We have spent the last day traveling to the French Countryside to shop vintage flea markets. We are now in Provence and can’t wait to get started!
This is the first in a series of blog posts about our trip to Provence. Later today we will meet our small group and get ready to start our adventure.
Pre-Planning the Trip to the French Countryside
Planning a trip to Provence, especially to shop the antique flea markets and brocantes, can be time-consuming. Unless you let an expert do the planning for you.
My best friend Maryliz (who works with me full-time) and I decided to take this trip last year. For quite some time I have been following Tracey Leber at French Larkspur and admiring the trip flea market shopping trips she hosts in Provence. They always looked like an incredible experience and I have been wanting to go for quite some time.
It only made sense to book our trip with Tracey! Right? Why not leave all of the planning to an expert? So Tracey did all of the planning and all we had to do was make our travel arrangements to Marseilles.
How easy was that?
On Sunday, we flew British Airways from LAX and traveled non-stop to London. Then we flew BA to Marseilles. Total flying time was about 14 hours, with a two-and-a-half-hour layover in London.
Sounds easy, right?
A Few Surprises
I have traveled a lot as I was a corporate event planner for years. I have lifetime priority status on American Airlines (which is not really a good thing … because I had to travel a gazillion times to get that status), so you would think I would be knowledgeable and never have surprises while traveling.
The first surprise was traffic at LAX. Not just regular LA traffic, but terrible traffic. Like the day before Thanksgiving traffic at LAX that we all try to avoid. On Sunday we experienced the kind of traffic that can take one hour to drive about half a mile along the circle at LAX airport.
This, of course, led to a lot of frantic (and late) travelers inside the airport too and it was extremely hectic.
Two things saved us from missing our flight. Normally I would arrive at the airport two hours before an international flight. But Maryliz thought we should arrive closer to three hours before. In hindsight, her idea was brilliant given the craziness of how long it took us to just get inside the airport!
Without the extra hour, we likely would have missed our flight.
Airport security was also a nightmare as there were hundreds and hundreds of people in line to clear through security in the International terminal.
Fortunately, we both had TSA Precheck and there were two people in that line.
The TSA Precheck probably saved us at least an hour. At least.
Packing for the Trip
Many of you have asked about packing for our trip.
What to Pack
Obviously, I always check the weather at my destination before I pack. As we got closer and closer to our departure date, the temperatures kept rising. Average daytime highs are supposed to be in the mid-nineties this week! At least the evening temperatures will be cooler.
Because of the heat, all of the clothes I packed for the trip are cotton and linen. There is a slight chance of rain so I also ordered the cutest light pink raincoat. It arrived last week and I love it. But there is one problem, it smelled like petroleum.
How to Get a Bad Smell Out of New Clothes
Don’t laugh but the smell was awful. I tried washing it, soaking it in dishwashing liquid, and more. But nothing worked.
I finally soaked the raincoat overnight in OxyClean and Arm & Hammer Pet Deodorizer. It worked! There is still a tiny odor but nothing like it was when it arrived!
I also packed some travel essentials such as a hat, a backpack, and a fanny pack. (And some packing tape to use for packing up things I buy this week!)
I brought one very large empty suitcase and put the midsized matching suitcase (with all of my belongings) inside. This will allow me to have a large empty suitcase to bring home some of my flea market finds. I carried on a backpack and the carry-on size of the matching suitcase which had two days of clothing and essentials in case our luggage was delayed.
Our luggage arrived on time but we did run into a snag in London. When we were going through security to fly to Marseilles, France, we were told our carry-on liquid items had to fit inside a sealed medium-sized Ziploc bag. Wait, what? This was new news. I promise this information was not listed anywhere!
When I was packing my toiletries, I was more concerned with keeping my liquids at 3 oz. or less. I wasn’t focused on making sure they all fit in a medium-sized Ziploc bag.
This was a huge issue at security as a lot of people were having to throw away the liquids that didn’t fit in the plastic bag! I was lucky, as I managed to fit everything but a tube of toothpaste. Others were less fortunate and very unhappy and were begging the TSA officers to let them take all of their expensive makeup and skincare. It was quite a scene.
My advice is to pack as many of your toiletries in your checked baggage.
One last tip about the London airport. They have a shuttle system to the other terminals if you have a connecting flight at Heathrow. The shuttle to our terminal took twenty minutes. Then to get to our gate, the walk was another twenty minutes.
So don’t be sad if you have a layover that is two hours. you will need every minute!
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The French Countryside
All in all, it’s been pretty easy traveling. We stayed at an airport hotel last night in Marseilles and Tracey (and her husband) are picking us up this morning and then we will be driving for about an hour and a half to the apartment where we will be staying all week.
And then the fun and shopping begins!
Tomorrow I will likely have a gazillion photos to share!
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