Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Tuesday 15 November – Avignon

Where’s Colin? He’s still at Camping Bagatelle on the Ile de Barthelasse, Avignon.

I had a lovely 10km trundle along the south side of the Ile de Barthelasse first thing this morning, discovering that there’s a dirt track which runs alongside the river with only the occasional need to touch a road*. Pity we didn’t discover that yesterday when we were out wandering in the local area, as it was interesting, passing huge barges which have been converted to house-boats, and with a bit of early morning life on the river in the form of rowers. Mick’s morning didn’t start so well, as a recurrent calf injury presented itself just two thirds of a mile in, causing him to turn back.

With a substantial second breakfast and an outrageously long and hot shower then top of my priority list, it was getting on for lunchtime by the time we made our way across the bridge and through the fortifications (a wall encircles the old town) into Avignon.

I think that the top highlight of our visit was the park which sits at the top of the town, from where excellent views were had, firstly looking over to the fortifications of Villeneuve les Avignon (or what remains of them; unlike Avignon itself, they no longer surround the entire old centre of Villeneuve):

Then looking upstream where it was possible to see both branches of the Rhone as they split around the Ile de Barthelasse:

Then we got to a detailed orientation table, made of illustrated enamel tiles:

Here’s a bit more of it, made wiggly by taking a panoramic shot, thus straightening out something that’s horseshoe shaped:

The orientation table confirmed that the big mountain we could see poking above the clouds/haze to the NE was Mont Ventoux (a name which will be familiar to anyone who has paid any attention to the Tour de France). You probably can’t make it out in this snap – in the full-sized photo on a full-size screen, it’s a smudge of dark just to the right of the lowest branch of the tree on the left:

The second highlight of our visit to the town was the Place du Palais, the square on one side of which sits the Palais du Papes, home to medieval popes back when Avignon was the capital of the Catholic church. We ummed and arred as to whether we would consider it worth the €11 per head charge to go inside, and decided that if we were going to, then it would have to be after lunch; ultimately we decided against. Unfortunately, that means I have no snap of that square, as the sun was in the wrong place for a photo of the Palais’s impressive front facade at noon, and I forgot to go back later.

Lunch was then calling us and, once a venue had been chosen pretty much at random, we joined all of the other diners at outside tables. By then the earlier whispy clouds had burnt off, and it proved warm enough in the sun, and out of the wind, to shed jackets:

A bit more wandering ensued, before we concluded that if we weren’t going to fork out dosh to visit either the Palais or any of the museums (we’ve visited a lot of museums, such that any that we come across now need to promise something of particular interest to cause us to pay for entry), then there wasn’t anything else of interest in the town. So, after just 3 hours or so (half of which was taken up by lunch) back over the river we went…

…for the more mundane task of getting the laundry done.

As we’re moving on tomorrow, and as I have no idea where we’re going, I’d best look at the maps and guidebook this evening to come up with a vague plan for the next 24 hours.

(*Part of that track is only open from 31 October to 1 March, the reason for which became clear when I ran through the veranda, and then wove my way through the outdoor tables, of a restaurant which is now closed for the season).

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