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Published: September 17th 2017
Geo: 43.9486, 4.80597
It was a little too quiet this morning with no children greeting me with birthday wishes. I consoled myself with bread, chocolate and tea while contemplating my options for the day. I haven't heard from Lucy, but according to the car rental contract, she arrives in Marseille around 5. I think that will put her here around 7, but I'm not sure. I don't want to do everything fun in Avignon without her so I settled on swinging by the tourist info place to pick up the discount pass and walking along the Rhone along the wall outside the city.
It's a very pleasant walk. On the far side of the river I could see some sort of event going on which involved boats and jet skis and balloons. All things considered, the Rhone is actually a pretty quiet river, from my perspective. Eventually I came to the Pont D'Avignon. This is a bridge that dates back to the 10th century. It has lots of quirks to recommend it as a tourist attraction. A saint ( Saint Bénézet) inspired the building of it and for many years his body was buried on site. At one point the bridge washed away
Because of the strong winds, or mistrals, in the winter, the bell towers are open air and made of iron to let the wind through. This one was ringing for mass as I passed by.
and they managed to retrieve his body and move it to a safer location. Unfortunately, during some battle or other, it was looted and soldiers stole his "relics." Some have been recovered. I tried checking for better details on Wikipedia, but they have less of the story than the audio guide I got on site. Given that his miracles are just under 900 years old, I'm sure there are differing accounts of what actually occurred. What seems to be most important was that the bridge was key to the pilgrim traffic between Spain and Italy. Now there is only half a bridge, which is visually interesting, and a popular French children's song which encourages dancing on the top.
Just downriver from the bridge to nowhere is a free water taxi. How could I not? I hopped on and enjoyed the view for the 3 minutes or so that it took to cross. From the far side I saw a building that looked like a castle. Why not walk there? I started off gamely until I got to another branch of the Rhone which had no bridge and no taxi. Hmmm. Accepting that not all of my brilliant ideas pan out, I
headed back up the river to walk the bridge back to Avignon. This walk provided some nice views, so it wasn't time ill used. As I headed back into the city, the hand of fate brought me to the gelato shop. Fate, I tell you. Dark chocolate and coffee.
I read about a place that I am interested in going to dinner, so I started looking around for it, thinking to make a reservation. I was lost in the fold of the map for a while, but eventually found the restaurant "A Tout Petit," but it is closed Sunday and Monday. At least it will be easier to find next time.
This morning I saw the awards ceremony for a bike race they had in town before I woke up. In my wanderings this afternoon, I saw the kids' version. Since cycling is so big here, it was pretty intense. Rather than have the course loop around town, they cordoned off a long street and the kids had to make sharp turns at the end so the could go up and down the street.
One last place I stopped that I forgot to mention: I walked around the market "Les Halles"
for a little while this morning. I had a tough time deciding on what, if anything I should buy, so mostly I just enjoyed looking around at all of the very cool shops. Wine, meats, seafood, vegetables, cheeses, foi gras, flowers, bread. It's all there. Ultimately I picked up two pears for snacks. Cheese would have been good, but could have been potentially very messy in my bag.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes. Until tomorrow!
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