A Conversation for France

Avignon

Post 1

Ashley



The best thing about France is the Province or literally anywhere outside Paris and the Ile de la Cite. Of the areas, Avignon, Vaucluse is a true gem.

The town is about the size of York, UK and is a walled city with its ramparts beautifully intact .

The best way to see the city is to start at the Rue de la Republique and walk straight. All along the Rue de la Republique (the main road) are the usual shops selling everything from food to clothes. What is surprising about Avignon is that the lack of tacky tourist souvenirs - the whole city oozes charm and taste. If you want to shop on the Republique then head for the Galleries Lafayette. The Galleries is situated on your left as you walk through the city. Inside you'll discover the most beautiful Art Nouveau interior and some great bargains that only a French department store can offer. There are two things to pay attention to however - some items are ridiculously over priced and it has been known for pickpockets to target tourists in the perfume department.

When you've managed to drag yourself out and continue your journey up the Rue de la Republique, you'll se a Leclerc on the right hand side of the street. Pop in here for any snacks or drinks but don't buy your bread here unless your desperate. It's worth waiting till you stumble across a boulangerie.

You've bought your pressies and you're stocked up on snacks and your continuing up the Rue de la Republique (it's a *long* road) and you'll stumble into the Place d'Horloge (Clock Square). You'll find Toilets to the left and cafes all around the square - these are pricey but worth it just to watch the bustle. The square is lined and makes a great spot to eat your food.

If you continue up the square, you'll see a narrow passage in the top right hand corner - go through this and you' will be left stunned. Leaviing one square, you'll stumble into the Place du Palais. This is a true marvel. The Square is dominated by the Papal Palace ont the right hand side which was erected when the popes had to flee Rome when the city was being ransacked. There are hundreds of websites that can be trawled through for more history - I'm just giving you a feel for the city. On the left of the Square ids the music conservatory.

The tour still hasn't finished - as you're looking at the Palace, you'll notice a raised park to the left. Head up to this park and when you reach the top you will be greeted by the most fantastic sight that Avignon is famous for - It's bridge - which is broken.

Take the path down to the bridge and your tour is complete. The bridge is called le Pont St Benezet after the man who built it for penence. The bridge used to span 1km but the frequent swelling of the Rhone caused the bridge to break, literally. St Benezet rebuilt it. It broke again. The chapel on the bridge is dedicated to St Nicholas.

As you look over the Rhone, you'll notice that there's an island in the middle. This is the Ile de la Barthelasse which has an outdoor swimming pool (you have to wear speedos not bermuda shorts) and a great campsite.

If you want to explore the city further, head for the Rue des Teinturiers (Dyers Road) where you can still see a watermill and then visit the chapel where Laura is buried. Laura was the muse who inspired the French poet Petrach's poetry. He only saw her once. Also on this road, there's a great Aboriginal restaurant called Woollamoloo - try the barley it's delicious.

Avignon is also famous for its festival of dance and drama which takes place in July. This is the chance for International, national, local and street performers get the chance to strut their stuff. Truly an incredible time of year but unbearably hot.

Try and visit Avignon when the new wines arrive (3rd Thursday in November). The whole city gathers in the Place du Palais where there is a medieval pageant involving all the local vineyards in costume carrying flame torches. there is a speech and then a free for all as the populus is allowed to taste all the wines, for free, for as long as they want. the hangover itself is worth an entry of its own.

When in Avignon, you must try the Pastis mixes that are on offer.

Tomate is Pastis and Grenadine Syrup
Mooresque is Pastis and almond syrup
Perroquet is Pastis and Mint syrup
Greque is Pastis and Bubblegum flavoured syrup

If beer is your drink:

Panache is shandy
Picon Biere is a mixture of beer and alcoholic syrup - unique
Monaco Is beer, lemonade, and grenadine syrup.


A final not on the weather - it's glorious and it is not unusual to have breakfast on the terrace in February. However, pay attention to the Mistral. the mistral is a wind that blows in April/may - it is caused becuase the are is surrounded on one side by the alps and the other by a small range called Les Alpilles (little alps). The cool air in the north and the warm air in the south cuase a kind of vacuum and thus the mistral. oddly enough, it only blows for 3 or six or nine days.

I hope this has given some of you inspiration to visit a city that I have a great affinity with, that I respect and that I truly love.

I thank any of you who have read this entire thread. smiley - smiley


Avignon

Post 2

Ashley



One more thing, it's usually best to stay inside the city walls (intra muros) at night as outside (extra muros) can be a little dodgy at night - especially by the train station.


Avignon

Post 3

J'au-æmne

(Je suis... erm... trés... impressed. Sorry, my french was years ago... and I didn't study it, only attended the lessons.smiley - winkeye)


Avignon

Post 4

Ashley



For Joanna's benefit:

Sur le Pont
d'Avignon
L'on y danse
L'on y danse
Sur le Pont
d'Avignon
L'on y danse
Tous en rond

and then it continues along the lines

Les beaux messieurs font comme ca
ils font encore comme ca

Les belles dames font comme ca
Elles font encore comme ca


Avignon

Post 5

J'au-æmne

More verses, but slightly different version...

Les millitaire font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça

Les petit fils font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça


Avignon

Post 6

Ashley



There's also something about boats, no?


Avignon

Post 7

J'au-æmne

J'ai oublié smiley - winkeye
How practical would it be to dance on the bridge? is it advised?


Avignon

Post 8

Ashley



The bridge is quite wide as throughout the history of bridges, until recently, they used to have shops, houses and churches on them.

However, the song has been distorted - it originally was

'Sous le pont' meaning under the bridge and not 'Sur' (on)

I will let you into a little secret spot that is not in any Guide book, but please treat it with respect as it was where i spent one of the most romantic evenings of my life.

just befor the bridge there is a tiny set of steps tucked away from public view - if you go down here there is a little 'beach' on the banks of the Rhone if you go in summer after a night out sit here and watch the sunrise. The effect is spectacular:

you first of all have the huge swell of the Rhone which is a glittering silver grey green colour , then as you look up at the horizon you'll see the bridge lit up in white light and reflecting its golden stone and then you have the early mornning dawn pink and orange hues swallowing up the last remnants of night. this is truly an orgy for the eyes.

Ah the memories...


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Avignon

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