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Published: July 14th 2016
On the way to Avignon
A 6 hour journey....praise to our driver!
Thursday 14 July 2016
Technical issues finally overcome!
The drive south to Avignon on Sunday took us through varied and beautiful countryside (along with hundreds of others possibly travelling to Marseilles for their summer holidays!) A welcome stop at Marcy-l’Etoile for our delicious picnic lunch prepared by Madame Smith was greatly appreciated. We wandered along the path and onto the soft green grass of the parkland surrounding Domaine de Lacroix-Laval. Several family groups picnicked under shady trees, bike riders made their way through the parkland paths; a restful and refreshing time. One needs to be prepared for ‘the squat’ at public oblution blocks in France!
We spied some lavender fields as we got closer to Avignon, but not the expanse we had hoped. Perhaps they are all further east. Sunflowers were in abundance, their heads turned to the sunshine. The ancient walls of the old city towered before us, a Romanesque feel pervaded.
We crossed over the Rhône River to Ile de la Barthelasse to find our accommodation for the next few days: Domaine de Rhodes. Narrow lanes wound their way through farmland, past a quaint school and ancient farm buildings. Our first
Neville's Navigator Mabel
Mabel holding the toll ticket... ready for the peage!
impression on the approach to Domaine de Rhodes was trepidation; the view was not what the brochure looked like at all. But, never judge too quickly…we turned from the narrow lane into the property and the century old trees, stunning façade and outdoor dining area greeted us, as did myriad cicadas singing their song. Once our host, Cyrille, took us inside this 16th
century hunting lodge we were transported in time. The rooms are very tastefully furnished, old and new combining very effectively.
Dinner at La Ferme, just 300 meters from Domaine de Rhodes, followed a relaxed swim. The ambience and food provided here was such that it was very difficult to leave. A balmy summer’s evening, wining and dining beneath the wisteria covered pergola…and the football final between France and Portugal showing on the TV brought into the courtyard especially for the event…a fine time!
As the morning was warm and still, breakfast was served outdoors. Delicious fare of locally produced breads, jams, cheese, meat, cereal, yoghurt and fruit sustained us for the day.
The car parking at Avignon is outside the city walls. We drove to the huge car
park on the island and were taken across the bridge, over the Rhône, by bus. The latter part of the morning and early afternoon was spent exploring the ancient town of Avignon which is surrounded by medieval stone ramparts. At its centre is the enormous Palais des Papes and the remains of the Saint-Bénezet bridge (or the Pont d’Avignon). From 1309 to 1377 Avignon was the seat of Catholic popes. It remained under papal rule until 1791 when it became a part of France.
The famous bridge was built between 1177 and 1185 and closed in 1633. It was beautiful to see a mother and her young daughter smiling gleefully as they joined hands, skipped in a circle and sang the song, Sur la Pont d’Avignon. The Dad filmed the joyous moment.
The annual arts festival, Festival d’Avignon, was in full swing while we were there. Many street performers kept us well entertained as we enjoyed a cool drink.
A restful afternoon of swimming for some and slumber for others was enjoyed before our return visit to La Ferme for dinner. Another late evening, as it truly was difficult to extricate
The weather changed overnight; thunder, lightning, rain….breakfast was partaken in the atmospheric dining room. Well fed, rested and relaxed after our time in Provence, it was time to leave. Our caring hosts, Cyrille and Emmanuelle, farewelled us in typical French fashion with three kisses to the cheeks.
A diversion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arles was enjoyed. It was a favourite city of Emperor Constantine1; Usurper Constantine 111 made Arles his capital in 408. It certainly is an ancient city! Van Gogh lived in Arles for a year and produced many works throughout this time. Today, it’s an eclectic city and continues to host Provençal-style bullfights.
Au revoir, Provence!
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