After spending a night in London, I was ready to embark on my next adventure—a detour to Avignon before going to my final destination (Paris). The high speed train to Avignon is approximately six hours from London’s St. Pancras International. Knowing I would be sitting for that long, I decided to get a premiere standard seat. I was, in fact, willing to splurge and tried to purchase the business premiere (I promised to spoil myself in this trip 😜) but too bad they were all sold out!
There are three direct routes to Avignon from London weekly (Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays), otherwise you’d have to stop in Paris and transfer from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Not exactly what I wanted to do.
My seat was facing another seat and fortunately no one showed up or we would be touching toes the entire trip. The train was half empty which made it a relaxing trip. As I settled comfortably in my seat, the stewards brought my petit dejeuner—a tray with croissants, jam, yogurt, bottled water, and tea. Trains are so much more enjoyable than airplanes, unless of course you fly first or business class and it’s unfortunate we don’t have the option of high speed trains in the United States!
I wanted to stay awake, hoping I wouldn’t miss the beautiful scenery outside. But jet lag took control of my body and ended up snoozing pretty much the entire time. I was awoken by the sound of the cart being pushed around. “Madam, would you like cheese bake or chicken?” the steward asked me. I was getting lunch too??? I thought the meal service ended with the breakfast! The $185 (one-way) I paid for this ticket was definitely worth it. In fact, it’s much cheaper than most one way plane tickets within the United States! (It cost us over $800 round trip from Dallas to Hawaii and all we got were peanuts and drinks for eight hours!)
I chose the more familiar dish (chicken) since I don’t know what a cheese bake is. Bristish food perhaps? The chicken actually tasted good! The lunch also came with a choice of wine—red, white, or rosé—but I opted out from drinking anything that’ll put me back to sleep.
I checked my watch and we were two hours away from destination. I thought of the time I went to visit my friend Michel in Avignon twenty-something years ago. I met him on a New York flight I worked as a flight attendant and we kept in touch by exchanging letters. Since then he’s moved to a different house, broke up with Alain (the partner he was with at the time), met Jacques (but unfortunately cancer took his life), then met another man (whom he is currently married), and has traveled the world (he was in Nepal during the massive earthquake in 2010). I wondered if we would recognize each other when we see each other at the TGV station.
I decided to go to Avignon because I wanted to see Michel again. Also, I didn’t get to see much of the Provence region when I went. My cousin came with me and she insisted on going to Nice and Monaco as well. Big mistake. That’s what happens when you travel with other people—you get easily manipulated by their plans and you often give up what you wanted to do. That’s why I’m doing this solo travel, because it’s time for me to do what I want to do.
When I arrived in Avignon, I immediately spotted Michel waiting on the platform. He told me I haven’t changed much (I’ll take that as a compliment 😊). He introduced me to his partner/husband whose name is also Michel. He didn’t speak much English but thank God for google translation! We arrived at their house and fell in love with its Provençal themed decor (it’s at least how I envisioned a home in the Provence region—warm, cozy, colorful, and charming). I felt right at home.