30th april 2017
our hotel was booked last october, my cousins have been planning their trip for even longer and sunday morning at ten thirty we put the cats out and made a start for arles. we passed some friends and stopped to chat. we popped into the bank for some readies. i went to buy a paper as we crossed bretenoux…. and at no point did my brain tell me that half my holiday clothes were still in their hanging bag on the wardrobe in our bedroom. about fifiteen minutes before figeac i remembered. lou looked at me aghast as he pulled into a layby. ‘really? you need to go back?’ amazingly, he turned the car around and back we went. inwardly cursing, i calculated how much longer the journey was going to take. the weather was very windy and the sky darkening the further south we went. lunchtime sarnies were eaten in the forail car park at figeac and on we went. approaching the millau viaduct the electronic warning signs were aglow with ‘prudence’ ‘vent fort’. i clung to the seat and squeaked occasionally!
stopping for coffee we pulled on our thickest coats against the rain and felt sorry for the elderly motorbike riders getting kitted back up for their onward journey. as we approached the cirque de navacelles the mist and rain were combining to bring visibility down to just a few yards ahead.
my squeaking started again much to lou’s disgust. happily, as we descended from the heights of the causse so we dropped below the clouds and vision and calm were restored.
the rest of the journey was better and the gps found our hotel in arles without any fuss. fortunately, all the last minute hassle over my supposedly ‘invalid’ card which had me spending most of a morning trying to get someone to answer a phone had been resolved positively and our room was still there waiting for us. an odd arrangement of hotel. at reception ‘budget’ customers to the left and ‘styles’ to the right while on the floor above the rooms worked in reverse with our room being at the furthest end of the first floor. but near the fire escape which always soothes me!
texts back and forth ensured my cousins knew of our arrival and theirs took place as soon as they could drive over from st remy giving us time to destress from our prolonged drive.
a reunion which took place in the hotel lounge with hugs all round and especial big hugs for the cousin i hadn’t seen in about fifty odd years. chat and presents and then off to the centre of arles to find the restaurant i had booked after two of us trawled the internet for the best option. ‘la gueule de loup’ was tiny, we ate virtually in the kitchen, but the food was wonderful with original flavourings brought to traditional dishes. i had the vegetarian option, its very existence a novelty in meat loving france and in arles, the southern home of the ‘taureau’ steak!
a lovely evening inside but a horrible one outside. when calls for a taxi failed to find one, the owner offered to get his car to ferry the family back to the hotel while lou and i chose to walk home as we had willingly walked there.
the wind was making the banners on this building thwack so hard it sounded like scaffolding falling down!
we arrived at the hotel gate as they were driving out for the journey back to st remy. hands waving through wet windows then lou and i squelched back up to room ‘cent vingt’