Sur le pont ... et les autres lieux
29.12.2011 - 31.12.2011 11 °C
The TGV trip down from Paris took 2 hours 40 minutes and, as we travelled closer to Avignon, we could see the start of the Alps with some snow on the mountains in the distance to the east. After taking a shuttle bus from the train station to the historic city centre, we encountered the famous wind from those mountains which is known as "the Mistral". It was freezing but we eventually found our way through the narrow streets to our hotel near to the ramparts beside the Rhone river.
After a short wander around the old city centre before dark, we had our first Provençal dining experience. This was quite different from our previous regional meals in Bourgogne with a definite Mediterranean influence across the menu selections. The wines are also probably a little more familiar to Australian palates with the inclusion of Syrah (Shiraz) in the Côte du Rhone reds. I've been doing as much voluntary work as possible for the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée people and everything seems in order.
The following day, we went "sur le pont ..." and also spent quite a long time visiting the Palais des Papes which dates from the times when the men in charge of the Roman Catholic church used to wield their power from Avignon. It would seem that they lived like royalty, immersed themselves in arcane theological matters and generally lived well away from the smell of the common man ... not a lot seems to have changed in relation to the way these guys conduct themselves. With regard to "le pont", it was constructed earlier than the palace based on advice received from angels by a local shepherd boy (Saint Bénézet) who proved his divine powers by miraculously lifting a really big rock. It's quite amazing what can result from a touch of schizophrenia and/or some form of medieval substance abuse.
In the evening, we dined at a locally recommended place named Au Tout Petit. It's the kind of name that you would give an imaginary French restaurant in a language lesson but it was actually a very good little establishment.
After packing up, picking up the hire car and checking out, we drove on to our next stop to spend New Year's Eve in a pretty little town called L'Isle sur La Sorgue.