Monday, July 16, 2012

Marseille/Avignon/Les Baux

As we sailed into Marseille, I was fascinated by the miles of coastline, very similar to the California coast in geography and vegetation.  There were multiple arched bridges...I wondered how old they were.  I love the color of The Mediterranean water...sort of a cobalt blue.


Having never been to Provence, we chose a tour of Avignon and Les Baux.  We boarded a tour bus with our more than competent French guide, Corrina, an artist.  As we traveled through the countryside, she pointed out the olive tree orchards, vineyards, fields of sunflowers.  Many different shades of green.

Upon arrival in Avignon, we immediately saw the bridge at Avignon which crosses the Rhone River.  The construction began in the 12th century, and it was partially destroyed during periods of French unrest.  It was an important bridge, as it aided traffic flow to the Pope's Palace.

Corrina reminded us of the history of the Avignon 1305, the elected French pope, Clement V decided to live in Avignon, because of political unrest in Rome, and the next 6 (French) popes did the same.  This caused a schism in the Catholic church until about 1400, when the papacy moved back to Rome.  The Palais des Papes was built about 1330, with 15  20 foot walls, multiple towers, and buildings.  

Avignon's walls still stand.

Inside the walls, the Pope's residence.

 The massiveness of the buildings was hard to photograph from close by.

This is the window where the Pope would give his blessings.

The Bishop's Palace across the square.

 This is where the Pope held audiences...the chair is where he would sit, and notice he had his own window (no electricity!) on the left.

Painters came from Italy to produce the frescos...just beautiful, so well preserved.


The enclave room, where they would lock in the cardinals when choosing a new Pope.

 A room that once had three floors. 

The kitchen, with its' vent...quite the ceiling.

Original tiles, using the typical Provence colors of green and orange. 

 A newer building, built in the 1400s! 

 Looking out the Pope's blessing window.

We walked up a big hill, to the highest point in Avignon.

As we climbed, we saw a vineyard with scrap scarecrows.  It was so clear, from the Mistral, the wind that blows in Provence.  We could see towers that were miles away.  Remember the Mistral in Chocolat?

Again the bridge, with a remaining chapel that once held St. Benedict's relics, on the left.

 A fortress on the other side of the river.

At the top of the hill was an outdoor restaurant, where we had a Salad Nicoise - the real deal - and a glass of local Viognier, my favorite white wine.  What a treat!

We climbed up over a grotto, and had beautiful views of the old city and the Palace.

As we walked back to our bus, we saw some interesting side streets, and store with quilts!

 Tomorrow, Les Baux!


  1. We ate at the same restaurant I think. I've not been to Les Baux. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  2. How funny! The little outdoor cafe with the pond? Thanks for your posts, Suzanne!