Published: November 29th 2009
November 14th 2009
The only reason I went to Avignon was because mum had taught me the song all about it as I was growing up. I can't speak french but I can sing it! So I was thrilled to finally get onto the bridge. What I found suprising was that it didn't actually stretch across the whole river! It stopped about half way because some of the arches fell down over 100 years ago. The reason the bridge is so famous is because a man claimed God insisted it be built and to prove it he had to pick up an incredibly heavy boulder and move it to lay the first stone. Apparently God helped him lift this impossible stone and so everyone believed and they built the bridge. He became a saint from then on. The bridge was importalised in the the song Sule pont d'Avignon which is all about dancing on the bridge. Apparently they never actually danced ON the brdige though. People actually danced on one of the many small islands BENEATH it. I didn't have the guts to dance on it at all. I just did a little jig and a quick spin when I thought no one was
looking. I DID get to sing the song though when I was all on my own for a few minutes.
Apart from the bridge, Avignon itself is a gorgeous little town. It's surrounded by an ancient wall and has lots of little lanes. There's the Palais Des Papes which is a gothic palace where the Popes used to live when Avignon was owned by Italy. It's a beautiful buiding but the rooms themselves are displayed empty, so a bit dull if you don't understand the french displays. Nice views from the towers though. It's also a beautiful building to take pictures of. I sat across the sqare and enjoyed some nice tapas one evening. (Felt weird eating tapas in France.)
A short bus ride away is Villeneuve lez Avignon which has La Chartreuse, a 14th century monastery. One thing I found interesting there was that it had a few small jail cells but they each had a hole cut out of them in awkward angles to ensure all the prisoners could watch the service at the small altar.
There's also a fort up there but I didn't go in. You can get a glorious view across to
Avignon from in front of it though. I sat there for half an hour and watched the sun set. The view is even better form the Jardins de L'abbage next door.
From Avignon it's also very easy to get to Orange. I went there for a morning purely because I was dying to see Theatre Antique d'Orange, one of the greatest theatres in the Roman Empire. It was built in the way typical of ancient greek theatres with the large wall at the back of the stage decorated with pillars and statues. Sadly there are only a couple of pillars remaining and one statue. It's still an awe inspiring stage. They use it today for operas and such. I wandered around for over 2 hours listening to every little thing I could on the free audio guide. If you're interested in theatre I highly reccomend it! It's interesting to learn a bit about ancient Roman theatre.
All in all I had a wonderful weekend. Avignon rivalled Verona for my affections but Verona still came out on top. Just.
There are more photos below