trips to enjoy good weather, and sure enough, the weather in France was a bit rainy. It was a safe guess on my part, as we were traveling in the shoulder season, just before the vacation season closes for winter. 20-20 hindsight tells me that it would have been better weather-wise for us if we’d travelled two weeks earlier. But hey, you aren’t going to enjoy much world travel if you let something like the weather get you down and prevent you from having a good time. So we didn’t let it bother us. Besides, the clouds and light as a result of the weather can make for some dramatic photos, which we enjoy taking.

This trip also included driving in France, something Lisa and I have done before, so I was not very concerned about it. Still, the narrow, twisty roads in rural France can be challenging, to say the least. All in all, the driving went well and without accidents (unlike Italy in 2009).

We all arrived at the same time in Amsterdam and then flew into Marseille on the same plane, which was very convenient, where we picked up our Europcar rental. I had my phone which was preloaded with detailed Google maps that Lisa had prepared for our trip, plus I had digital and printed parking maps for each of the cities we might visit in France, plus I brought my Garmin, preloaded with Europe maps. This was the first time Lisa and I were going to rely heavily on our new carrier, T-Mobile, in another country. Neither of us knew how good it was going to be (although a friend of mine said it would be no problem). As it turned out, T-Mobile worked great! We did our entire trip using Google maps.

Our plan was to get the car in Marseilles and then make the drive immediately to Roussillon, a town in Provence, where we had rented a VRBO house for a six days. All went according to schedule. The map below shows our route.

None of us had ever been to Provence before and although Lisa and I had spent a lot of time looking at Youtube videos and reading books, we still weren’t quite sure what to expect. In this case, we were still blown away by the beauty of the rural Provence countryside. Instead of staying in a larger city, we opted to stay in Roussillon, a village in the Luberon valley, with a population of around 1400.

We had a short walk from where we could park our car to our house, but it wasn’t too far, which was good because dragging luggage across cobblestone streets can be a hassle. Shown below are photos of the VRBO house we rented.

Our VRBO house in Roussillon

The house entrance above is on the right.

The house had 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room and patio. For some strange reason (jetlag?) Lisa and I both forgot to get photos of every room in the house, with the exception of the second bedroom (below). Oh well, take our word for it, the house was nice!

One of three bedrooms in the house.


We did manage to get photos of the views from our patio, however, shown here:

A view from our patio.

A view from our patio.

A view from our patio.

A view from our patio.

And we loved walking around and discovering our Provence village:

Walking from our car to our house.

Roussillon at night was also beautiful!


Lisa, admiring the city at night.


I will attempt to follow our itinerary, creating blog posts for the different sites and activities, the first of which shall be coverage of our truffle farm tour, where we got educated all about truffles! Stay tuned!


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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.