Marcus Travel Journal

2023 - Spring in France

Italian farmhouse


Oh the colours and textures of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. We enjoyed our time in this area in 2022 and this returned to enjoy the atmospher and sights. We even returned to stay in the very pleasant house, in the town of Vedène that we stayed in the previous year. I knew there were numerous towns to explore but even I was surprised that by the end of these trip, travelling each day to a different town or village for my photography outings, I only visit four towns from those I saw last year. But of those I revisted, such as the old town of Chateauneuf-de-Gadagne, in the photo above, I entered it from a different location and discovered areas that I totally missed last year.

France in the Spring

Our first week was in Paris. I was somewehat nervous with the stories of strikes and violent protests to the change in retirement age that took place. In the end, northing to worry about. But I must say the day I turned a corner and saw a row of police behind plastic riot shields I felt uncomfortable. I turned and instantly took a different route home. The

The weather was a surprise. It was very cool, it always seemed to be on the verg of rain. I guess I should have taken the sweater I left out of my suitcase in the name of travelling light.

Then we traveled to Marseille by TGV. My, train travel in France is easy. The speed train was quick and comfortable. So much easier to just take a cab to the train station, wait a few minutes for the train to arrive and then we were off. We arrived at the TGV station just outside of Marseille. From there we took a cab to the Renault Service Centre which is located near the Marseille airport, about a 30 to 40 minute ride.

Picking up a car from Renault on their TT Program is so easy. It was then onto the Autoroute. Straight it would be an hour or so drive we had tro take a slightly longer route as it was Sunday, and no food stores would be open in Avignon. Not a problem as with most rentals, they do not want you to check in until later in the afternoon.

It was good to be bgack in the the South of France. We have rented a house Vedène. While we were there the weather was coolish for the first week or so, I almost bought a sweater, but it did warm up and some of the days it became very hot - those were relaxing pool days

Citroen - the feeling of Provence


I was always on the lookout for a classic Citroen!

Vedene Guesthouse


Our Guesthouse, located a short drive from the historica area of Vedène is very comfortable. We just walk out our front door to the patio, and the pool is a a step away.



Vedène, a commune in the Vaucluse Department of the Region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region, is located about 20 minutes from Avignon. The historic centre of the town, on a hill, is just a few minutes from house. There is a portion of the old château remaining. Built by the Raynouard Family in 1109, it still stands. Over the centuries, ownership changed across several families that included the famous De Sade family. The Galleans, a family from Italy, came to the area when the Popes moved from Rome to Avignon. They acquired the seigneury of Vedène and became the Barons of Vedène and the Dukes of Gadagne. They kept the castle until the French Revolution. It was passed from person to person, and in 1969 Pierre and Jeanine Gaillard, parents of the current owner Robert, acquired the castle.

Today the château is partly occupied. Village houses cluster around the old building. The Château de Vedène, operated by Robert, who is an antiques expert, opened its two rooms for guests in 2010.

Most of the town has a more modern look, But a few treasures remain. I love the 18th Century clock tower with an wrought iron belfry that stands on the street below the château.

The town has an excellent medical clinic. At one point in the trip I had a bad cold with a rumbling noise in my chest. Oh no I thought. How will I survive a nine hour flight home! Someone coughing for nine hours would be enought to have the entire plane load of passengers on edge. I was able to see a doctor at the medical clinic in the town. Received excellent care, complete with a prescriptions that cured my problems before we left for Canada. France has excellent medical care. No need to sign our house over. Just a relatively small doctor's bill and reasonably priced medications. Merci beaucoup.


Foligno, Umbria



This year we stayed in a different apartment while in Paris. It was a great location on location, on Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin and Boulevard Saint-Martin. Just a few steps from the impressive Porte Saint-Martin. Not only is this an interesting part of Paris, but the nearby Strasbourg Saint-Denis Metro stop is serviced by lines 4, 8 and 9 which made it easy to travel to many areas of Paris. Line 4 is especially handy and runs to the Left Bank.

Our apartment is located in what was formerly a printing press workspace. The presses are gone and the area covered into apartments. The apartment was roomy, no narrow little rooms that are often the case with apartments in the most historic buildings in Paris. The ceiling was total glass with an automatic system that opens and closes windows or open and closes blinds that would cover the glass as we needed. Al


Chiesa Santa Maria del Paradiso


This area of Paris is great for just walking the streets and enjoying being in the city. That has been our experience in the past. Although this was the year of a massive garbage strike in Paris, all was cleaned up for our arrival. How considerate. Above is the Port Saint-Denis, was is two blocks over from our apartment.


Oceanous stands in the Trevi fountain


Paris is always exciting. The Pont Alexandre II is a beautiful bridge at any time of the day, but at night it has a very special character.



Maison Vedene


Our petite maison in Vedène was peaceful and very comfortable. The pool, just a few feet from the door was like being in heaven. We have parking, inside a locked gate, so there is a good feeling of security. In fact, on this trip we had friends of 30 years from Brittany happen to be in the area camping. They parked their camper in the driveway and we had a pleasant visit. It is always amazing. With good friends it may be years between visits, but when you do, you start talking and it is just like you were all together the other day!

  • Towns I visited in Provence - I have complied a page listing of towns that I visited on this trip. All were interesting and within a reasonable drive. Early in the morning in the town, a drive back and a petite-dejuner avec cafe a la maison.

Provence Market Days

Provence market days


It is a full time job to keep track of the market days in the many towns of Provence. Key is to get there early to find parking and the best "finds". The markets generally run from 9 am to 12:30 pm.

  • lundi - noted markets are in Bedoin, Cadenet, Cavaillon and Lauris.

  • mardi - noted markets are in Gordes, (kinown for having the best market in the Luberon district, and Aix-en-Provence (not to be missed), Avignon, Cucuron, Lacoste, La Tour d'Aigues, St Saturnin les Apt and evenings in Lourmarin.

  • mercredi - famous is the the market in Saint-Rèmy-de-Provence, I enjoyed the market there last year, but also notes are Avignon, Gargas, Merindol, Pertuis, St. Martin de Castillon and Sault.

  • jeudi - Roussillon is noted for Thursday. We stayed in Roussillon last year, the town is very scenic. But also markets on this day take place in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Cauymont, Cereste, Goult, L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue, Menerbes and Robion.

  • vendredi - on Fridays the market in Lourmarin is noted, but markets also take place in Avignon and Bonnieux.

  • samedi - the biggest market on Saturdays, outside of Nice, is Apt. There are over 300 market stalls that fill the old town centre. Markets also take place in Aix en Provence, Avignon, Cheval Blanc, Oppede-le-Vieux, Pertu is and Manosque. We loved Manosque when we were there last year. Maybe a Saturday drive is in order.

  • dimanche - we know the place to go on Sunday is Isle-Sur-La Sorgue. We were there last year. It is big, and can be overwhelming. But very scenic and if you can dream it, it is there. The antique market is rated as the largest and best market in Provence and the second-best market in France, followed by Paris. There are also markets in Ansouis, Avignon and Coustellet.


» See more - Provence Drives


Old clock tower in Vedene


The old historic centre of Vedene is just a few minutes away from our maison. This 1750 clock tower was a favorite place. Located on Rue Roumpe Quieu, Vedène.



Marseille - Le Panier

We hope to spend a day in Marseille. A visit to Le Panier area would be one of the highlights.

» More on Marseille




It is time to return to Aix-en-Provence. It is just over an hour's drive from Vedène (84 km). We stayed here on one of our first visits to France just after we were married. The history of Aix-en-Provence captured by its architecture.

With the spread of Christianhity, Aix claimed itself the capital for this area. By 1182 it became the home to the Counts of Provence and growth was around three sites: the Count's Palace, Saint-Sauveur Cathedral and the craft and trades areas. A number of convents were built, including the most famous, the Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de Maitre which later became the burial place of the Counts. The circular wall remains today beginning in the old town of Saint Sauveur. By the 1600s arostpcrats. advisors, magistrates etc settled in the new Mazarin Quarter.

  • The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d’Aix-en-Provence is a national monument. The architecture includes Gothic and Neo-gothic influences, with Roman columns, so be sure to visit the cloister, the baptistery and the bell tower, or simply gaze at the carved doors. Though the interior is decorated with beautiful art, it isn’t overwhelming, and the decor is quite simple in comparison to other famous churches. The Baptristery rotunda, one of the oldest in France, dates to 5th and 6th C. Cathedral has three Naves, most have one.

  • Place de l'Hôtel, is the the main square in front of the city hall 15C. Located in the old section with many photo shots.

  • The city is known from its markets of which some operate every day. There are three distinct market areas. Antiques, crafts, food and flowers all have their place within the historic heart of the city.

  • Food Market (Daily) situated in Place Richelme, a beautiful square near to the Town Hall. Surrounded by restaurants and bars, enjoy a coffee and croissant before browsing all the divine local produce. Open 365 days per year, even on Christmas day, from 8am to 1pm.

  • Everything Market - operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There will be sellers from all over the region. It stretches out through the neighbouring streets and snakes down the iconic boulevard, Cours Mirabeau. at the western end of Cours Mirabeau, by the large Rotonde fountain (the most well-known of all its fountains), the vibe turns distinctly flea market. Traders offer second-hand books, alongside antique chairs and furniture.

  • Flower Market - in the beautiful Place de l’Hôtel de Ville every day of the week except the first Sunday of the month (when it’s the turns into a second-hand book market). It’s one of Aix-en-Provence’s most beautiful squares.




We will, of course visit the town of Avignon, a short distance from our apartment. There is a market every day except Monday. In addition, every Thursday morning, in Place Charles David, market stalls sell everything you would want.

Villeneuve lez Avignon

Villeneuve lez Avignon


Located across the River from Avignon, and in the Occtania Region, this town has interesting sights and not the mass of tourists found in Avignon. It is an old medieval town, and one that grew in importance when the Popes lived in Avignon. Many of the Cardinals established their homes/estates in this town, across the river. A little more out of the eye of the Pope. The Chartreuse de Villeneuve lez Avignon convent is massive with large cloisters. The town itself is well worth a visit.

» Information from our 2022 Visit

More on our possible drives...

There are many towns of interest, all within a reasonable drives. Additional information is found HERE




Beautiful morning light in the town of Castillion-au-Gard.