A Modern Day Schism
Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
28Trip End Dec 11, 2013
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What I did
Avignon, Les Baux, and Marseilles
I will not go into the history of the City of Marseilles, as the Susans talk about that sort of, but I will tell you a little bit about Provence:
I was founded by the Greeks
The area industrialized after World War I– there are lots of petroleum refineries here.The winds are known as the Mistral winds. We all got Mistraled a lot on this voyage It was really cold. You all know that lots of artist were either born in Provence or painted there.
So moving on to Avignon. In the 13th century, there were lots of small wars in this area and the Popes lived like kings. They were heavily involved in politics and had armies etc. From time to time they had to flee Rome due to these wars. They came to Avignon. Then King Philip I of France decided there should be a French Pope and worked on influencing the cardinals to elect a French Pope. He succeeded and the French Pope didn’t want to leave home and live in Rome, so he stayed in Avignon
We got to Avignon and saw the famous Pont d’Avignon, which all of you who took French in high school are probably still able to sing about. It was the only bridge to span the Rhone river, and connect Marseilles to the rest of France. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The last time it was destroyed, they didn’t rebuild it, so it just spans half of the Rhone now.
We toured the Pope’s Palace and learned that it is build in many different styles
e then had some free time around Avignon and had a nice lunch at a café on the Rue du la Republic.
Then we got back on the bus and drove to an interesting town called Les Baux. The drive from Avignon to Les Baux was incredibly beautiful. We drove the back roads and saw vineyards and olive groves, We drove through Val de Provence which was also beautiful. It is the birthplace of Nostradamus and is where the hospital that Van Gogh was in is. It is still in business.
Les Baux was an interesting town because it was a town that French protestants took refuge in after the mean old King destroyed their town. It is perched on a mountain top and now contains many shops
fter a walk around Les Baux, we came back to the ship to learn that the Susans had once again lost at trivia and there was no bingo game.
And here is what the Susans did:
This is the Susans who went off on their own tour of Marseille City highlights. Marseille is the second largest city in France founded by the Greeks in 600 BC. We were amazed at the Old Port which held 3,000 boats and combined with the new port is the 5th largest port in the world.
We drove past the oldest abbey in France and then saw the island that held the Count of Monte Cristo. Our first real stop was at Notre Dame de la Garde where we were greeted by 127 steps to the door and then there were another 3,000,000 steps to the top. (Yes Sue is exaggerating slightly). It was an unusual day in that it did not rain, however still cloudy and brisk
Marseille is the first city we have been in which was seriously touched by both World Wars I and II. Throughout the tour our guide told many stories about how the wars had touched her family. It is also evident in the architecture which is much newer than the other cities we have visited due to serious bombing in World War II.
Marseille is the home of bouillabaisse which used to be the favorite dish of the poor and now is a luxury at 40 to 50 Euros for a bowl. We passed on the experience and opted for jewelry instead.
Marseille was also the home of rope manufacturing for many years, as evidenced by the long streets and many old shops.
Getting around in Marseille is daunting. It makes San Francisco look positively flat and as all over Europe, everyone drives like a crazy person.
It took us a while on the tour to understand that our tour guide's references to "Joanne of Hark" was really Joan of Arc.
Just a side note which Andrea failed to include - we learned in Provence that the most expensive perfume uses sperm whale vomit as a fixative. Sue was way more fascinated by this than anyone else. Andrea adds: This is called Ambergris.