We were truly sad to leave Avignon. It was the perfect first peek into Provence and so rich in historical significance that we would have loved to stay a bit longer and delve a bit deeper.
But our itinerary said it was time to say au revoir, so we had one last dinner at a small restaurant called La Fourchette, which serves authentic Provencal cuisine (meaning the menu was dangerous – even I know enough French to realize the word pied on a menu indicates the braising of some poor creature’s foot). We ended up having the most wonderful Beef Daube outside of Marie-Christine’s kitchen.
As we left the restaurant to walk back to our hotel, I spied something on the sidewalk – someone’s wallet! We went back into our restaurant and the one next to it to try to locate the owner, but no one recognized the name on the ID card. So we returned to our hotel and did some phone and Internet sleuthing and eventually received a call from the lobby that the wife of the wallet-dropper was there to collect it. We went to sleep full of good Provencal food and happy to have done a good deed.
Next morning, we packed and headed to the car rental agency – yes, we were about to commence driving through Provence!
But zere eez zees leeeeteeel probleme: instead of the car we thought we’d reserved, we were assigned a teensy hatchback where all our luggage would be visible and vulnerable to potential theft. Worse yet, the GPS unit we had requested had been stolen from the car (probably along with the previous renter’s luggage, we surmised…) Zeees was NOT good!
This is the kind of situation for which the CE lives and breathes. He does a little dance I believe he learned from his successful salesman father. It’s the one-two step of charm and persistence. And by persistence, I mean that my husband all but velcro-ed himself to the poor soul who happened to be the manager of EuropeCar in Avignon. Every time she looked around, he had come back to the counter, always with that toothy smile but never, never, ever, giving up. As ALWAYS happens in these cases, fifteen minutes later and – voila! – suddenly we are driving away in a Mercedes sedan instead of that piece-of-doo-doo we were assigned. And, to seal the deal, as the CE was lurking at the counter badgering the car rental manager, a British couple stopped by to turn in their car and – you guessed it – a GPS unit, which was immediately bestowed upon the CE, probably in a desperate ploy to get rid of him. Whatever the reason, off we drove in our Mercedes, with Ms. Know-It-All Garmin at the ready. I’d like to think it was our reward for returning that fellow’s wallet the night before.
Within twenty minutes, the CE had succumbed to the irresistible charms of that temptress, the Garmin lady. She had led us through multiple roundabouts and cloverleafs, warned us of speed cameras and pointed us steadily in the right direction, always with the same, sultry yet confident tone of voice. The CE was absolutely smitten. Never mind me sitting in the passenger seat with all my maps; he had eyes – or at least ears – only for that Garmin floozie! How dare they!
He went so far as to declare his undying love for her. She was sleek. She carried no baggage. She asked for no long-term commitment. She had him in the palm of her, uh, motherboard, I guess.
Until (and oh how I relished this moment!) little Ms. Perfect suddenly stuttered that she had “Lost Satellite Reception”. And then tries to cover up her dismal failure with a lot of “Recalculating”…”Recalculating”…”Recalculating”.
Suddenly I was looking pretty good over there riding shotgun with my maps. And yes, I was the one who saved us a world of hurt by taking the #39 exit instead of the #36 exit. Admit it, CE, I was right, wasn’t I?
And that is how we arrived at our next breathtaking destination, the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche.
to be continued…