Friday, March 31, 2006

Bridge on the River Rhone

This should have been posted a couple of days ago BUT I've been having a few problems with t'internet. I seem to have fixed them now but I have no idea how!!

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours - J B Priestley

Hello - I've just returned from a lovely long weekend in Avignon which, in case you don't know, is in Provence on the way to Marseille. It is a charming and beautiful city, the centre of the catholic church and home to the popes for the best part of the 14th century. The Palais de Papes is a major attraction, even without a resident pope, and is massive ornate and pretentious. I have to admit that we didn't spend the whole day required to explore it; we just inspected and admired the outside and relaxed in the large square in front of it drinking coffee and people-watching.

Pont St. Benezet is the other famous Avignon landmark. Yes, the very same Pont d'Avignon that children almost everywhere must sing about (or they used to. I checked with a couple and they'd never heard of it!). This bridge was built, according to legend, by a shepherd boy, Benezet, after a vision of Jesus in 1177 told him to do so. Originally it crossed the Rhone with 22 arches, 2 chapels and stretched over the Ile de Barthelasse (one of the largest river islands in Europe) for approximately one kilometre to Villeneuve sur Avignon (where the cardinals built their palace) on the far side. After a serious flood in the 1660's, when the water rose a metre higher than the river, most of it was swept away and now all that remains are 4 arches 1 chapel and it doesn't reach very far at all.

So many other things to marvel at in and around this lovely place: Roman aqueducts, arenas, temples and so much more. The weather was more than kind to us and now Avignon is on my ever-growing list of places to revisit.

The only negative things I have to say are:

  • I did not like having to pick my way through dog shit to get where I had to go.
  • for a beautiful and very cultural city the authorities don't seem to take the problem of modern graffiti very seriously

However, they won't stop me going back.

1 comment:

jomoore said...

What a terrific post! I want to go there...!