Friday, 28 June 2013

Day 9: From Nimes to Nice via Avignon and Marseille

Hello fans, I will start with a photo of an awesome French conductor coz I think French conductors are cool, especially this one:
 Since we very much liked Nimes, we decided to spend the next morning exploring Nimes. The most famous sites were the Arène (a Roman-time arena, like a mini-Colosseum), la Maison Carrée – the oldest surviving temple from antiquity or something like that, and the Jardin de la Fontaine, 'The Garden of the Fountain', featuring a scenic tower. A perfect-sized town, and clear attractions, all very close by. 
La Maison Carrée
Best thing about our room: The feel-good-about-yourself-mirror (ie. slimming!!)

We had breakfast (apple-caramel-muffin om nom, CC had a nutella panini) in front of the Arène – impressive but the view of it was blocked by a million lorries – the famous Johnny Halliday, our ongoing joke, was going to be performing there... - Johnny Halliday is this random ass French singer who supposedly took English songs and made French covers of them? In any case, last year me and CC experienced, very amused, the stampede of people running to a Johnny Halliday concert in Lille. The French are obsessed. Lol. - And in this case, there were already people camping in front of the Arène rocking their Johnny Halliday T-shirts and American motorbiker-looks. 
Breakfast OM NOM
The Arena with Johnny Halliday-fans out front
We also just about had time to check out the Fountain Garden – very pretty with its Roman ruins, pretty little gardens and, surprisingly, fountains. We had our backbags with us and I failed to make it to the tower so, both of us disappointed, went back to catch our 13.49 train.

Some awesome ancient monument you were not allowed to "escalade" on
Awesome garden!
Thank you French tourists for patiently waiting for this picture to be taken
Lizard à la CC
Me portraying death
Two white swans and two black... geese? !!
Oh and why did we have so little time in the end? Well, let me have a little rant, and please skip this part if you are expecting only to read about happy travel adventures, because we will dedicate a moment to

FRENCH BANKS (and the French way of doing business in general)

So, as some of you know, I've spent the past year living in the North of France. This trip marks the end of my year, so I had to close my French bank account before leaving Douai, my town. I was able to close it but not get my money out since my final pay check hadn't gone through – I was told to go to a bank in the South, give them the little note the nice lady at Douai-bank had written me, they'll sort it out, give her a quick phone call, she'll give them permission, and I'll get my money. Simple, and I'm sure it would have been simple in any other country than France.

I queued for the general receptionist. She took a while studying it, looking up stuff on the computer, chatting to other customers etc, until she told me that “oh, it's a getting money thing, could you please see my colleagues to the right.”

So I queued to see the colleagues to the right. “Oh no, no, it's you who must call her, not us,” Mr Money Receptionist Colleague said, amusedly shaking his head to my silly young foreign ignorance. “Call her, give her our names, and she'll give you the accord de déclamation.” (or something like that, meaning the permission to give me my money) Well, I felt stupid but I know for a FACT she said that they'd call her, all I had to do was smile sweetly and wait. And in any case, why couldn't they call her, what difference did it make??

Well, left the queue and called the bank lady in Douai. That went quite well, I explained the situation, gave the names etc. She said all's ok.

So I queued to see the colleagues to the right again. Told them it's all good, and they invited me to sit down and wait for the money.

I waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and finally after a nice little gossip and chat amongst themselves, they said it was ready. Got up, went to the thing where he was finally writing the receipt for the money. Yay! “Une pièce d'identité s'il vous plait,” he asked for ID. I gave him my driver's license. Ah no, a driver's license doesn't work in France, I got told. He even phoned the bank lady in Douai, himself this time, to ask. No, driver's license is not enough, he confirmed.

So we walked back to the hostel, picked up my passport and backbags and went back.

So I queued to see the colleagues to the right a third time. This time I got my money. Very relieved, but the whole thing took over an hour longer than I expected. Tomorrow's adventure will be phoning my phone company making sure they're gonna cancel my contract............

Cathedral/church in Avignon
Ok, well, got on the 13.49 train. Off to Avignon, where we had one and a half hours before the next train. Avignon also gets points for good first impression from railway station – the remains of some ancient walls! In the 1300s Avignon was the place where the popes lived, so there was the big castle and loads of remains of the ramparts (some of the only ones remaining in France, love from wikipedia).
Cool bubble-man and thrilled school kids!
Where the popes lived a long time ago
The popes
Walked down the main road, Rue de la République, and bumped into this popey place, an awesome castle and church and... building. Cool views too. Then we had ice creams and so the hour in Avignon was defo worth it.

Next stop was Marseille – the second to biggest city in France, but also the dodgiest. We only had half an hour here, but got to see a magnificent view of the town, the church/castle on a far away hill, and the mountains in the background. MAGNIFICENT is the word. Loads of creepy guys though, so we did conclude that it was a good decision not to stay in Marseille any longer than half an hour.
View from Marseille-train station!!
More Marseille
Next was a three-hour train, but we decided to sit in first class and no one ever complained. Very enjoyable trip with some EPIC scenery, the Mediterranean and mountains and villages on hills, going through places like Cannes... Amazing.

Arrived in Nice at about half eight. Our hostel was a few minute walk away – Hotel Baccarat which actually had a hotelly reception, but a quality hostel atmosphere – they advertised a pasta&wine party this evening for only 3euros, and tomorrow we should be going on a free walking tour with them in the morning. And then in the afternoon (just the two of us): MONACO! Very exciteddd!

Beddybise now,

Bonne nuit


  1. Arvaas, mikä maa tuli mieleeni, kun kirjoitit siitä pankkitouhusta... <3

  2. lol you make me giggle every time!

    Really looking forward to the Monaco entry!

    Lol French bureaucracy finally caught up with you, eh? :P

  3. Did you go Sur le pont d'Avignon? There's a famous French song about it...

  4. Sorry about the bank thing... what can you say. Just the F word. (The country F) ;) :P <3 Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx