Mistral, the Wind of Death
Trip Start May 22, 2005
107Trip End Jan 22, 2006
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It was in Orange that we had our first introduction to the Mistral, an extremely strong wind that blows down the Rhone River from Lyon, sweeping through Provence on its way down to the Mediterranean. We had a very windy picnic in Orange during which we spent most of our time trying to keep our food from being blown away by the Mistral
Provence is known for its sunflowers and lavender. We saw sunflower fields from the train and lavender grew on the roadsides.
We took a day trip to Avignon which is a walled city historically known as the residence of nine popes in the 14th century. The popes built the Palais des Papes in 20 years. It is the biggest Gothic palace in the world and a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site. Avignon is also the home of Pont d'Avignon, another UNESCO World Heritage site and the bridge sung about in the famous children's nursery rhyme. It's now a bridge to nowhere as it ends halfway across the Rhone River due to damage from flooding.
In modern times, Avignon is known for its annual performing arts festival which was taking place during our visit. Plays are put on throughout the city and during the day, the companies go out on the streets to promote their particular play. They would sing, dance, act and basically do anything to try to top each other in order to sell tickets. One of the stranger promotions included a man dressed as a baby with a giant soother in a motorized carriage talking baby talk
Our last stop in Provence was Arles. We spent an afternoon in the charming town, another walled city with an ubiquitous Roman colosseum and amphitheatre. We've realized that the Roman colosseum and amphitheatre are like the modern day cineplex--there's one in every town and violent spectacles are the main attraction.
In France, if you order a sandwich with fries, it's more likely that the fries will come stuffed in the sandwich rather than on the side. Gunner took the plunge and scarfed one of these down. Such a little girl with such a big sandwich.