France honored my birthday yesterday by reconnecting me with the internet! It certainly makes life easier to be able to access email and train schedules from my room. I met up with friends throughout the birthday day and it was laid back and exactly the way I wanted to spend it. I don’t really like to be the certain of attention, but still like to mark the day in some fashion.
Continuing with my travel posts, we have another Avignon visit. The photos in this post are going to be Space Invader-centered, so I apologize in advance for that.
This was my parents’ first day in Provence and the weather was gorgeous. We started by going to the indoor market where we met up with fellow assistant Kat and her parents. It was awesome, because we got to team up as co-guides for the day. After appreciating the cheese, olives, bizarre meat displays, and produce of the market, we decided to buy a few calissons and a decadent provençal chocolate bar. Calissons are a specialty of Aix-en-Provence, but can be found throughout Provence and even in the area around Valence. They are basically a little almond-shaped candies made with citrus fruit paste topped with white icing, and the ones we bought were quite delicious. After that snack, we had lunch at a cafe and I ate a chevre chaud salad, while others in my group were more adventurous and got a fish dish that included a few escargots on the side. I think my parents both sampled them, but I played the vegetarian card and didn’t try them.
After lunch, we went to the Palais des Papes. It was a lot more crowded than last time I visited, when its massive rooms were absolutely empty. I skipped the tedious audioguide this time and tried to take in more of the historical information and architecture. After our tour of the palace, we visited the church next door that has the graves of a couple of popes and then we walked over to the Pont d’Avignon. It was incredibly windy as usual, although much less than the other time I went on the bridge and I didn’t feel like I was in too much danger of plunging into the Rhône. Although that has to happen to some poor tourist at least once a year, right? Google isn’t helping me with this theory.
Kat’s family had to start their drive back to her town, while my parents and me spent the rest of our day in Avignon drinking coffee and wandering the streets. We ended the day with sandwiches at a bakery before catching the train back to Valence. I think I’ve visited Avignon more than any other city in Provence and although I might have seen enough of the Palais des Papes and probably don’t need to dance again on the bridge, its streets and ambiance haven’t gotten old yet.