We had the idea to head to the capital of Provence for a day trip yesterday, so that’s what we did! We caught an early train, about 8am, to Avignon and arrived around 11. We’ve heard to “beware the Mistral (the horrible wind)”, and luckily it wasn’t in town while we were there. We were greeted with palm trees and blue skies coming out of the station, but it was still cold!
We walked down the main street and ended up in Place de l’Horloge which is named for the famous clock tower. There is a theater, and some government buildings, an old carousel from the early 1900′s, and lots of cafes in this main Place.
Eating was first on our agenda since we hadn’t had any food all day, and we finally (after walking around for about an hour) decided on this little French place called l’Hermitage. There were lots of great looking restaurants we walked by, but some were really expensive, some weren’t French cuisine, and some just weren’t open. But this turned out to be a great choice. Lunch in France is such a different experience than in the United States. (We usually don’t eat out for dinner, so I only have lunch to compare to.) Usually lunch is just a quick in and out kind of meal, but here it comes with at least 3 courses, and wine, and silverware changes…haha it’s incredible. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s just such a pleasure every time you sit down…I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I had a salad with strong goat cheese on the side wrapped in a filo crust. And then we all shared some escargot (the snails) with pesto. And for the main course was salmon with some kind of sweet potato puree and roasted vegetables and regional white wine. And finally dessert was a chocolate fondant with ice cream. It was incredible!
We started walking, and ended up at the Avignon Bridge. This is a funny thing to see, because the bridge stops halfway through the river. It has been destroyed over the centuries through floods and reconstruction. One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a bridge is that it has a chapel inside, and used to have a cafe where people would gather and dance…hence the nursery rhyme “We dance, we dance on the Bridge of Avignon”.
On top of the bridge looking back towards the city, you can see the Papal Palace where the Popes were living during the 1300′s.
All that’s left of the palace is the structure…there’s no decorations or furniture. It’s just all stone…but they said that when the popes were living there, it was all covered in tapestries, gold, tile flooring, etc. It’s all been destroyed though over time.
And at the top, a really beautiful view of the city.
After the palace, we had a coffee and did some shopping. 4 out of the 6 of us ended up missing our train, so we hung around some more in the bar waiting for another train…and eventually made it home around 11:30pm. All in all…a great day!