Apr 30, 2015
|Thursday, April 30th.
We woke to a beautiful sunny day and decided to wander around Avignon. We met a couple from Canterbury, GB as we were waiting for our ferry ride across the Rhone. They were RV’ing for 3 months and as this wasn’t their first trip to Europe they had many good suggestions. It was agreed we would get together later for a drink and more conversation.
We boarded the ferry just before 12:30, luckily, because this was their last trip across before they broke for lunch, returning at 2 PM. (3 minutes to cross, eight minutes to dock, unload and load).
We entered the walled town and proceeded to walk uphill (of course) through narrow streets, by-passing many shops who were selling bread and pastries but mostly souvenirs. Finally we reached the huge active square The Palace Square lined with the Palace of the Popes the Petit Palace and the cathedral.
In the 1300 the entire HQ of the Catholic Church was moved to Avignon. The church bought Avignon and cleared out vast spaces like this square and building this 3 acre Palace along with 3 miles of protective walls with 39 towers, It was Europe’s largest construction zone of the time. The population grew from 6,000 to 25,00 over 7 yrs. Today 13,000 people live within the walls. The buildings are glorious and overwhelming in their age and size, (See pictures!!)
As this was a day just to explore and absorb we decided to eat lunch on the square at one of the many cafes available and people watch. After all we had to wait for the tram driver to return from lunch . I don’t know how a country can run when everyone takes off for an hour and a half for lunch. I do mean everyone. Shops, banks, post office, businesses etc. Don’t try to eat after 2 either. Nothing is open until 5 and then only for drinks until dinner at 7 PM.
There was all sorts of entertainment happening in the large square. Mimes and huge bubble blowers and a fantastic trumpet player I was surprised when he started in with Hello Dolly as we passed him. Soooo, yep I couldn’t help myself. I performed the line dance with the same name. When he was finished playing he stood and bowed, I returned his bow and threw some change in his hat.
Our tram tour with audio guide was very informative and gave us a good, lay of the land, for the next days explorations. We couldn’t imagine what the crowds would be like in the summer as it was quite crowded in April. The streets were so narrow that people had to paste themselves against the wall to let us pass.
No problem catching the boat shuttle and heading back to our camping “pitch”. Bill noticed one of the passengers had on a Tilly hat so when we disembark we ask him where he was from.- Quebec. He was traveling with his wife and her sister and husband from New Brunswick. It was great chatting with them about their travel experiences thus far.
As we had a large dinner we settled on cheese and bread for dinner.