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An urbane part of Provence, if that may be possible. The Papacy relocated here for safety, 700 years ago

Avignon

You simply have to love Provence

Seven Days

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fields. Among whose quietly magical vintage buildings there's a kind of tastefully relaxed bustle. Local people go about life heartily because that's what you do, as a French citizen; but I also think one would launch into every day with a kind of eager gladness (élan) at being able to do that perhaps mundane task here in this payée, because after all this is the south of France.

It seems to be sunny much of the time here in the south of France. Intimate buildings cluster peacefully like this unassuming village, which stands quiet among the sunflower- and lavender-rowed

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Some dozen miles west of where we expect to stay for these restful seven days, this first-century Roman aqueduct, le Pont du Gard, stubbornly continues upright. It was erected about 70 a.d. to bring fresh water to the city of Nimes, some distance from this photo's left border. Large-scale weaving was a major industry there, a couple of centuries ago. One primary export was an especially rugged cotton canvas-like material, which came to be referred to by its origin (de Nimes). In turn that tag morphed into denims.

Levi Strauss chose it for his mid-1800s trousers business in gold-rush California.

But focusing on Avignon, the central hub of this entire week's adventures ... grand old structures endure, such as this Papal Palace whose 14th century heyday came about in this region of then-relatively affordable land — because it wasn't at all safe to be head of the Roman Catholic church while actually residing in St Peter's city. So because of any pope's likelihood of being suddenly dead in that city-state on the Tiber during those years, and to the delight of the king of France, pontiffs Clement V through Urban V (1309-77) transferred their seat of authority here. While it was good for their own personal survival, at the same time several difficult events were set in motion because of the move, and odd principles conveyed to the faithful abroad. But you must look that up. Interesting times, to say the least.

And yet it wasn't all the splendor and intrigue of mitres and vestments, in yon era. Alongside the flourishing church labyrinth, everyday industries grew. Farmers and vintners prospered, industry sprouted. Here is a typical scene along the Street of the Dyers. Two hundred years ago this faithful little stream powered a succession of water wheels, dynamo of local fabric production. The city of Avignon has had the good sense to preserve such a heritage as this, to contribute to the everyday emotional health of its citizens.

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​One may walk along here happily, whether going to work or to meet with friends at a pleasant table: to paint, to think. Always with a subliminal awareness of the spirits of those hearty souls behind the sturdy stone walls across the flowing stream, as they bring in wool or cotton yarn daily, preparing the coloring agents in large vats, keeping the looms going. Cousins from the past.

India cloth of Avignon/Provence

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Madderwort sprig

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Video memento of earlier visit in Avignon.

Foodie type opportunities abound here, to walk among and decide between. Craft bakeries, cheese sellers, wine bars, coffee shops, neat rows of sidewalk tables beneath dappled shade of ever present plane trees. While they're open long lunch hours, we hope to seek out such perches mainly during prime people-watching time.

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We love farmers markets whether outdoors like this one in Aix-en-Provence, or indoors like the massive assemblage of shops which comprise Les Halles in Avignon — all boasting the freshest food sold by the most interesting vendors. Which festive places will beckon us from reachable walking distance of our very own kitchen for these days.

Photos are coming in the BLOG section, once the adventure actually begins.

Yum.

Less than 100 yards from the deuxieme étage windows of our apartment for these seven days (shown) is this crumbling tower at the head of the Street of the Dyers. From about 1230, Franciscan brothers of the ultra-strict Cordeliers sect continued here until the French revolution arrived, wreaking its usual havoc.

 

Perhaps a kilometer beyond this dour stone sentinel flows the River Rhone, a wide and soothing and massive presence.

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Then by trains to six days in

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They're Going Again!