Date
September 28th, 2019
Author
Kay

28 September 

Well, no knock at the door - good!

This morning went for a walk to where we had been parked last night, no fisherman, no trailers arrived this morning - so don’t understand why the lady suggested we move. Also when talking to her, it meant lots of little flying things came into Dave, along with a mossie buzzing past my ear. Didn’t stop searching until I had evidence of his dead body!

Last nights eventual spot
Last nights eventual spot

We also wonder if the person who left a review of the Aire on park4night was having a laugh. Tintin checked it out this morning, looked lovely, no Roma or rubbish - maybe they wanted the place to themselves?!

Tintin driving today for less than an hour. Wanted to visit both Avignon and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, but nowhere really suitable to park Dave, as reviews spoke a lot about break-ins - so just not worth it - park further away in a quiet place with good reviews, then cycle in!

Quite a way away but quiet
Quite a way away but quiet

Apparently we are now in the Vaucluse department in south east France. Last night I read my guide book about the area - I don’t think there’s one place of interest to visit that you don’t have to pay for! For example, in the smaller Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (population 13,000) today there are five ‘attractions’, ranging from €3.50 to climb the Tour Philippe Le Bel to €8 for La Chartreuse - a medieval monastery. I know, you lot reading think we’re cheap skates, but it’s just so hard to decide beforehand what will be good value for money! That was before we even got into Avignon!

Anyway, tonight should be quiet, parking at the end of a residential street - seems ideal. There were a couple of horses just behind us, but all the trees looked burnt, but some green vegetation - they did look sad though!

We had lunch, bikes out and went riding. When we were driving here, I was a bit skeptical as it took 20 minutes to drive from Villeneuve-lès-Avignon to our parking place, so was thinking it would be too far on our bikes, especially as we wanted to go into Avignon too - but it was fine!

We rode past the 14th century Fort Saint-André, the Tour Philippe-le-Bel, a huge flea market which was just finishing - and tried to find the tourist information office. Rode all around the one way system, asked a few people - eventually found it hidden behind the flea market where we started. Needn’t have bothered - closed from Thursday afternoon through to Monday! 

Gave up, and rode more downhill, and across the River Rhône to Avignon (population 91,000). For 70 odd years of the early 1300s, the Provençal town of Avignon was the centre of the Roman Catholic world, and though it’s stint as the seat of papal power only lasted a few decades, it’s been left with an impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture, mainly the Palais des Papes. 

On our way in, some of the streets were blocked off, so we asked where the tourist information was, and the man produced a map for us - very helpful!

We found a place to lock up our bikes, and went walking. 

Why do we all seem to know the tune, if not the words of Sur Le Pont D’Avignon? Think we must have been taught at school? It’s a French song about a dance performed on Le Pont d’Avignon, (officially Pont St-Bénézet) that dates back to the 15th century. The dance actually took place under the bridge, sous, not sur! It would have been €5 just to walk along the remaining bridge, which we could see well enough when cycling across the Rhône, and from the park above. Legend has it that Pastor Bénézet (a former shepherd) had three visions urging him to build a bridge across the Rhône. Completed in 1185, the 900m long bridge linked Avignon with Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. It was rebuilt several times before all but four of its 22 spans were washed away in the 1600s, leaving the far side marooned in the middle of the Rhône. 

Avignon was very busy today, the Hôtel de la Ville had a few weddings going on. You could tell it’s a ‘destination’ as it has a ‘petit-train’, along with lots of American and Asian visitors!

It’s fair to say that the Palais des Papes is pretty spectacular! It’s also huge! We dithered about visiting for €12 each. It’s the largest Gothic palace ever built, erected by Pope Clement V, who abandoned Rome in 1309 in the wake of violent disorder after his election. However, it’s 3m thick walls, it’s cavernous halls, chapels and antechambers are largely bare today - but visitors get a ‘histopad’ revealing virtual reality representations of how the building would have looked in all its papal pomp. 

The palace and Notre Dame
The palace and Notre Dame

We walked up to the Rocher des Doms, basically gardens with a wonderful view of the Rhône, Mont Ventoux and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. 

Then spent a couple of hours wandering around the streets, busy, lots of popular shops - Tintin had to have a photo with the Tintin watches! We even had an ice-cream!

We said we’ll get confused when we look back on our photos - why there were the Italian flags everywhere - haven’t got a clue!

Down in the side streets, there seemed to be quite a few bric-a-brac shops, and second-hand shops. Liked the sign about men and cats - so true!

Interesting little street with plastic sunflowers hanging over it. 

Sadly, we saw quite a few beggars, most of them with dogs - just how they keep them so calm, don’t know - unless as Tintin suggests they’re not getting the nourishment they need for energy?

Thought the same about the man with a cat laid out flat on his music making contraption - skeptic in me thinks was the poor cat drugged?

Once again, clear blue skies today and air temperature about 30°. Our gauge was reading 37° inside when we got back to Dave. It’s now gone 7pm, and the sun is going down, so hopefully will cool off soon. 

We were out for over 4 hours, ridden for 10 miles, walked for - well - enough - we both were glad to sit down. All in all, was a lovely afternoon visit to a very pretty town. Now, off to cook!

More photos from today

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Martin and Kay Dumont from Guernsey, first time motorhomers and ready to travel. ‘Dave’ is our Mobilvetta K Yacht 85, purchased in 2017 and travelled all the way from Italy. After following Jason and Julie Buckley’s blog 'Ourtour' for years I just couldn’t get the name ‘Dave’ out of my head. So the Mobilvetta had to be another 'Dave’. More...

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