Well, our trip didn't actually start like that. Or it did, but in a roundabout way!
We've had a dear set of friends for about 20+ years. We met when they moved in next door, and they moved back to their native England about 3 years after that and we've kept up over all the years, going to both their daughters' weddings (one here in the U.S., the other in Bristol, England). So when one of the daughters contacted me about their going on a trip to France to celebrate their dad's 70th birthday, I invited us as a surprise appearance! I think she asked as kind of a joke, but wasn't too surprised when I said it would be super fun!
Since we (mom, dad, 16 yr old) were going to be going all the way "across the pond," it also made sense to "do" a little Germany to help our teenage son lock in some of his German from school. We spent 5 days in Munich, where my husband and I had been several times before. Bavaria is great and Munich is easy to get around. We did some things we hadn't already done. Our younger son is interested in different things than our older one was. We visited the BMW Welt, Olympic Park (esp the indoor soccer facility), Allianz Arena and on a day trip to Salzburg, visited Hangar 7, owned by Red Bull.
Our German portion of the trip was great, and it was cool to hang out in some places drinking a beer and watching Euro Cup soccer. But, then it came time to venture over to France! We'd only ever been to Strasbourg, so it was a real adventure, especially considering that you can't get to where we were going - from anywhere!
The "main" birthday event was for Friday, so we planned to arrive Thursday afternoon. We flew from Munich to Lyon and then rented a car. We were the first to have rented this car, so it took a long minute to figure everything out it in it! My minor in French (from 1,267 years ago) is pretty rusty! I didn't bother with the car's GPS, as I'd put in the destination on my phone.
Our destination was Vallon Pont d'Arc, which is in the Ardèche region. It's located in the southeast part, sort of halfway between Lyon and Marseilles. Avignon is sort of nearby. It's a village of about 2000 people, but it's at the gateway of a natural bridge (the pont d'arc!) and a gorge. It's big area for climbing, biking, kayaking. We stayed in a complex of 7 gîtes, where the rest of the birthday/holidaymakers were staying. We were the only Americans in the birthday group; there were 2 Welsh folk, 5 people from Rep of Ireland, and 8 or so from England.
They had dragged the birthday boy back to the super marché on some pretext when I texted that we were close, and talk about surprised!! It was a highlight of my life to see his face when he walked up and saw us standing there! ~
end of personal part