To Palais des Papes

Time flies, doesn’t it?! It’s almost the end of August and I didn’t realise that I was stalling my “mum and daughter road trip” chronicle for such a long time. During the unusually hot summer, I was putting it off because I was exhausted from the heat – so was Bella, by the way. She ended up having a heat related stomach upset and ended up receiving a (costly) medical attention! After the heat had gone, I increased the intensity of my daily exercise, and again, ended up feeling too exhausted from it. It came to a point that I started to have telltale signs of over exercising such as sleeplessness, lack of appetite and motivation, forgetfulness, etc, and I had to stop everything physical until I felt better. Now, I am my normal self again and full of energy. So there is no reason why I shouldn’t start my travelogue.

After hopping on a Baladine bus at La Place Saint-Didier, mum and I headed to Avignon’s most famous tourist, Palais des Papes.

The mini-bus passed the famous les Halles d’Avignon…

We caught a glimpse of the hanging Garden of the market. ‘Oh mum, we must return here tomorrow!’, I gushed as I craned my neck to get a better look of the building.

I can remember exactly where we alighted the bus but it must have been around Hôtel la Mirande…

We found ourselves facing a tall stone wall and a path which was only wide enough for one car. The people around us were following the path, therefore, we decided to do likewise.

The path was rather steep but soon, we reached to the end of it and found ourselves at the mouth of a cavernous square.

‘Let’s visit the palace before it gets busy, mum!’, I hurried mum towards the entrance of the palace which was located on top of the stone stairs.

Luckily, it was Friday and the queue at a ticket office was not long.

After purchasing our tickets, we picked up an interactive exhibition guide in the shape of an iPad each and started to follow the route.

Between 1309 and 1376, seven successive popes lived and reigned at Avignon which was then a part of the Holy Roman Empire.

The first pope who moved the court in Rome to the city was Clement V, the newly elected French pope, Clement V.

In the middle of the each room, there was a sort of charging point for the interactive tablet.

You place the tablet over the screen which is mounted on the short plinth, voila!, the tablet is ready to show you the sceneries of the room in the 14th century!

There were some architectural models of the palace.

Some rooms were partly restored so the visitors could imagine how the life in the palace was like.

Once upon a time, the ceiling was richly decorated with beautiful fresco so the popes and his guests felt grand and cozy.

The room was divided with partitions constructed from pieces of timber and richly woven textile.

Large fire used to roar in the huge fire place.

Money and treasures which were donated by the kings and the pilgrims were kept in the basement of the palace. The door to the bookkeeper’s room looked formidable and made me imagine how the money and wealth was important to the popes…

After visiting the exhibition, we decided to have lunch at a café on the roof.

While we munched on panini, we could enjoy a bird’s eye view of the squares below from the windows of the eatery.

Now, we are visiting the famous Bridge of Avignon!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lovely Baladine

After enjoying a bit of retail therapy at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, we continued on Rue des Trois Faucons in s eastward direction. ‘We should hop on a Baladine if one comes along.’ I looked back towards Place des Corps Saints. The sun started to beat down brightly and I was worried if the walk was straining mum’s hip before our visit to Palais des Papes.

Baladine on the move…

 

Baladine was an electric-powered mini bus which went along a designated route every 15 minutes.

A green line with “BAL” was the route of Baladine. The bus would stop at any point as long as the destinations of the passengers were near the wriggly loop.

The size of the mini bus was small – 4 adults plus 2 children if they were toddlers.

Cars, except the ones with permit, were banned from the city centre in Avignon. While we were watching Baradine in action, we witnessed the drivers touching in & out of the streets which were equipped with automatic bollards. As the pass card was pressed to the reader on the column, the bollard lowered itself to the ground level so the bus could entered the street.

Come and enjoy the ride with us!

 

Isn’t Baladine lovely? For this, it costs only 0.60€. What a bargain!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Laundrette @ Avignon

One of the problems everyone faces during a holiday, which lasts longer than a few days, has to be how to deal with your dirty laundry. Our trip was over 16 days and as the days went by, our worn clothings started to take up more space in our suitcases.

‘It would be great if there were any laundrette near by’, mum sighed as she went through her luggage. We were planning to stay in Avignon for three days, therefore, it would be ideal if we could sort out dirty washing during our stay.

At the hotel reception, I found a man on a ladder, trying to fix a light bulb above the entrance. ‘Bonjour!’, I greeted him not too loudly so he wouldn’t be startled. ‘Bonjour, madam!’, he smiled as he lowered himself down the steps.

Once he was behind the desk, I asked if there was any laundrette within a walking distance. ‘Oh yes, there is a one at the end of the street in front of the hotel!’ Oh cool!

‘Could you change this note to small change?’ I produced €5 from my pocket. As he was checking their till, another staff came out from the kitchen and told us that she had just used up all the small change they had in order to pay a delivery. ‘Désolé.’, they apologised.

Ok, I must do some small shopping with this note and get some coins. There was a gift shop on Cours Jean Jaurés and I ended up buying a small lavender soap in the shape of a cicada.

With a few euro coins in my pocket, I returned to the hotel. ‘L’opération a réussi?’, the staff on the ladder wanted to know and I gave him the big thumbs up.

At the end of the street, a laundrette awaits me!

The street in front of the hotel ended when it met Place des Corps Saints.

‘Oh bu**er! Why didn’t we come here for dinner yesterday?!’ The square was surrounded by lovely looking cafes and restaurants, and there were many tables under the shade which would have offered beautiful alfresco dining. I was gutted.

Anyway, I have a mission to complete.

Tadah!

There was no one when I walked in and I never used a laundrette in London so I had no idea how it worked…

It was a bit daunting.

Let’s study an instruction…

I forgot to take pictures but there was another machines, one took the payment and the other dispensed a laundry detergent.

In the end, everything was kind of self-explanatory – you put coins into the machine and it lit up the the options available according to the amount of the coins inserted. I chose mixed wash under 4kg and also bought detergent. As the coins fell through, a slot on the wall, a small opening a few feet away, spat out the detergent! Haha, what a fun. I would have loved to see the inside of the wall.

I made a bit of mess when I was putting the detergent in a tray. Well, it crumbled without warning!

The wash was to be ready in 35 minutes so I went back to my hotel and had another cup of coffee with mum.

Then, I had to go back to put the laundry in a tumble dryer.

 

On the door of the dryer, there was a message to the staffs and owners of the local eateries. It warned that some laundries with fat and oil still left on the fabrics may catch fire while being tumble-dried! Oh please be careful..,

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Avignon’s City Hall

After leaving Place de l’Horloge with a bad aftertaste, we decided to check out the city hall which stood at the opposition side from the restaurant. During the dinner, we noticed some people were walking in and out of the door and it was intriguing.

‘Hello, is anyone here?’

Strangely, we found the place deserted. There was an airport style metal detector and a long table but we saw no security staff. Where did they go? We were puzzled.

Oh well, let’s give the place the once over anyway, we started our tour.

In the middle of the open space, there was an installation with flowers, a sparkly globe and gravel. Is it an indoor garden?, I was not sure. How can I put it? The installation was kind of odd. It didn’t look like a temporary display but also not good enough to be a permanent one. How do you utilise entrance halls of public buildings? It would be as easy as one imagined, I thought.

On our way home, we came across a large Monoprix and mum found a very stylish top in teal blue. She was delighted with the top because she didn’t bring many short-sleeved tops.

Now, let’s go back and have some rest because we are gonna visit Palais des Papes tomorrow. How exciting!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tourist trap @ Avignon

Yes, we were conned and we had learnt our lesson, “Never never eat anything near tourist spots!” How we managed to make such a basic mistake? Well, let me explain…

Our first afternoon in Avignon was very summery – hot and humid. ‘Mum, do you fancy ice cold beer?’

Around Place de l’Horloge, there were many cafes and restaurants which offered alfresco dining. May be we can have beer and dinner at one of them, we thought.

‘I fancy paella because I haven’t eaten rice for a while.’, mum pointed at one of the eateries which was displaying a large menu with photographs. As soon as we stopped in front of the menu, a middle aged man with an apron around his hip appeared and started chatting in English. ‘Two of you? For dinner? Ok, ok, sit here. What do you wanna drink?’ He ushered us to one of the tables and handed us laminated menu.

While we contemplated what to eat, our beers were brought to the table.

Cheers, mum!

What the he** is that?, you may ask. Apparently, this was my seafood “noodle” paella. The noodle turned out to be just broken up spaghetti and apart from single very limp mussel and a couple of squid rings, the dish was devoid of any “seafood”. I was disgusted because it was nothing like the image on their menu.

Mum’s seafood paella did marginally better by sporting slightly more fillings. Still, it tasted mediocre and could hardly justify the price of €15.

Probably, the “noodle” paella was the worst food I had ever tasted in my life – too greasy and too salty. I ended up leaving more than half of the wretched crusty spaghetti on the plate.

Then, the guy reappeared and he had the cheek to ask me if I liked the dish. I replied, ‘Pas du tout.’, giving the thumbs down.

He shrugged his shoulders and cleared our table. Allez, M.Thickskin, I silently swore to his back. What a tourist trap!

In front of the city hall, two guys were busking…

We would have enjoyed their performance more if our meal wasn’t a rip-off and the guy wasn’t so cocky! Mum and I left the place, feeling very very annoyed.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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