Popes, Antipopes and Chateauneuf du Pope

Trip Start Nov 24, 2010
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Trip End Jul 14, 2011


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Flag of France  , Provence,
Monday, June 6, 2011

June 5

Thiers, yes that's where we stayed (lost a night for a bit…took a few minutes to remember).

After leaving Amboise we enjoyed the countryside along the Loire River and ended up in crazy steep Blois for a couple of hours trying to find some gazole (diesel) pour l'auto. Back on the road again finally we caught the beginning of the Nadal/Federer match in Gannat (very tiny) over beer and a huge platter of bread, cheese, pates and pickles - tres bien! We then arrived at our hotel in Thiers and managed to catch the end of the match. Fed started out well but in the end was no match for the determined and talented Nadal.

Thiers is also a crazy steep hillside town. It is disappointing that it is so difficult to stop and park in many of the small towns so often our sightseeing was limited to the inside of the car while squeezing through narrow roads and trying to decipher the road signs. I suspect that we went down more than one one-way the wrong way! But we added no new dints to the already dinted rental car. In fact, I noted that most cars we saw in France had some dints and/or paint transfer. And the French are very talented, I might add, at parallel parking into very tight spots. Of course, it helps that they are not concerned about tapping the autos in front or behind in the process.

June 6

Avignon

On the way to Avignon via beautiful vineyards, fields of lavender and farmland, we stopped at Chateauneuf du Pape – how could we not! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teauneuf-du-Pape And the views from the top of the old chateau were amazing. I’m sorry to say that we didn’t manage to take many camera photos of the countryside, mostly just with the eye camera. Again, the camera doesn’t do justice to the beautiful scenery. I think it is the church steeples and old stone buildings peeking out of the many shades of green beyond the blue rivers and lavender lavender that makes it irresistible to so many painters and writers over the years to try and capture it. And the sun – after all, it’s all about light.

We had the lovely Hotel Corbert booked but ended up staying at the Ibis again, not because we wanted to but because there was a parking spot! Yes, it is that bad. Also the Corbert was on a walking street meaning we had to park blocks away and carry our gear and pay 24 euros for private parking (makes Calgary look cheap!) Avignon was not quite as amazing (except for Amorino gelato and its beautiful location on the Rhone River) as we expected but we are getting way too spoiled from the many lovely villages we’ve passed through between Normandy and here. And we are embarrassed to say that it is starting to take a lot to impress us - or we could have just been tired from all the driving and roundabouts. Avignon has a very interesting history, though, with its popes and antipopes (there’s a new word for us) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avignon
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