(The next half-dozen posts will be coming from Europe, where I have the good fortune to be on a three week road trip with my husband, Keith. If you’ve visited these sites before, I hope they bring back good memories; if you haven’t, I hope you enjoy the ride.)
Flying into Nice in the south of France could have been a little crazy since the Cannes Film Festival was still in progress, but on the contrary, it was calm and quiet and nothing at all like bustling Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. We quickly leased our rental car, a Skoda (I would come to regret that Keith had opted for standard transmission), and we were on our way.
Our first stop was Avignon, known as the “City of Popes.” It became the residence of the Popes in 1309, when the Gascon Bertrand de Goth, as Pope Clement V, unwilling to face the violent chaos of Rome after his election in 1305, moved the Papal Curia there. We’d found our hotel, The Medieval, which is in the heart of Old Town, through bookings.com, and now we found it in person after winding our way through narrow cobblestone streets. Upon arrival we were told our room was on the “second” floor. Since we had to park in a lot blocks away, we decided to not leave anything in the car. In the absence of an ascenseur, this necessitated me carrying two hundred pounds of luggage of three flights of stairs while my husband parked the Skoda.
The only way to recover from this sort of stressful activity is to (a) take a nap; (b) have chocolate; (c) eat; (d) have a glass of wine. We went for (c) and (d) at Couscouserie, a nearby restaurant that features Moroccan fare. Remarking to our waiter that we liked the murals in what appeared to be windows on some buildings in the area, he explained that the city wanted to tax “views,” and so homeowners and proprietors of businesses simply closed up the openings and got creative.
The following morning we visited the Palais des Papes, the Pont d’Avignon, and found yet more mural windows. Strolling back toward the hotel, we found L’Eglise de Saint Pierre and admired the architecture and a statue of Joan of Arc.
Sandwiches for the road from an organic restaurant were just what we needed as we checked out of the hotel and headed for the beach at Sanary sur Mer.