Sunday, 2 November 2014

I won a trip to Provence!

Having not been out of the country since Erbie turned 2, I had taken to entering competitions on a whim and out of the blue I actually won! A trip for 2 to Marseille to stay at the Vieux Panier in the old quarter, transfers et al. Blooming marvellous. I had only recently talked about my wish to show Erbie where TheGR and I had lived in France (before he was born) when wham bam there it was in my inbox. Could it be too good to be true, could it be a scam, could I manage to go this year, well yes I could. The only blip was renewing Erbie’s passport but even that came back in time. So it was for three blissful days at the end of August I re-visited les temps perdu.

Erbie and Bunny at Heathrow
French France
We set off at daft o’clock,  Erbie eeked out of bed and bundled into a taxi at 5am for a rainy drive to Heathrow where sleepy staff and shuttered shops echoed the grey window views. Onto a BA flight to Marseille to be met by a rather handsome driver holding my name on a placard, one off the bucket list, (the placard not the handsome driver).

We were deposited at the hotel, in the pedestrianised old quarter at what was still very much morning. Off with the London garb for cold and wet and on with the faithful ripped denim shorts, berkenstocks and straw hat. Oh yes, I could feel the corners of my mouth starting to turn up already.

The old quarter of Marseille

Au Vieux Panier hotel front

We set off to explore as our room wasn't ready, pah nothing could dampen my mood, the sun was shining and people were speaking another language. Here are some sights on our way.

You can't get much more French than a Citreon duex chevals 
Close the door if you please!
Shutter up.
The Cathedral directly below the old quarter
Marseille Cathedral
Marseille Cathedral on the port
Marseille play area on port.
Sunhats on.

Marseille museum

View to Notre Dame de la Garde catherdral from the old port 

On January 24th, 1943 the German SS with the help of the French police evicted almost 15,000 people from the area around the old port and put them onto trains at Arenc station bound for the prison camps at Frejus.

Little tourist train 
The old port, Marseille

French menu
The roof above the Metro, Marseille old port
Mirror art, Marseille Metro
Looking up at the mirrored ceiling.
Le Big Mac
Marseille is famous for it's wonderful soap.
Marseille port
View over the old port.
Saint Victor's abbey
Enough walking now mummy.
Erbie on a little beach in the city of Marseille.

We walked from one side of Marseille to the other and then caught the bus back in the late afternoon to find there had been a mix up with out room and a double booking so they had to give us the one en haute (at the top). Well, at the top was the suite, not just a room, a terrace and a kitchen as well, oh boy. Aux Vieux Panier we love you.

By this time we were both pretty tired and Erbie just wanted to cuddle up on the sofa with his ipad, a quick sortie for provisions and I was happy to watch the sunset, the colour of my rosé on our terrace and listen the the ambient café noise from below.

Erbie making himself at home
Our room, Au Vieux Panier hotel
Someone else making himself at home!
Provencal rosé on the terrace (mine)
Sunset from the terrace of Au Vieux Panier hotel, Marseille

Avignon (where TheGR and I once lived for a year)
I love the French transport system, it's just so accessible and affordable. We caught a bus the the main station in Marseille and hopped on a train to Avignon. When you leave the station you are see the walls surrounding the city and the main avenue with a Monoprix, an H&M, a Zara, all my old haunts, leads up to the famous Palais du Papes.

Entrance through the city walls to Avignon

I took Erbie to Place Pie, where we stopped for bite and took in the local flea market. We just missed Les Halles (the daily undercover fresh food market), which finished at midday. I remember being thrilled at pick and mix baby salad leaves, and people chatting with a bock (a tiny wine glass of beer) after finishing their shopping at 10am.

Then to Rue des Teinturies where we lived in a tiny garrett above a theatre. Our old local wine bar was open although under new ownership, I took Erbie in for an apple juice and had a lovely glass of rosé. I showed him the water wheel in front of our old door, that I'd poured a whole bottle of sunflower oil onto to stop squeaking and it worked!

The theatre we once lived above in Avignon. The smoking dog
We lived here!
rue des Teinturiers, Avignon
Le zinc in the old local,  rue des Teinturiers, Avignon
When in France
Waterwheel on the river Sorgue, rue des Teinturiers
Water wheel on the river Sorgue, rue des Teinturiers
Blocks of stone arrived the summer we lived on rue des Teinturiers and were sculpted by many different artists over a series of days, they are still there.

Sur le pont d'Avignon!
The bakery on the corner where we got our pain quotidien had also closed down, the baker sadly deceased and his wife sold up. A big roly poly couple who worked hard and made the best croissants.

Then up the back streets away from the crowds arriving at the amazing Palais du Papes and gardens behind where Erbie had fun in the sprinklers!

The back of the Palais du Papes
Back of the Palais, Avignon
Back streets of Avignon
Palais du Papes from the back
Avignon, hewn from rock
The back of the Palais, Avignon
The back streets are much quieter in Avignon

Nipping up the back streets to the Palais
Avignon square in front of Palais du Papes
Palais du Papes, Avignon
Avignon, Provence, France
Palais du Papes, Avignon
Palais du Papes, Avignon
Notre Dame, Avignon

The Rhone and famous pont d'Avignon
Palais du Papes, Avignon

Well kept gravel
Marseille shopping and sunbathing at Vallon des Auffes.
After dipping into Monoprix for Herbes du Provence we got a tram to the main shopping area, which was super busy after the tranquility of our pedestrianised quartier (neighbourhood). Still we grabbed some Playmobile from the wonderful department store Printemps. And I managed to squeeze in a couple of French chemists for handbag sized treats of La Roche Posay, Nuxe and Caudalie. (Nothing over 100ml is allowed in hand luggage and I never put luggage in the hold).

After the morning shop I was keen to see the cute fishing port Vallons des Auffes made famous in the film The French Connection. It did not disappoint and just around the corner we found a quiet bay for a quick dip in the sea.

View from the hotel in the morning.
Sunrise from the terrace.
Morning on the our terrace in Aux Vieux Panier hotel, Marseille
Bliss for breakfast
The pedestrian only old quarter - Marseille
Fantastic graffiti all over Marseille 
Marseille old quarter - graffiti
Old quarter Marseille


Vallon des Auffes
Vallon des Auffes
Vallon des Auffes
Vallon des Auffes

Vallon des Auffes

Sunset in Marseille

Marseille graffiti

Aux Vieux Panier Hotel, Marseille

The lovely Au Vieux Panier is a small hotel in the old quarter of Marseille in Provence, France. The two girls who run it are lovely, (thank-you Sandrine); there is an honesty kitchen and only a few rooms, each room is decorated every year by a different artist. We stayed on the top floor in the Pixtil Suite. (Summer 2014) Every bathroom is stocked with Savon du Marseille and there is a rooftop terrace accessible via a spiral staircase with excellent views of the Cathedral. Beautiful white linen and towels provided and everything you could possible need just a stones throw away.

Pixtil room, Au Vieux Panier Hotel, Avignon
Wall in Pixtil suite
Pixtil suite 
Pixtil suite
Private terrace with our room 
Au Vieux Panier, Marseille 
Panier quartier, Marseille
Marseille soap shop
Marseille, shopping mall with Printemps and FNAC
Marseille near Vallon des Auffes
Marseille memorial
Vallon des Auffes
Public roof terrace, Au Viuex Panier, Marseille

Public roof terrace, Au Viuex Panier, Marseille

View from the public roof terrace

Public roof terrace

Spiral staircase to public roof terrace



Pixtil Suite, Au Viuex Panier, Marseille

Au Viuex Panier hotel

Au revoir Marseille

I won my lovely trip by entering a competition on and the holiday organisers were NDL

All photo's by me from my Blackberry © Sara Hodgkinson


Z said...

How wonderful, you really packed a lot in and they're lovely photos!

westendmum said...

Thank-you Z.

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