Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Avignon France - February 27, 2011

Avignon France - Town Square
Building in the square across from the Papal Palace

Elephant doing a trunk stand!

Papal Palace Square

Front of the Papal Palace - part of it anyway - it is huge!

Inside the Papal Palace

The kids loved the broken gargoyal!

Pictures were forbidden in the Papal Chambres - this was
all I could get - the painting, however, is still on the walls
as seen in this photo!

Cool door/stairway


Picnic in the Papal Palace Square

Proof that I was there too!

Carousel from 1900 - Adam and Emma rode on the
upper deck-In the town square

Chapel next to the Papal Palace

Pont Saint Benezet

On top of the Pont Saint Benezet - drawbridge

Walking or blowing across the bridge

Chapel built in honor of St. Benezet on the bridge

Crossing the Rhone for a nice walk back to the city

From the other side

Nice Small Museum

Sisley - Winter Scene - 1884


Van Gogh

On Sunday we were headed to Avignon France, approximately an hour northeast of Montpellier in the Provence & Cote D'Azur region.  We were hoping to see a lot of beautifully blossomed trees and flowers and, although we did see a few pretty pink almond trees, most have not actually burst into full color yet - we will continue to try to catch them!

The trip to Avignon was pretty good once we got to the highway - getting to the highway was a little tedious but after turning around (only once!) we figured it out. 

Avignon is another walled city in the south of France.  The Rhone River flows next to the walled city and down to Arles. One of the main attractions of Avignon, however, is the Palais des Papes which I was excited to see.  The Palais des Papes translates to: The Popes' Palace and was constructed during the 1300's when the Papal Court moved here from Rome (from 1309-1377) due to political problems in Rome and the scheming of Philippe IV of France.  Seven popes reigned over the church during the years that the Papal court was located in Avignon. The Palace, from the outside was amazing - huge, ornate, beautiful. The inside, however, was a bit disappointing. Apparently, over the centuries due to looting or destruction, much of the contents of the palace are gone.  All that remains is the shell of the palace, along with some broken pieces of walls, statues (some whole, some broken), paintings (amazing that the color is holding up!) and some of the doorways.  The rest of the Palace is very commercialized and geared toward tourists.  After seeing some of the other walled cities and treasures around France, Andrew and I agreed that we were both disappointed in the palace and the touristiness (my own word!) of it.

After touring the palace for 1.5 hours, we grabbed a table in the square while Andrew headed back to the car for our picnic lunch complete with sandwiches, a baguette, cheeses, dried fruit, trail mix and lots of water.  While waiting for him to return,however, the kids and I treated ourselves to hot chocolate and coffee - yum!

From the Palace, we walked to the Pont De Saint Benezet, a bridge that was constructed by St.Benezet after he was told by God to do so.  The legend says that Benezet was tending sheep in a field when he got the instruction from God to build the Avignon bridge and he tried to convince the townspeople that this was truly an instruction from God.  Of course, the townspeople laughed at him and told him that if he could lift a boulder that had not been moved previously, due to size and weight, they would believe his story and help build the bridge.  Benezot walked over to the boulder, heaved it up to his shoulder and carried it to the river where it was layed as the cornerstone of the bridge. Alas!  With the help of the townspeople, the bridge was constructed and eventually, a chapel was added to it to honor St. Benezet.  Unfortunately, due to floods in 1668, a portion of the bridge was destroyed so it is now, as you can see from the pictures above, a bridge to the middle of the Rhone River!

During our trip, all five of us touched the Rhone for the first time!  Nathan lead the pack and the rest of us followed.  We then jumped on a boat to cross the Rhone and walked back to the walled city along a lovely walking path.  Once again, we had a beautiful, sunny, albeit windy, day!

Emma and Adam were excited to ride the double decker carousel in the town square so they did, and had a blast!  I didn't know a carousel could be so much fun to ride - going around and around....

Andrew and I were interested in going to the Musee Angladon - a museum that had some paintings and creations by Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso.  We gave the kids some cash, told them to tour around and have a treat and meet us at the carousel in an hour.  Andrew and I took off to find the museum!  The museum had been the home of two artists from Avignon who were married to each other and whose works are also on display there.  The Great uncle of the male artist (I forget his name) was a successful fashion designer in Paris and upon his death, the nephew received his estate complete with a lot of money and his art collection which included the Van Gogh etc... The museum was small, but nice and we liked the history.

We met the kids and headed home for the day!

Funny Story:
I haven't written about our (my) bathroom adventures in the blog yet.  The trip to Avignon, however, supplied us with one so I will add it here.

After we parked the car and were heading on our jaunt around Avignon, I announced that if anyone saw a bathroom, I needed to use it.  Keep in mind that during our other trips when we were looking for a bathroom, we were only able to find those that we had to pay for or a urinal on the side of a building - in the middle of all of the action (poor Adam!)

We only had to walk about 20 yards from the car when Nathan said "hey mom" and pointed at something that, to me, looked like a space capsule.  This "bathroom" was in an oval shape and half covered with cement strips (hard to explain, I wish that I'd taken a pix!).  One end of the oval was metal and looked like it should open - there was a picture of a little man and woman on this "door", however, I could not find a handle.  On the side were four big circles - red, green, and 2 plain buttons.  Nathan pushed one and we heard a whoosh and noticed that one of the plain circles was now yellow and said "occupied".  I knocked on the door and pushed it aside - it opened!  Hurray - time for some relief.  The family agreed to be my lookout since we couldn't find a lock and I entered the capsule "bathroom".  Now, upon examination I didn't really know if I was in a bathroom constructed for a woman - but the picture showed a woman, and we could only find one door, I must be in the right place so why is there only something that looks like a urinal in here???  I made due, finished up and tried to flush - no flusher - the one button that was possibly the flusher was actually the "sink" and dripped water on my hand - that's it!  I was outa there!  I didn't care if it flushed or not!  When I came out, Nathan informed me that it was a self cleaning bathroom and washed itself after every use - flushed, cleaned the seat etc.... - hummmm maybe this is a space aged thing after all!


  1. I remember seeing that! But afraid to try it. The best way to find a bathroom is to watch for women walking alone into a restaurant or cafe. Follow them and you will find the bathroom.

  2. Good idea Ann! I'll keep that in mind :)