Likely Places to Explore
Likely the Office de Tourisme in Avignon can point us to an inexpensive guide with a van, to take us across the River and south a little to Nimes with its exceptionally well preserved Roman ruins, of which the Arena/Coliseum is only the most well known. And we'd like to spend more time hiking around and maybe up onto the Pont du Gard aqueduct, above. For one thing, I would like to come home with photo and video evidence of the actual trough on top, where water flowed all those centuries ago.
Directly across the Rhone and west from Avignon, this village trails up towards yonder 14th C. castle, while trees spread their leafy softness everywhere. The point of including this scene here, is that in the neighborhood that we'll be inhabiting for this slightly shortened week it does not much matter where you turn in a daily quest to absorb some of the Gallic mystique. The freshness of gentle adventure is out there, a walk or bus-ride or maybe train-ride (Arles, for instance) away. It just wants a readiness to venture forth.
Several miles to the south of our adoptive city is Tarascon. You see its grand fortress at the edge of the Rhone, if you're happily at the starboard rail of a northbound cruise vessel bound for Lyon or beyond .... We'll take a train here: it is a place to be visited without a helpful guide pointing our noses in particular directions. Just wandering and wondering, will be plenty for us. The crumbling chapel shown here is a brisk walk from the town's gare.
And my educated guess is we will end the afternoon enjoying a glass of red wine beneath one of the porticos shown, before stepping back aboard a northbound milk-run train for Avignon.
And this view always makes me smile. It's the ceiling of the Palace kitchen. Carved into every wall are several large niches, each of which is a hearth for cooking roast something-or-others for the perennial feasts happening nearby. The smoke must have been horrendous, and had to go somewhere: what better solution than to make the whole room into an efficient, inverted-funnel chimney! Trying unsuccessfully to imagine wanting to prepare meals in there. Imagining the word "cook" becoming an intransitive verb. Shudder..
In close walking distance from our home, though, are places like the Pope's Palace, with its fearsome, dark rooms seemingly delved within impregnable stone walls, rooms whose windows open mainly onto an interior plaza. We walked in here once before, puzzled at the visible paranoia that seemed designed into its structure, and a little disconcerted at how France's version of the One True Church had morphed into such an imitation of secular power-players of the age. Having admitted to that uncomfortable thought, though, I want to explore the place a little more deeply and either confirm my preposterous opinion or refute it.
Yet in the back of our mind is a reassuring awareness that now is a more mellow time with a less viscerally-churning opportunity for belief. And right here is a sweet, old neighborhood to enjoy strolling around and feel secure being citizens within — compared at any rate to the often ghastly spiritual scenario presented for the ingestion of souls seven hundred years ago. I love little streams like this, that still run through a venerable neighborhood.