Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”– Sir Francis Bacon –
The quote above is incredibly appropriate for anyone wishing to travel and waiting for the right time. There is never going to be a right time. There will always be something else going on. If you want to do it, you have to just do it and commit to going.
When I first booked my solo trip to France, it was scheduled for 2018. Then my business flooded the day of and I canceled my trip about 3 hours before I was supposed to be getting on the plane. It took an entire year to re-plan and organize and prepare to embark on my journey.
It’s now 2020 and I can’t believe another entire year has past since I first set foot on foreign soil in France. Traveling alone as a woman, France is a great first choice to take that leap. And in May of 2019, I finally pushed all the other things to the side, and did just that. If I didn’t jump into, I don’t think I would have ever gone. I know, you can read 100s of blog posts on the internet of people that travel for a living and clearly see from their posts that traveling solo isn’t that big of a deal to them. But it was a huge deal to me. One, I am married. So clearly I am used to doing things with my other half and without him, I was apprehensive. Two, I own a business that requires my constant attention. Three, I was traveling to a country where I barely spoke the language. And four, this was my first time flying across the Atlantic Ocean and my first time on a flight longer than 4 hours….
Embarking on the trip of a lifetime to Provence France
I flew out of Pittsburgh at 3PM to Boston. Leaving Boston around 7PM and landing in Paris around 8AM the next day. Functioning on no sleep, I navigated that airport, which deserves its own blog post, hopped onto another plane to Marseilles arriving in the south of France around 11AM. I rented a little European stick shift car – a Skoda – and set out to see the ocean on the Mediterranean Sea. No matter where I go, I have to see the ocean. This drive was out of my way, but a much needed stop on my itinerary. Going to the end of the land in looking out into the horizon is a must do on all of my journeys if possible.
But, unfortunately, it was raining, so I didn’t stay long and the tiredness was hitting me. I still had an hour drive to my final destination for the day, so I got my sand and prepared to leave.
This was Sausset-les-Pins, France. —
I hopped back into my little European car, which at the time I had no clue how to put in reverse. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to go in reverse. It was a brand new car, so I knew it had to be user error. Rocking back and forth, I was able to coast out of the parking area and head out on my way. Fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have to back up at any point along the way….
1 hour into driving I am now in the Provence area of France. Roads quickly went from busy full size lanes to one and a half of a lane that had to be shared both ways. Often times going down to just one lane in width. French drivers are aggressive in that they will tail your bumper relentlessly. I found that I was consistently pulling to the side to let people pass me. Arriving in the Provence region greeted me with longer stretches of empty roads, less people and the slower pace I was looking for.
Getting closer to my first stop on my solo journey in Provence, France I came up to a bridge that was barely wide enough for my little vehicle. But lo and behold, here comes a tour bus fast approaching me from the other side. I was already on the bridge and they kept coming. I couldn’t back up because, well, I just didn’t know how to. I threw my arms in the air in a panic and eventually the big bus had to back up to let my little car thru. Go figure. I felt awful and was determined to figure out the putting the car in reverse situation.
As soon as I arrived in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, I turned on my data plan and decided learning how to back up the Skoda I was driving was worth wasting some of my data for. Huh, so in Europe they push down on the stick shift, which sinks it down about 1/2 an inch allowing it to get into reverse. New to me. But easy enough. Feeling much more confident to take on the week, I hopped out of the car and spoke French for the first time since arriving in France to check into my room of this super cute B&B. I was awkwardly slow, but it all went well and I was shown to my room at the Hotel du Poete. Here was the view from my room for the night:
The next morning I explored the village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. It was gorgeous and I immediately remembered why I was on this trip. The old buildings, the river running thru this petite village, the massive cliff-side mountain shielding it on the other side and the castle built into it. This was just the beginning of what was going to be the most amazing trip of my life. And what a great place to start it. At the source of the river Sorgue.
Interested in continuing on this journey with me? Day two, part one features the Medieval hilltop village of Goult.