Roadtrips are fun, who doesn’t like them ? When I was still taking my driving license exam I was already planning the places I want to visit by car. Planning ahead was an easy task the hardest part was the wait, until Monday this week happened and off I went.
Day 1 | Aix-en- Provence – Lyon
Rule #1 of roadtrips is to leave quite early to avoid traffic jams, I was planning to leave Aix around 7:30am to avoid that, but then, when you’re not 100% prepared … you get what I mean. Lyon is a 4-hour drive from Aix, frankly speaking, I’ve never driven that long before so I was a bit anxious. The weather was gray and cloudy (what a good way to start the first day of your roadtrip) but it wasn’t much of a hindrance. We made stops on the way to stretch our legs, drink and reenergize. By 12:45-ish we arrived at our hotel – Hotel Tâggat .
The first impression I had upon arrival at Lyon was this welcoming feeling and peacefulness, the relief of arriving safely was part of it and another part was the satisfying feeling of discovering other place than home.
We explored downtown Lyon in the afternoon (for lunch) and in dusk to night (for dinner).
As for lunch, well, we never agreed on what to eat besides pizza, after an hour of strolling and looking for a place to eat, he finally gave up and entered a japanese restaurant with me. The restaurant is called « Ramen Shop », it’s small but the quality of food is delicious.
I then wondered, why this type of taste doesn’t exist in Asian restaurants in Aix …
The second time we left our hotel to explore downtown was around 6pm already, we wanted to see how the nightlife was in Lyon, but unluckily, it was a Monday night, which means, the city is dead. Not that that matters, we explored a bit, grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and hunted for a place to eat, no luck there so we decided to sit in the « Hard Rock Café ». Classic but not really familiar to us.
I ordered pulled-pork burger for dinner and a strawberry daiquiri to relax. The meal was affordable (€16) and delicious, unexpectedly. However, we were quite disappointed with the cocktail, it was small and light on alcohol …
After a large meal we decided to call it a day around 11:30pm, afterall I’d have to drive more than 7 hours the next day.
Day 2 | Lyon – Bourges – Le Mans
Leaving Lyon early was a miss again, in the end it took us about an hour to exit the city and take the highway. What a ride indeed! On the way to Bourges until the last stop for the day, we understood that this was the wrong time of the year to travel, there were highway works everywhere and that really delayed our time of arrival both in Bourges and Le Mans.
We arrived around 1pm in Bourges, explored the city very quickly and grabbed a bite and we continued our way, since we still have another 3 hours on the road.
On the way to Le Mans, no luck again here, we missed to exits because of the highway works and delayed our trip for another hour. I was feeling tired after all these obstacles and decided to take a nap in a rest area, this delayed us for another hour, we finally reached our destination at 7:30pm. I counted 10 hours of driving that day – talk about a roadtrip.
Le Mans was my home for a school year, when I first arrived in France in June 2010. My stepfather’s sister live in this city so the accommodation was not a problem.
Day 3 | Le Mans – Nantes
After a good night’s sleep and preparing for the day, I decided to take my bf to downtown and show him around a bit. The difference in the inhabitants’ attitude in the north and that of the south is astonishing not only to my boyfriend but to me as well. I didn’t notice it before but after living in the south for 6 years now, I tend to say that people in the north of France are much more appreciative In regards to their daily lives.
After lunch in Le Mans, we proceeded to Nantes which is only 2 hours away. We arrived quite late in Nantes, around 5pm which is a shame because Nantes is a very beautiful city. It’s modern and at the same time traditional. If we had the time, we could have stayed a bit longer or even stayed the night but we were on our way to my grandparents’ house for dinner. Riaillé is the my stepdad’s hometown, it’s an hour drive from Nantes.
We should have listened to what my uncle said about Nantes, « be there before 10 and get out of there before 5pm ». We got out of Nantes later than 5pm so I guess the traffic jam wasn’t a surprise.
Day 4 | Nantes – Bordeaux
Towards the south again. 4-hour drive for me. The trip to Bordeaux wasn’t that tiring as the previous ones, we took our time to stop in rest areas. In Bordeaux, we stayed at City Residence Le Chartrons . Perfectly located near downtown.
We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and appreciated a bath from the long drive. I explored the streets that lead to downtown alone at first. I returned to the hotel to get my boyfriend to have some drinks and dinner.
Bordeaux was even nicer than Lyon, the city was lively in the evening (which we thought was normal since it’s the end of the week). Again, we noticed the difference of the southern people here and those from home. People smile at you and talk to you.
We had a lovely evening taking shots at the Barberousse bar which is the same bar we have at home. For dinner, once again, I was shocked to eat real japanese food. (Chiba store).
Day 5 | Bordeaux – Bédarieux – St. Rémy-de-Provence
Our final day was packed. We left Bordeaux quite late so we had to rush the visit of my boyfriend’s grandmothe, which was a shame. The trip to the small village of Bédarieux was about 4 hours, we were both anxious to reach our last stop which is a 5 star spa hotel in St. Rémy-de-Provence.
We arrived around 7:30 at the Le Vallon de Valruges Hotel and Spa (hotel review on a later blogpost). Finally some time to relax and unwind after a short but tiring roadtrip. The spa was the cherry on top of this trip, something we both love.
I’d have to agree with my boyfriend, this trip was packed and dense, we only got to see the surface of every place we visited. Nonetheless, we both enjoyed it. I loved discovering new places and widening my horizon. I’ve been living in France for quite some time now, but despite of that I didn’t really know the country. After this roadtrip, I knew a bit more of my second country. Until next time.
For more photos check out my journi profile.