We are at the most impressive, historic and interesting city of Avignon, unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the year 2000 European City of Culture and in 2007 was given the distinction of European Heritage too, and one can easily see why. It is one of those magical places where every time you turn a corner there is a treasure to discover, may it be a building, a sculpture or, quite simply, a medieval cobbled street. There is so much to see and do that the difficulty lies in what to do first.
We arrived at the very convenient and pleasant Camping Bagatelle on Monday morning, early enough to cross the Pont Daladier to be greeted by the marvellous view of the Palais des Papes (The Palace of the Popes), the huge statue of the Virgin Mary on top of Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral, the city walls and, of course, the world famous Pont d’Avignon, or Pont de St Bénezet. We just wanted to get a feel of the place first and stroll through the old town and along the city walls before lunch and in the afternoon we simply walked along the river.
On Tuesday morning, we visited the magnificent Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in the world and the seat of 9 Popes during the XIV century. The 12 Euro ticket includes an Avignon Pass that allows for discounts on visits to other sites for 15 days, as well as a tablet with audio guide for your visit to the Palace and I had great fun looking for the ‘portals’ to scan with the tablet to access the information about the significance, history and contents of each room. Apart from the permanent displays, there was also an exhibition of very interesting African Art. We spent two very enjoyable and informative hours here and I feel very strongly this is a ‘must-visit’ attraction for all visitors to the city.
We walked back to the campsite along the City Walls, 4.3 km long encircling the entire city, built between 1359 and 1370, and still in excellent condition. They were built when Pope Clement V fled Rome and established his seat in Avignon.
After lunch, we intended to visit the Musée Angladon, where works by Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne and Picasso among others are exhibited, but unfortunately, it is closed until February. What a shame! Instead, we thought we might as well go and do what this city is most famous for: a walk on the Pont d’Avignon. Here, there is also a little information centre with films explaining how the bridge could have been built in the middle ages, using techniques of the time and why it was built, including the legend of St Bénezet. Well, I admit: I sang the song and I danced the dance!
After all that walking and exertions, we needed some good nourishment, so we made our way to Le Cèdre (6 Rue Rempart du Rhône), a very special Lebanese restaurant where we enjoyed a most delicious meal of Mezzes and grilled food, more than we could eat, with very friendly and welcoming staff too, and I would highly recommend it. I will say here I am not a tea drinker, but I loved that Lebanese tea that came with my set menu: very refreshing and like nothing I’d ever tasted before.
This morning, we visited Le Petit Palais Museum, where we marvelled at the superb collection of Italian paintings from the XIII-XVI centuries, including Botticelli, Carpaccio and Giovanni di Paolo, as well as sculptures dating from XII century: absolutely amazing and another ‘must-see’ in Avignon.
We have taken this afternoon off to do some chores in the van (washing, etc) and tomorrow we’d like to visit the Calvet Museum, which exhibits works of Art from XV to XX century.
Before coming to Avignon, we stopped for 2 days at pretty Fontvieille, where I was very surprised and pleased to discover it is twinned with Beas de Segura in Jaén, my father’s village and where the Rosales family come from and many of them still live. Isn’t it a marvellous coincidence! I had no idea whatsoever of this fact and I feel it is the work of angles that we should have found it without even knowing of its existence (strange forces at work, me thinks).
The village is famed for its windmills, especiaIly the Moulin de Daudet, made famous by the writer and dramatist Alphonse Daudet, born in Nimes, Gard Department. The motorhome aire was right below this attractive windmill and there is a lovely dog walk in the surrounding area through the pine woods.
Another attraction here is Le Château de Montauban, but this is also closed until the spring. Fontvieille is definitely a lovely stop for motorhomes and the aire is beautifully located, surrounded by cliffs and pine woods. It costs 6.50E a day, but there is no electricity and there is an extra charge for water, but still very pleasant for a couple of days.
Adonis’s just come back from an evening stroll with some stunning images of the Palace and Bridge in the golden light of the setting sun: enjoy!