One of the best decisions we made on this trip (and one of the most important pieces of advice I have for travelers) was getting hotels/apartments that were in central locations and/or close to the sites we were going to spend the majority of our time in. This would apply to both domestic and international travelers, and it makes the world of difference. Seriously. If you’re in a bigger city and have two different sections you’d like to explore, I might also recommend getting two different hotels/apartments and split your stay in half. It is so worth the convenience and the potential extra few dollars.
Some of the bonuses are:
- If you’re tired and need a break, the hotel is just a short walk a way.
- If you need a bathroom break and there are no public restrooms nearby, there are no emergencies or accidents
- You can refill water bottles easily (assuming you’re in a country where tap water is safe to drink) and save lots of money (not tempted to purchase expensive water bottles)
- If you forget something, it’s not a big deal to go back.
- If you spill all over yourself, step in a mud puddle, etc. going for a change of clothes is not an inconvenience.
- You can travel light and don’t have to over prepare and carry around stuff you probably won’t need (because of all the first points)
- You don’t waste a lot of time commuting
- You don’t need a car
- Lots of other points, but I think you get the gist.
So, after finishing up after our delicious tartine lunch, we headed to the hotel to come up with a plan for the rest of the day. We stayed at Hôtel Mignon, a quiet hotel just a few blocks from the center of town. It was simple and tiny (as most European hotels seem to be), but once again the employees were incredibly sweet, hospitable, and very helpful. We were greeted with a cheerful bon jour every time we entered and bid a bon journée every time we departed. The tiny-ness of the places we stayed in always caught me off guard, but it made sense when I thought of it. These buildings are old, old spaces were much smaller because they had to be. Building was expensive and smaller spaces and tightly knit cities/buildings meant more room for more people plus everything would be closer and more convenient, especially since everything needed to be within walking distance 100+ years ago. I love the quaintness and simplicity of these old towns, though I did find the smallness of this Avignon hotel bathroom somewhat hilarious; the toilet was crammed in the corner and part of the lid had to be cut off so that it would stay propped up. Jesse had planned on doing laundry in the sink at some point on the trip, though he was beginning to see just how impossible that would be (bring lots of undies when traveling!). The showers were also just small squares, less than 3ftx3ft in size. Oddly enough, most of the French bathe but most of the hotels have showers. Another fun fact is the way the floors/levels are labeled in buildings. Our hotel room was on the 2nd floor, which in the USA refers to the first level reached when climbing the stairs (our floors are labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). In much of Europe, however, the ground floor is its own unique floor, and each additional level has a numbered name (Ground, 1, 2, 3, 4). So, our room was, by USA standards, on the 3rd floor and by French standards, the 2nd floor. Anyway, after pouring over the map and guidebook in our cute little room at Hotel Mignon, we headed out to explore the town.