Saturday, May 30, 2009


FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2009 – 134/11 – SALON de PROVENCE, FRANCE

Today, we move on to France. First we return to the Duomo in hopes of getting in (fat chance, the line is again hundreds of people long 30 minutes before the church opens), so we head to our second choice, Basilica di San Lorenzo,

Florence’s first church and the parish church of the Medici family. It is not much to look at from the outside, but the Medici’s lavished their wealth on the church’s interior adornment. It was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in 1419, but the exterior façade was never finished.Michelangelo designed the interior façade and Cosimo Vecchio, founder of the Medici family is buried under a stone slab before the high altar.

We then get our car back and head out of Florence with a goal of Provence in France, maybe Avignon. We head up the A11 and A12 toll roads to Genova, along the Italian Riviera, then into France with glimpses of the beautiful coastline, but with nowhere to stop for a picture. It is pushing 05:00PM and we are ready to stop so we pick Salon de Provence, north of Marseilles.

We make a very expensive decision and elect to stay at the Abbaye de Saint Croix on a hilltop north of Salon for two nights. This restored 12th-century abbey sits in a prominent position with views of delightful Provencal landscapes. The original Romanesque architecture houses 21 rooms and 4 suites. We are tired and want a slow day tomorrow and the site of the facility is spectacular but is ultimately not worth the price and we definitely do not get what we expect for the price.

Our room sports a small, enclosed flower garden sitting area but no working A/C though the guidebook says it has A/C. One must understand that it is not June 1 yet and, by law, it is not hot in France until after June 1 and therefore you do not need A/C! For what it is worth, at 02:00AM our room was 77degrees! They do give us a fan when we complain and fortunately it was not too humid.

In addition, the hotel boasts a fine French cuisine restaurant where we eat this first night of our stay. The food is very good but scanty in quantity and we can now say that we have tried the famous food of Provence. OK, we have been there and done that and will pass next time. It is way too fancy and expensive and not filling enough for these Texas people.

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