heat, historic sights, swimming and more false starts than a garage full of Holdens
05.09.2014 - 05.09.2014 32 °C
It was our last full day in France, and we didn’t rush at anything too quickly.
The girls wanted a last minute bit of shopping and Marg traipsed round after them. Meanwhile, I took a trial run out to the train station. Tomorrow we have to get there, drop off our rental and get the train for Florence. I’m pleased I did because I took a few wrong turns, even with Helen’s help, who must have had a late night, because she was quite hesitant at barking out her instructions. Either that or I wasn’t listening.
Anyway the girls and I reunited at the “Supermarche” to buy up our last supplies, headed back to our apartment, made lunch and headed out for our last sight seeing trip in Avignon.
This time we drove across the Rhone to Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. To those keen historians, or readers of our blog, you will know that “back in the day” the west side of the Rhone was French territory and the east side was Italian.
Being the frontier town, the French needed forts and walls to keep an eye on those pesky Popes and the rest of those dodgy Italians.
First stop was the Chartreuse Pontifcale du Val de Benediction. (Don’t worry, we don’t know what it means either) It is a Carthusian monastery founded in 1356 by Pope Innocent the VI. He donated the land and founded a monastery on the French side of the Rhone. Motivated by politics or religion I can’t be sure. Bear in mind a French abbey founded in the 10th century was next door.
The Italian abbey was built for 12 monks initially and expanded 50 years later to accommodate 24. During the revolution in the 1700s it was abandoned, and the art and library were sold, and the accommodation units sold off.
Since the late 1800s, a project has been in place to re acquire ownership and return the historic site to its former glory. It is no longer an abbey, but is a good museum to show what live was like. The main chapel has a collapsed end, but the rest is has been well preserved or restored.
We saw into one of the monk’s quarter’s. A bedroom, an office, a workshop and access on to a garden. Each unit had a service hatch through the thick walls, where their meals and instructions were delivered each day.
The abbey had several “cloisters” or gardens/courtyards, where they could be at one with God.
It has been lovingly restored and most of the “units” have been renovated and rented out to artists, to find a different kind of inspiration.
Also of note, it is the final resting place of Pope Innocent VI.
Then it was on to the neighbouring and older abbey. Abbaye Saint Andre and the surrounding fort, Fort Saint Andre. We thought we had tickets into the abbey as part of our entry into the previous abbey, but that was just trickery, or a misunderstanding. We did have access to the fort, but not the abbey.
The abbey (Saint Andre) was foundered in the 900’s, but the fortification wasn't built until the 1200s with the Italians starting to exert their authority of the east bank of the Rhone.
The abbey (St Andre) looked much bigger and nicer but we passed up the offer to buy tickets for another 10 euro each, and just looked at the fort. Initially we thought, “lets just go”. We had promised the girls another trip to the pool. But we forged on in the searing heat and were pleased we did so. Initially it gave us some great views over Avignon, particularly the Palais de Papes.
We eventually found our way to the top of the wall, and it gave a us a great outlook over Avignon, on the other side of the Rhone, the previous abbey and the ramparts of the fortification. So it was well worth it.
We then headed for the pool. Much deserved too I might add. I persuaded the “boss” of the pool to let me in, in my trunks, and not speedos. He agreed. I think his memory of me from earlier in the week was fresh in his mind, so he quickly agreed. The women folk seemed equally as pleased.
It was much quieter, as it was mid week, and we think the schools have gone back after their summer holiday. The two hours in the pool was marvellous. Madison went off the 3.0m diving board, on the promise I would go off the 5.0m board. Madison hesitated at the top, but took the plunge. Thereafter she was like a lemming, throwing herself repeatedly off the board…..and loving it!
So up to the 5.0m board I manfully strode. My golly gosh it’s a long way down!! Several false starts and then I flew through the air with the grace of a hippo falling of a cliff.
Mackenzie and Madison were both bribed with double scoop ice creams, and hot chips if they too, took the 5.0m plunge.
After more false starts than a clapped out Holden, Mackenzie took the plunge. Slightly more graceful than I. Madison also broke the Holden record for false starts, before finally refusing.
As Mackenzie licked lovingly at her ice cream, Madison strolled purposefully back to the pool. Stared the 5.0m board down to size and confronted her demons. To give her courage she jumped off the 3.0m board first, then ascended the 5.0m board. One false start then off she went. (Obviously a Ford)
Ice cream and hot chips never tasted so good.
By then it was 7.00 pm, and time for home.
Tomorrow we are on the train bound for Italy.