Today was my last class trip for my history class. We went to Avignon to see the Palace of the Popes. On the way to Avignon my friend Sally and I talked about how we are sad to be leaving but will be happy to be home in a way. She doesn’t really want to leave at all but we both know that this place is being special because of the friends that we have and the families that we have. She says that she never wants to come back because it won’t be as special because it is made special by the group. I kind of see that. I think there is definitely merit to that but I think I still will want to come back and visit my host family. It will be interesting to see what kind of person Paul turns into. I know it will be hard to stay in touch with Madame but I want to try anyways. Sally and I talked for most of the ride there about this and that. Mostly about France and our whole experience. There is a cooking class to learn to make the chocolate truffles which we want to try and do this coming Saturday. Also Catching Fire comes out here on Wednesday so we want to do that this coming week. She has already seen it because she went to the premiere but I haven’t seen it yet. It is out though in every other European country except for here though. So that is a bit annoying! But oh well.
When we finally got to Avignon about 45 minutes later we didn’t really want to stop talking. We parked the bus next to the Pont d’Avignon (bridge) with the promise that we would come back and could dance on it before we left for the day. You have to dance on the bridge because there is a children’s song here that is just as popular as ring around the rosy. So we skipped past the bridge and went through the remains of the rampart that surrounded the city and in to find ourselves in front of the enormous Palais des Papes, or Palaces of the Popes.
Holy cow that was a big building! It was really cool looking on the outside and looked like a castle because it was built in the castle style architecture. It has the cut outs at the top towers and also the holes in the wall that you could shoot arrows out of. It even had the towers above the door that you could open the bottom of and throw things at enemies trying to come in. It was pretty awesome! Though this being a religious place that wasn’t exactly needed especially because it was protected by the Comte de Provence and his army and then the French army. But it was still really cool looking. Our bus split into two groups and my group went with our normal professor. We went and toured the palace which was pretty cool. There were a lot of cool art pieces and it was kind of cool to see the architecture and the rooms that they used in the 1500’s. There were lots of bay windows where you could sit and look out the window. I thought they were really pretty and I hope one day to have a window like that that I can sit in and look out. I like sitting in windows and have always want to be able to.
We walked around for a couple hours and looked at all the rooms. There were some that were painted which we weren’t allowed to take pictures of, so naturally I did a little bit. WHAT. Don’t tell! It was really beautiful though. We saw where the monks would eat and where the pope would live and one of the coolest parts of it I thought was seeing all of the chimneys. I thought those were really cool and I can only imagine the amount of work to keep all of those going all of the time during the winter so that no one froze. Though maybe they did because weren’t monks supposed to use things very sparingly? I think so. So I wonder how often they really did light them, though because it was the pope I would think that they would light them more often than most monasteries. We also learned that 1/3 of the annual budget used to go to food. They would have 12 course meals every night, if that doesn’t sound like indulging to me then I don’t know what is!
We also looked out the window of indulgence where the Pope used to greet his honored guests because it overlooked the courtyard. He would then forgive their sins and bless them and all that. Next we went up on top of the building to a lookout tower. It was SOOO windy! The Rhone region gets more wind than we do that is for sure! It was super windy that no one wanted to stay out very long because it was already cold and with the wind it just got worse. But it was really pretty to look out over Avignon. But it was very windy!
After that we all left the Palais des Papes and went through Avignon to a little museum that had some sculptures in it that we had studied at the beginning of the semester. It was kind of cool but also we were all starving and ready to get lunch. Sally and I wanted to get home before 6 so that we could go to a big firework show thing that was supposed to happen in Aix at 6. Ideally we would have liked to be home at 4 to see the inauguration of the Christmas lights but we knew that wasn’t going to happen. After a quick run around the museum we were released or a two hour lunch break but we learned we should be back by 5:30 to Aix.
We headed out in the direction that Patrick said there was restaurants. He had come here earlier in the term and stayed a weekend with the rest of the group but Sally and I hadn’t been in town to go with. We went off in that direction and after a while started drilling him on where the heck we were actually going because there was nothing in sight the way that we were going. He said we were heading towards a Japanese restaurant. Then a guy in front of us turned around and was like I think you mates are going the wrong way and he pointed us back the other direction. We thanked him and turned around. I have noticed here that when I listen to other people who seem like they know where they are going, they don’t really ever know… It is kind of annoying. I at least say I think it is this way but I’m not sure. But oh well whatever. We found the place eventually that Patrick was looking for but Sally didn’t want Japanese and I don’t eat seafood so we were like why were we trying to find this place in the first place? So then we went back to the main road and found a cute restaurant to eat lunch at.
Sally and I got Lasagna and Patrick got beef tartar. I can’t get past the idea of eating raw meat and a raw egg, it just doesn’t sound healthy to me so I haven’t had tartar. I also had tea which was really good and I decided I miss tea and should try to find it more often. It was very good and we had a nice time talking. The lasagna was delicious and came with a green salad which was very healthy and I decided that I missed salads as well. It was good and a lady sitting next to us that teaches English to foreigners leaned over and started talking to us. She was really nice. Though then we left and ventured a bit in the city. We found a Carrefour where I bought speculoos and smurfs. We also found that they had Reeses! So that was pretty cool to find but we didn’t buy any. It was weird though because they came in a 3 pack. In the states they are in 2’s or 4’s but I have never seen them in 3’s.
Then we left there and went to look at the chalets. They had more of a mix of things for sale but most of them were like food products that you would cook at your house. So we got some hot wine and then called it good. This wine was more alcoholy and winey than the other that I had in Marseille. I didn’t like it as much. But it was okay. Just not as good. Then we called it quits for lunch and went to the Petit Palais for the next part of our Avignon Education.
In here there was a lot more art. We looked at a couple different pieces but most of it was all very similar to me. It was really pretty but I can only look at art for so long until I am like okay great lets go. We looked at a couple different images of Mary holding Christ and then compared them. There was one that I liked a lot and then a picture of Saint Catherine holding a giant sword. Go girl power! It was pretty cool. We looked at the art for quite a while and because there was no glass over the paintings there was a person in each room that would tell us to back up if we went within two feet of any work. So that was a bit annoying. They should just get glass to cover each one… A lot cheaper than paying all these people to sit around in each room.
But whatever! One we were done there, we went to the bridge. There are a lot of supposed facts about the bridge that are all false. Some people think that the bridge has never been completed to reach the other side. This is wrong. The King of France (before France was completely united as the country it is now) once wanted to cross the bridge. But he was denied by the Comte de Provence so he said fine I will just destroy it. So then they rebuilt it again. And then the exact same thing happened like 50 years later. So then they just never rebuilt it again. But now there are plenty of other bridges to it just stays half done on principal because the French Government when it was led by a King once the regions were united was still mad about it so there has since then never been any government money sent to fix it, and now it is a big tourist attraction with the legends that it has never been finished. There is also the rumor that because the river is too deep or too strong that it is impossible to finish it. But that is wrong too because it has been finished. More recently in the 1850’s a song came out called Sur le Pont d’Avignon.
In the song it goes (translated):
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there, we all dance there
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there in a ring
So naturally when you get on the bridge you have to DANCE! So we went to the end and took pictures (changing the song to jump instead of dance).Then on our way back Sally and I danced the whole way looking like crazies. It was really fun. Then we realized that we were the last ones on the bridge so we ran to catch up with the group. They were just in the gift shop though so it was all good! I bought some post cards which all had the bridge on them and then we were off! We got back on the bus and the other class was already on it! So probably they all saw Sally and I dance on the bridge. But who cares we had fun! The bus left and then had to loop around because we forgot two people. Oops! Then we rode the bus back to Aix.