On Monday October 10 we drove from Aix en Provence to the amazingly interesting city of Avignon located on the banks of the River Rhone. Le Palais des Papes is one of the amazing architectural marvels of France. Built during the “schism” between Rome and France in the 14th century, when the French declared Avignon to be the correct seat for the Pope and their Pope to be the legitimate one, Benedict XII in 1342 and built a magnificent palace for him and his successors which was enlarged over the subsequent years up to the last Pope there in 1394
but then fell into disuse and finally after the French Revolution was used to house soldiers. A massive and on going restoration has reclaimed much of the grandeur of it’s past but I found most of it to be stark stone walls and stairways up and down. It is so massive that one cannot capture all of it in one photo or even a number of them but I will add a few of mine to give you an idea of the place. After we finished our visit to the Palais my daughter and I stumbled into the lovely Eglise St. Pierre to my mind much more beautiful and serene than the Palais.
Our lunch was at the fantastic Restaurant des Teinturiers which, as it’s name suggests was formerly a neighborhood where tanners and those who dyed cloth worked. The restaurant was small but the food was terrific! My daughter and I shared a delightful feuillete’ of egg plant with sepe mushrooms and foie gras and then we both had one of the daily specials medallions of porc with spinach and potatoes and both the entre’ and the main dishes were bursting with flavor. Of course a lovely bottle of Provence wine complemented the food and to my surprise, a delicious cheese plate and a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venice red wine followed and presaged a lovely dessert but ha, right now I cannot remember exactly what the dessert was!!! All in all a wonderful lunch in Avignon.
Our final excursion of the day took us to the amazing Roman aqueduct and the adjacent Pont du Gard over the Rhone River. The aqueduct was used for centuries to being fresh water from the mountains to Avignon and beyond. It is an amazing architectural marvel built 2000 years ago and still standing today. Our day was completed with a return to Avignon and our lodging for the night at Hotel d’Europe just steps from the River Rhone and Porte de L’Oulle one of the ancient gates through the walls of old Avignon which still surrounds the city to this day.