I took a long break from publishing posts for awhile since there were more urgent matters occurring in the world–such as COVID, BLM, the world ending, etc and I wanted time to process as well as show respect by taking a pause. This was written awhile ago and I hope it helps you take your mind off of the heavier things that seem to be ceaselessly occurring and gives you a slight reprieve from being stuck wherever you’re currently quarantining.
Thanks for traveling with me, let’s have some fun!
We drove from Arles to Paris in the middle of the night because we were creeped out big time!
The original plan was to take a train from Monaco to Paris but while we were in Monaco, we had gotten news that there had been a terrorist attack at one of the train stations in Marseille and decided that we’d feel more comfortable driving.
I recommend doing this drive since you pass by a lot of unreal scenery but at the same time, I also don’t recommend it. Here’s why:
South of France Vibes
The route from Monaco to Aix-en-Provence was absolutely stunning– You pass by Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and Marseille(we skipped this area because it was pretty chaotic due to the recent acts of terrorism mentioned above).
The drive along the coast of Southern France is absolutely worth doing and I can’t recommend it enough. This is probably my favorite coastal scenery in the world and I’ve seen a lot of stunning coastlines as a California native. There is something so timeless and elegant about this part of France; it makes you think of summer done right(not comparable to the hot and humid summers of New York, sorry NYC still love you). Time moves slower and everyone is soaking up the sun as well as the seconds…there is no hurry and nothing else matters in the world.
I believe this overall vibe is attained through the mixture of multiple European cultures condensed into one small area–Spain, Italy and even Greece are close to the border and the run off of the cultures mixed with French tradition creates an eclectic and unpretentious laid back atmosphere.
In short, the south of France is effortlessly cool.
The drive was pleasant and you are driving along a curvy cliff road that encompasses a stunning coast(I suggest taking turns at the wheel if you are traveling with other people so you can be safe and take in the views while someone else is driving).
The French Countryside
National parks, lavender and sunflower fields and tolls galore: Aix-en-Provence to Avignon, Arles, and Lyon.
Important tip- Have cash on hand because you will encounter a lot of tolls on the way and some do not take foreign credit cards.
This strip of the journey was filled with farmhouses, bridges and vast fields. There is a ton of historical french architecture–such as castles(both abandoned and occupied), wineries and cute French villages. Oh, and a ton of round-a-bouts.
Our first stop was in Arles–where we planned to stay the night and explore the next day. Our plans were thwarted by the creepy bed and breakfast we chose to stay at(there were not a ton of options in terms of hotels in the area).
Here’s a little history lesson about Arles and its significance. Have you heard of Van Gogh? Well, if you haven’t then you should Gogh and look his work up on the goog. If you have, then you might know that the sunflower fields in Arles were what inspired him to paint his famous painting, Sunflowers in 1888-1889. Since he is one of my favorite artists, I wanted to stay in the town that he lived in and figure out why the fuck he cut his ear off while living here. I think I might’ve discovered why after spending the afternoon in Arles. Fun fact: Picasso was another artist known to frequent the town.
The vibe in Arles is…charming with a slight hint of tortured artist. What I mean by this is that it was pleasant in the day time, painfully beautiful even; and if you are lucky enough to catch the sunset then you would understand why Van Gogh chose to live here but at night it was a little eerie. Arles left you alone in the quiet, dark nights with only your thoughts and the starry night.
The old stone architectural style gave the town an old school gothic vibe. It was very mid-century pre renaissance middle ages mixed in with a contemporary revolutionary era undertone.
We saw cars parked but no people and to this day, we still have no clue as to where those people could have gone since there were not many buildings nearby, the restaurants/bars will not at full capacity and the streets were pretty empty. Not out of the ordinary enough to make us pack our bags and run, yet.
On the way to our Bed and Breakfast, we were lucky enough to witness an unforgettable sunset that lit the sky up a crimson red color; a total foreshadow of what we were in for that night. It wasn’t until we arrived at our B&B that we started to feel uneasy. The place was set up in a sterile looking old mansion situated in the middle of empty fields, and as soon as we parked the car and walked in we were greeted by an older woman who didn’t ask for any identification(this was the first place that did not ask for a copy of our passports and credit cards…should’ve been a red flag but she’s a cute old lady so we didn’t think too much of it) and just led us to our rooms. The hallways were eerily dim and we passed by several dark empty “chambers”(I think this means room in French) before reaching our room.
As soon as we stepped foot into the room, we got a whiff of something that smelled like a mixture of embalming fluids and a rotting dead body; it made me recall the rat dissection that we all had to do in high school biology, the chemical scent was strong enough to almost mask the rotting smell. We thought someone had been murdered in that room because it stunk, we told the lady and she seemed unfazed. She robotically offered to move us to another room, which to her defense didn’t smell bad but was just as creepy looking because it was furnished in an atrocious red/hot pink color(you know, probably to mask up the blood splatter). The way that room was decorated should be a crime in itself. Anyway, she winked at us and called it the “romantic room”. That was when the terror started to set in and we were admittedly a little scared. We had gotten the infamous Arles experience we wanted. So we told her we were heading out to dinner and got our luggage and literally sprinted out of there before this turned into an episode of CSI: Dumb Bitches.
The drive to Paris was a total of 8 hours nonstop and by the time we arrived in Paris it was 5 am. We were running on adrenaline and about to collapse. I tried calling every hotel and begged them to let us check in early but there were either no vacancies or we were too late for the night and had to wait until the next day. Only one hotel agreed to let us in early and even let us sleep in their spa; I am honestly forever grateful to them and will recommend this hotel to anybody who asks where the best place to stay in Paris is–it actually is one of the best places to stay merit wise despite them doing us a huge favor. There was a (very, very cute) French guy manning the front desk at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome and he was kind enough to take us in and he even opened up the spa early just for us so we could wash up and rest. I am still grateful for his kindness to this day. This experience taught me to always remember that you never know what someone else has just been through and is currently going through and just a simple gesture of kindness could mean the world to them. Kindness goes a long a way and can spark a chain reaction, you never know what you could be contributing to so let’s help lift each other up and if you are ever in the position to do so, I hope you help make someone’s burden a little lighter.
We ending up staying at the Park Hyatt for a week–when we originally planned to only be in Paris for 3 days– because the experience was unlike any other. They let us check into our room early after napping in their exceptional spa and even sent up macarons and a bottle of wine after giving us time to settle in. The service is truly the one of best I’ve experienced after traveling around the world…the Four Seasons Resort in Maui was the other hotels that I would go back to just to stay at the hotel because it was so great (though Maui as a destination is wonderful).
Paris was wonderful and everything I imagined it would be, though the itinerary will have to come later in another post since it will be a long one as I have a ton of food recommendations and things to rave about.
Thanks for reading 🙂