Editor’s Note: We started on this International Love Affair tour to celebrate the release of our fourth book, Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World. Subscribe to get the inside scoop of each destination in Europe (plus the behind-the-scenes stories that never makes it to this blog.)
After a busy few days of fun and sun in Valencia, we were looking forward to the quieter romance of Provence as stop #2 on the International Love Affair tour. On most destinations of this book tour we have people to meet, activities scheduled, and a general idea of what we’ll be doing.
But in Provence? Nada. Or, I guess I should say, rien.
We weren’t even booked in a hotel. It was a simple AirBnB apartment in a small town where we’d be totally on our own. Sounds low-key and sexy, doesn’t it? I could just imagine us lazing the morning away in bed, bicycling around vineyards, and eating delicious bread and cheese with our wine.
I visualized everything through the perfect light that comes from this part of the world, and I couldn’t wait for us to live out our own romantic movie from Provence.
But it didn’t start out that way…
For as long as we’ve been traveling, we should have known better. But we stayed out late the night before at a very fun club with new friends, and the alarm sounded way too early in the morning. Our travel day was a comedy of errors, with us almost missing our morning train due to poor planning. We went to the wrong station…twice.
Once we figured out our mistakes, we made it just in time to board our train. We were sweaty and stressed from running around at 8 a.m., which is not how the love story in our heads was supposed to start.
The train journey was beautiful, and when we arrived in Nimes, France, we were supposed to change trains. But Warren checked the schedule and thought we could go directly to Avignon and then change trains, saving us an hour and a half. We high-fived it, staying on the train despite what the ticket agent told us to do.
Guess what? That high speed train didn’t stop in Avignon. We had to watch it as we zoomed past it and then pay for another seat reservation to backtrack, adding over an hour to our original journey and costing us another $25.
Romance? Yeah, we were thinking it. But we certainly weren’t feeling it.
What We Learned About Love in Provence
Have you heard of the book titled One Year in Provence? A couple saves the money to move from their busy lives in England to the slower pace of Provence. Restoring a 200-year-old farmhouse and embracing a less hectic lifestyle where the days weren’t as important as the seasons, this couple found a new way of living.
I was thinking about this book as we finally pulled into the train station. It was covered with construction fencing and plywood, and were worried we picked a bad location on top of every other wrong move we’d made that day.
But as we walked across the train tracks and through the gate, we were greeted with small cafes, trees, and benches. People were out walking around in the evening, and the cafes were full of people enjoying a late-day coffee or glass of wine.
We arrived at our cute little apartment rental, complete with giant wooden shutters we had to latch with iron hooks to close, and we starting feeling the quaint charm of Provence. I remember how we felt when we first left on our world travels in 2010 and it took us about a month in Ecuador to finally shake off our old routines and prepare for something new.
After writing the book and buying the house in Spain, plus the stress of planning and starting a book tour that is light-speed compared to our usual pace of travel, this stop in Provence felt like a mini version of that moment in Ecuador.
Breathe in, breathe out. Let the manufactured stress go. Enjoy the moment.
We’re done with the heavy lifting for the first part of this year. It’s time to shake off the stress, appreciate what we’ve accomplished, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. In a tour about romance, we almost let the stress win.
Thankfully we wised up, and we were able to experience quite a few items on our Romance Bucket List in Provence, like:
- A hike in the hills
- Two picnics – one in Avignon on the steps to a 15th century church and one in the hills after a nice walk
- Checking out a flea market together
- People watching at an outdoor cafe
It’s all a matter of perspective, and what Provence taught us was that we can choose the pace of our lives and relationship no matter what’s going on around us. We set the priority, and just because something feels urgent doesn’t mean it’s important.
That first night in our loft bedroom with wood beam ceilings, we promised to live in the moment, not regret decisions of the past or worry about the future. It might not be a Year in Provence, but it can be a Year of Romance…at least until our next annual love contract negotiation.