|Market in Gordes|
I discovered the Home Away website, where I searched hundreds of apartments all over Provence. I started with Marseille because it is central, bigger than many of the other places, and on the coast. I found one apartment near the old port, but when I inquired about the price for two months, the owner raised the price substantially because Marseille is the site of a cultural celebration all next year. I'll let her find another renter.
Then I found another apartment in Marseilles, much nicer than the first one and for a similar price. I was about ready to sign the contract but decided to check out the neighborhood on Google Earth. I just love the feature that allows you to virtually walk the streets of a neighborhood, but even more so now that it saved me from making a big mistake. Every surface of every wall in that neighborhood is completely covered in graffiti! Even if it is safe, I'm certain that it would be very depressing to walk those streets every day.
Another town that I have never visited but always been intrigued by is Aix-en-Provence, just a short bus ride inland from Marseille. The original old town is still there; the new town has just been built all around the old town. The birthplace and home of Paul Cezanne, Aix (pronounced EX) is an artist's kind of town.
It didn't take long to find an apartment in Aix - just one block from the Cours Maribeau, where everyone wants to hang out. It has a complete kitchen, and the washer and dryer will be a huge money-saver. You can see photos here. I found out that it is important to contact the owners for a price quote. Many were much higher than advertised; this one was much lower for the long rental.
Before I committed to this one, I checked apartments all over Provence. This one was definitely the best deal. The deposit is paid and the contract signed, so there is no backing out.
|Ochre cliffs at Rousillon|
I am checking various websites weekly for a good rate on the planes tickets. As always, I don't have enough miles with any airline to fly free, but this one should put me over the top for the next trip. Today I found out that I can do a side trip to Portland, Oregon, to visit my kids for less than $100 extra. A flight to Portland alone is about $450, so that is something I will definitely consider.
I am working on the language: reading, writing, listening , and pronouncing. I jump around from Rosetta Stone to old videos of French in Action on YouTube (I've got the book.) I have French for Dummies and French Made simple. If I make through all of these, I've got a box full of cassettes. I also get regular posts from Marie Claire's online magazine in French.
|Pont du Gard|
I'm really excited about the chance to travel without the pressure of moving around all the time with luggage, searching for hotel deals, catching trains. I may even hop on the bullet train for the three hour trip to Paris for a few nights. I love beginnings - the possibilities are endless!
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