Au Revoir Paris!
14.05.2011 - 14.05.2011 16 °C
I was so sad to leave Paris. Contrary to what a lot of people say, the Parisians are lovely and most try their best to help you to communicate. I only met one arrogant person, at a market, when he tried to sell me a hat for 20 euros and I said it was too much, he waved me away saying, "au revoir."
Picked up my rental car at Orly Airport, a little diesel A-Class Mercedes - with GPS. It was a mission getting on the right track, got a bit confused over the GPS terminology at first & it had to recalibrate more than once! I also tried to turn the wrong way into a road & was stopped by a guy in a truck yelling "non, non, non!!" I thanked him, backed out & took off in the right direction. Also turned into the wrong lane once with oncoming traffic coming straight at me, but quickly did a u-turn around the traffic island & it was all good after that - well, mostly :-). Once I finally got on the right road in the right direction, it was pretty easy. The speed limit on the autoroutes is either 110 or 130 km - it felt a little naughty going that fast!
Finally made it to Avallon just after 2pm in one piece and found my hotel, Les Capucins. It's an interesting establishment, with a pretty flash looking restaurant at the front, and the rooms are less than upmarket, though clean & tidy. The decorating is somewhat eclectic but I guess that just adds to the charm. My room is on the 3rd floor up a spiral staircase (no lift) so there was no way I was carrying my 20 kg suitcase up there. I just took out what I would need for the night & morning & left it in the car. Went for a walk around the town - very "village-y", with really old buildings in various states of disrepair. Unlike Paris, where all the buildings I saw where well looked after, here there is cladding & roof tiles falling off & broken windows as if they don't take pride in the place.
Quite sad really because it could be really charming. Still, it's a fairly busy little place late in the afternoon & people seem nice. I finally found a place that sells cameras (only 2 models of Sony Cybershot, but better than nothing) & got one that will do the trick nicely. Had dinner at the hotel restaurant, the best dinner I've had and the cheapest too. The entree was delicious - what they call a soft white cheese, essentially a creamy, garlicky spread, with toasted baguette slices & a vegetable salsa-type mixture.
There was a sprinkling of rain on the way and the temperature has dropped, though it fined up late in the afternoon. Hope that bodes well for tomorrow.
I've changed my plans for tomorrow and won't be going to Chambord Chateau. It would mean over 8 hours driving in total, so I think it's best to leave it & spend more time in Vezelay in the morning & drive a liottle more leisurely for 5 hours or so instead. I'm sure there will be other chateaux to see on the way. There's a basilica in Vezelay that looks pretty amazing so I may check that out.