A long trip to France starts with a single step, or really for that matter, a huge airplane.
I got to Dulles Airport at what I thought was going to be 5 hours early; Becky was wanting to get a jump on Friday traffic, and I had the car loaded by 10:30. We tried our best to take advantage of the tool free lanes on the Dulles toll road, but were forced to exit before Reston. Just past Herndon a white box truck was on its side, with its cab pretty well crushed. I hope no one was injured.
Afetr saying our goodbyes and getting one last pep talk, I discovered that arriving too early isn’t of any befit. Air France shares its counters with KLM and Korean Air, and would not be staffing the counters for another 2 hours.
The problem then became a technology issue, as the WiFi provided by my former employer was unusable. Shame on you AT&T WiFi. Thank goodness for Verizon 4G LTE data.
At 12:45, the staff started setting up, and while lining up, a note was handed out that the plane was going to be be late arriving into Dulles, and therefore late leaving. My travel agent Ellie called me to also confirm this, but said that I had a confirmed seat on a flight that would get be into Marseille Airport before I was to meet my group.
After getting throus security, I noticed that there were now traings at Dulles! My uncle had provided the hydrolics for the old moving lounges, so there’s always a sadness when I don’t get to use one of those.
I got to the gate, got some lunch from Potbelly and waited. And Waited. And Waited. Oh it’s a big plane, so the term Upper Decker competely changes here.
I looked at my ticket as they started the pre boarding and lo’ and behold I was priority… so I loaded in 4th in line. Woot! I guess it’s that Y class fare they charged me that did it. But it was almost worth it, as I was in Premium Economy; except for the lumpy seat I might as well have been in first class.
The seat reclined in the frame, had a blanket and pillow (that I ended sitting upon), a great in-flight entertainment system, a pocketbook filled with a pair of socks, a pair of earplugs (even though the seat came with Sensheiner noise cancelling head phones), eye covers, and a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.
Oh and the food. Nom.
A glass of wine, an appetizer or Smoked Duck breast, Parma ham, and a slice of brie, I had the penne pasta instead of the beef… mmm
I settled in and went to bed…
Now, since I really didn’t go to sleep at all, this is a two day post rolled into one, as it’s now 11:44pm here in Orange, and I still haven’t been to bed.
I got to Charles de Gaulle airport on time, strolled thru Customs, went back through security, and made it to my gate with 45 minutes to spare.
I stopped by an ATM and paid too much for Euros… so I waited for Marseilles to get the rest that I needed.
In Marseilles I met up with the tour group, to find I was the only one whom was not from Lafayette Louisiana, though I have been there before. The rest of the tour group are all friends and aquaintences, so it’s a very jovial group.
Once we all arrived (another flight needed to arrive to deliver the last of us), we filed out to the bus to load up and get going.
After meeting Pete and Gilles and Damien and the rest of the crew, we headed off to Orange.
I think I might have dozed for 5 minutes outside of Avignon since, of course, this was the part of France I had seen before…26 years ago.
Orange is a quaint little town with the well preserved ruins of a Roman Ancient Theatre and an Arc de triumph.
The clock tower reminded me a bit of Munchen, and the train of Seifen.
The famous Theatre Ancien, which will be showing Phantom. Now they showed Pucchi and the Magic Flute, I’m going to bet in Italian and German, what’s the odds they’ll play Phantom in english?
I walked up the rue to the Arc de Triumph de Orange…
After my little walk about, I made it back to the hotel, just in time to get into my room ang get my gear to get fitted on my rental bike and out for a ride.
My trusty steed for the next 10 days…
And off we went…
Can’t quite see Vontoux for my big head…
Down the Col le Dabat, and looking from the top of the next climb towards Nyons.
Made it back to Orange after a 55km ride…
After a shower and cleaning up, we went off to dinner at Le Garden restaraunt.
Dinner was an Aperitif of a Rose, mixed with black current juice and a spritz of Gin to give it a zing. White Wine was Terre et Ambre Ventoux Rose. Red was Domaine Saint Privat Cotes du Rhone Appelation table wine.
Our first course was Goat Cheese with an asparagus reduction, followed by the main course which was chicken served with asparagus and ham, with sliced potatoes, finished with a tarte du pomme, in a light cream sauce, and an espresso.
What a first couple of days! In a few hours we ride to the foot of Mont Ventoux and I get to see the Tour de France live and in Person!