Tuesday September 19 – Avignon

Maison Boussingaul B&B, Avignon: 43°56’45.4″N 4°48’12.3″E

(39 Rue Boussingault, 84000 Avignon, France)

We were up early again this morning and had breakfast with Bruce and Barb at the B&B. Piccolo, the house cat, joined us for breakfast & claimed Bruce’s seat cushion as soon as it hit the floor because his (Piccolo’s) was wet from being in the rain the night before.

John Paul is an excellent host and served us another delicious breakfast. Today Catherine and I plan to explore Avignon while Bruce and Barb were getting ready to do a bit of driving and visit Gordes, a picturesque mountain village about 30 minute drive away.

Catherine and I walked into the old city in search of a nearby residential area where a stream ran past the front of houses. At one time there were 23 water wheels on the stream that were providing “power” to the fabric industry looms.

Our next stop is to visit the main public market in the center of the city. This is a very large indoor market with a couple of dozen food stalls selling cheese, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, bread, pastries and prepared foods – fantastic!

I wish our market in London was like that. While we were there Catherine bumped into John Paul who was there shopping for some of our breakfast foods for the next morning – including a special type of Camembert cheese that he wanted with us to try with his homemade jam.

The market also had a “living wall” on the side of the building facing a public square. By coincidence, the day that we were visiting was also a flea market set up in the public square.

There were lots of vendors there selling small antiques, books, jewelry and a whole variety of other things. We browsed through the flea market but everything that I found interesting was way too big to bring home.

We stopped for lunch at a small café nearby and Catherine had a really nice quiche that she shared with me and I had an espresso.

After lunch we walked up the hill to the Papal Palace which overlooks the city. There was a tourist “train” parked outside the entrance to the palace – similar to the one we took in Beziers a few days ago, but this one was shorter. Uncle Bud, you might have a good chance a driving this one – I’ll call it the CPR (Catholic Pope Railway). You can show them your CV as a professional CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) engineer & they might “fast-track you into a senior position .

The Catholic Church relocated the Papacy from Rome to Avignon from 1309 to 1377. They were motivated to do this because the church wanted protect the area south of the Rhône River which was considered to be Papal territory and the north side of the Rhône River was considered to be France.

In 1378 the church chose to return the Pope to Rome for “political” reasons.  However, the Palace Palace in Avignon remained an important part of the Catholic Church for the next 300 years.

We didn’t bother taking the tour inside the palace because there were pretty long lines to get in and by that time we were beginning to be “museumed out”. Instead we decided to climb a bit higher up the mountain to get some fantastic views of the city and the Rhône River below.

We also found a very quiet cafe in the park overlooking the city. A great place to stop for a rest in a cool drink.

After relaxing break we walked back down the mountain and eventually found our way back to the B&B. Early in the evening we had a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant with Bruce and Barb to celebrate our holiday together. Sadly, this was our last night together in France.

Tomorrow Catherine and I leave for Lyon. Bruce & Barb will stay in Avignon for another day & then head back to Paris for their flight home.