A quick trip to the market for our last Colmar coffee and to pick up a couple of croissants for today’s train trip. We drop off the key to our place at the agency and then head to the train station and wait for our first train, which arrives in just a few minutes. The first trip is a 30 min back to Mulhouse where we wait 45 mins for the TGV train (fast train). It is then just a 3 hour or so train trip and we are back in the south of France. The fast train is very pleasant and we chat for an hour or so to 3 people from East Bentleigh!
Our train destination is Valence where we are to pick up our hire car. We have ordered the cheapest car, which is also the smallest car. We figure with these small French roads and crowded villages with little parking that is the way to go. The other thing we order is a GPS to help us find our way around the countryside. The woman at the Avis hire is lovely, but they are having a few problems with the number of cars available today and the only available car is a Jeep Renegade, bright orange! This is a 4-wheel drive…probably a bit on the smaller size as far as 4WDs go, but nonetheless the opposite of what we wanted! And of course, all hire cars here seem to be manual, which is fine except that neither of us have driven manual for around 7 years.
We have no real option, so take off in the orange beast! How hard can it be in a 4WD, manual, right-hand drive and driving on the other side of the road!!!! Bloody hard!! Jackie is brave enough to volunteer to drive first, while I navigate and work out the GPS. First mistake is that we find ourselves on a motorway (tolls) when I did not want to do these. Panic at the immediate toll gates!! Push the button to talk with someone, who of course does not speak English, so Jackie just says “error” in a Spanish accident (I don’t know why!). Smart man works out exactly what the problem is and delivers us a ticket, which lets us through. We drive on to our exit point and there are able to pop our credit card in the toll machine (we had seen Anthony do this a week or so ago) and we are through…those motorways are not so bad after all.
It is then a 1.5 hour drive to our hotel! We start off on a main road, and it wends it way through villages and spectacular scenary which we can hardly admire as we concentrate so hard on driving and speed limits and other traffic. Then the roads get smaller and smaller, until we are on one-lane roads which only just fit our car, but they are 2-way!! So we are driving in 2nd gear most of the time as we go around blind bends and pray no one is coming the other way!
We arrive at our hotel and decide the stress was all worth it. This place Is on top of a large hill in a beautiful valley… think Tuscany, think Provence… it looks very similar! It is a beautiful valley with small hamlets of stone buildings with those roman semi circular tiles on the roof. The hotel itself is pretty swish… and our room has spectacular views as well. Luckily they have a restaurant for breakfasts and dinner as we could not have driven down the hill again to get any food!