From Lucca we drove to France. The roads were congested, specially near Cap d’Antibes and Monaco. As the French holidays occur in August, it’s necessary to be prepared when hitting the highways during high season! It takes hours to go from one place to the next.
Aven d’ Orgnac
The best place to read about Aven d’ Orgnac and get more information is online: ViaMichelin.com . We used Via Michelin as our source for information.
The only way to visit the caves is taking a guided tour. There is a huge (free) parking lot and a small museum that can be visited while you wait for your tour departure.
The guided tour is very interesting and at end there’s a show inside the cave with lights and music. It’s very touching to watch how many wonderful things our little planet can produce.
On our way visiting attractions we passed by very charming villages in Provence.
Gorges de l’Ardèche
This route is absolutely wonderful, with incredible views along the way. It’s possible to park the car, take pictures and continue till the next sightseeing point.
All sightseeing pull outs are very well signed. As a small critic, I think some concessions along the way selling refreshments would be appreciated. We also found there are no public toilets available anywhere. We are used to travel in Canada and the US, where services to the public as fresh water and toilets can be found everywhere. Anyway, it’s a very scenic drive and I highly recommend it!
We walked around the city and visited the Pope’s Palace (Palais des Papes). The Papal Palace is beautiful but we missed informative signposts.
I also found it “too empty”: There could have some pictures or paintings on some of the walls showing how was life in the Palace when it was in use. There is almost nothing.
We had the audio guide but listening to the recorded presentation was not enough. I guess it could be complemented by displays containing drawings or paintings, showing how a dinner looked like, how was the kitchen while preparing banquets, etc
The Papal Palace is a place where you keep walking from one room to the other without history being presented. An audio-visual at the start of the visit (as it’s very common in the USA) would have been very useful as well.
Avignon’s Touristic Train: The small train that goes around Avignon is a total waste of time and money as the train goes on the exact same spots where it’s possible to go walking, as the walled city is really small. In fact, it is much better to visit the sights by foot because you have much more opportunities to take pictures than seating inside a crowded train. I would recommend the train only if you are traveling with people with disabilities, elder people or small children. Otherwise, don’t take the train!
Where NOT to stay while traveling in France: We intended to stay near Provence for eight days but we had very bad luck with our choice for accommodations in Uzès. We rented an apartment where the advertising in VRBO stated “CITY CENTRE OF ROMANTIC TOWN UZÈS – STYLISH, AIR-CONDITIONED!”. This is a lie. It’s a terrible apartment, with only one window, the kitchen is accessed through the bedroom (!!!) and the air conditioner was not working (it was 36 degrees Celsius!).
This is for sure, the worst apartment we have rented. The property is now being listed in Homeaway.com as http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p6324365 .
At the time we rented they had another number for the listing, but I guess the owners took the apartment off and added it again (with a new number) so it’s currently impossible to read the bad reviews they got.
So… if you want to know where NOT to stay in Uzès, here is the address: Rue Jean Jaurès, 1 , Uzès, 30700. (http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p6324365). The nickname we found for this apartment is “Hell in France”.