Our neighbour had invited us to view his new crib in the hills of Altea near Benidorm. And as we also wanted to visit France and Barcelona, we decided to make the trek south by car and organise a roadtrip from France to Spain.
France: disaster in Scey-sur-Saône
Our first top was at La Ferme des Vikings, a B&B in Scey-sur-Saône in the hinterland of the Franche-Comté region. The hotel is housed in an 18th-century stone dwelling, and it looked extremely charming in the photo. But what an enormous disappointment it turned out to be. The attic room we were given was very large but had no windows, and I immediately felt claustrophobic. I just knew I wasn’t going to sleep a wink that night. And to make things worse, the vicar of the church across the street thought it helpful to ring the bell every fifteen minutes! We had booked for two nights, but checked out after one. It was nice of them to not charge us for the second night. And besides, there wasn’t much to do in the area anyway.
South of France itinerary
Luckily, our next hotel was available a day early. And Hotel La Suite more than made up for the previous day’s disaster. The six rooms in this beautifully restored house are decorated extremely tastefully. Every detail has been carefully considered. The owner is (rightfully) very proud of his hotel, although that meant he kept a close eye on the kids at all times. And so we asked for that very expensive giraffe (his words) to be removed from our room for the duration of our stay.
And Villeneuve-lez-Avignon is a top location. You five minutes from Avignon, and in the evening you can enjoy the peace of the charming historical city centre. The garden also features a nice swimming pool for you to relax in after your day out.
Explor Avignon and surroundings
Village des Bories
There is lots to see in this region. If you are travelling with kids, be sure to visit the Village des Bories . They will certainly love these miniscule beehive-like huts. The building technique dates back to the Neolithic, but the Bories you find here were inhabited from the 16th to the start of the 20th century.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a pittoresque village with the source of the Sorgue as its main attraction. This is the most powerful spring of France. The underground river carries 90,000 litres per second.
The river powers the Moulin a Papier where paper has been hand-made in the same tradition since the 15th century.
The village was also where the poet Petrarca lived and worked. Walk to the spring, and watch how local youths dive into the river from a great height.
Pont du Gard
.And of course, you must visit Pont du Gard. This historic bridge belongs in every South of France itinerary. The Romans viewed this bridge as proof of the might of their empire 2000 years ago. At 48m tall, it was the highest bridge they ever built. They put the blocks on top of each other using an ingenious system of pulleys and the help of an army of slaves. The aqueduct brought water 50km along the way. It is still an impressive bit of architecture and a great spot for photographs.
And stop off at a local vineyard during your drive – they produce a wonderful rosé in Tavel.
Just before you enter Avignon you get a great view of Pont Saint- Bénézet. This 12th-century bridge was almost fully destroyed during floods in 1668. One of the remaining arches features the small Chapel of St. Nicolas.
The bridge is well-known because of the children’s rhyme “Sur le Pont d'Avignon”. People did in fact not dance on the bridge, but rather on an island below it. Through time “sous” was changed to “sur”.
The historical centre of Avignon is enclosed by a 4km-long wall. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list ever since 1995. The city gets its nickname “city of popes ” from the 14th-century Palais des Papes. The building is in excellent condition but all the furniture and art has been destroyed or stolen throughout the centuries.
All the way in the south lie the wetlands of the Camargue. This nature reserve encompasses the delta of the Rhone and contains 140,000 ha of marshes, fields, dunes and salt plains. It is best known for its wild horses, bulls and flamingos.
Be sure to book a boat tour to enjoy the area at leisure.
My husband has been (jokingly) saying for years how much he really wants to go to Benidorm. I discovered a great spot when I was looking for a hotel near Altea. On the hill above Benidorm lies the Villaitana Golf Resort. The hotel is part of the Melia Group, was built as a small village and has a wonderful view of Benidorm’s skyline. And for those interested, it has two golf courses.
We made a brief visit to downtown Benidorm, but were very happy to be back atop our mountain. My husband can tick Benidorm off his bucket list!
We drove around the area for a day, and it has to be said, there are some charming villages nearby. But it is just too much like Belgium / the Netherlands, especially along the coast.
We made our annual stop in Barcelona on the way back. We met our Burgundian friends and had an unforgettable afternoon. This was just one of those memorable days.
We visited Camp Nou for the soccer fans among us. Be sure to try and arrange tickets beforehand as the queue at the register there can be verrrrrrry long.
Read here about the TOP 10 things to do in Barcelona.
And then was unfortunately time to go home again after a heavenly holiday.
Did you visit Avignon, Benidorm or Barcelona and discovered something fun? Share it in the comments below.
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