Thursday, May 23, 2013

Around Avignon

One of the many things I like about Avignon is that it is a hub from which you can easily visit many interesting towns and villages.  On this last trip I took Avi for my usual walk across the Rhone River to visit Villeneuve-les-Avignon.  On another day we took the train to Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue to see their famous outdoor market.  If there had been more days we would have also gone to Arles where Vincent van Gogh once lived, Carpentras where the oldest functioning synagogue in France is located, Orange, a town rich in Roman relics, Chateauneuf-du-Pape with its vineyards, and on and on.

There are few things as good for my spirit as a walk across the Rhone River to Villeneuve-les-Avignon.  The views along the walk are splendid.  Behind you looms the Pope’s Palace, upriver is the truncated Pont St-Bénezet of nursery song fame, and floating by are any number of boats and barges.
Once you get to Villeneuve you’re in a country village.  We happened to come on Armistice Day when tiny Villeneuve was having their commemoration.  There are some pretty views of the river and a river trail (that I have yet to explore), 14th-century Fort St-André, the Abbaye St-André gardens, Tour Phillippe le Bel, the Carthusian monastery Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, the village itself, which is very pretty, and a decidedly atmospheric riverside café – a guinguette -- where we had our lunch.  
Tour Phillippe le Bel
Fort St-André
Abbaye St-André gardens
(door to WC!)

A village house

Lunch at La Guinguette du Vieux Moulin

Renoir's guinguette
 Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, called by some a mini Venice, is as famous for its antique and brocante dealers as it is for the canals that once powered the silk industry and paper mills.  Shopping at the market is a pleasure.  There are more antique shops in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue than you could shake a stick at, making it a treasure hunter’s delight… even if you don’t buy anything.  I didn't buy any antiques and the hell with fruit and veg.  I bought some fabulous nougat -- both the traditional and the lavender, yum!

One stand at the market was selling ingenious purses made of cork.  We admired them and eventually moved on.  Then Avi went back but shooed me away.  From a short distance I could see what he was doing – buying one of the purses I had admired.  He knew that I knew and I knew that he knew that I knew, etc.  One of us mumbled something about Christmas but it was never mentioned again.  The day he left, when I was getting ready for bed, I found it tucked under my pillow.  Pretty ingenious, and very thoughtful.

One afternoon I ducked into the Musée Angladon to see an exhibit of photos from 1900-1925.  I love seeing old photos and getting a feel for how people dressed, what they did, how life looked. 



  1. Awwww I didn't think you would find it till the holidays!!

    Yo shure were a great tour guide. We went to a lot of great places.

  2. Beautiful photos!
    Glad you both had a good time.