Whilst on holiday in France we took a day trip to Avignon. Knowing nothing of the town beyond a famous song about the bridge it was all an adventure.
The approach gave us great hope as we admired the stunning city walls and famous bridge with expert direction from Mademoiselle Tom Tom. Studying the map from the tourist office we discovered this beautiful town was the home of the French Popes in the 14th Century. I was a little confused assuming the Pope only lived in Rome but apparently France split from Rome for 65 years and set up its own Pope complete with grand home in Avignon.
We sauntered down towards “Le Palace de Pope” with high hopes. The cafes were booming with tourists and locals out on the streets giving a wonderful buzz and delicious aromas in the late summer sun.
In the centre we stopped to admire the street performers and musicians. One Chinese couple really captured the kids imagination with the husband apparently sitting statue like on the end of a pole supported by his wife. I’m sure there was a cunning seat and stand within the costumes but it was a great effect. Guy couldn’t resist parting with a few Euros for him and to his delight was rewarded by the husbands face filling with animation and signalling for Guy to step forward and take one of the rolled up Chinese proverbs from the lantern. The others crowded in to read and he started the whole crowd copying which made Guy’s day and I’m sure the street performers too!
Clio couldn’t resist the market stand and bought bracelets to take home for her friends with my help to negotiate on the price for her. We celebrated with a quick selfie before the boys hurried us along.
The palace itself was a work of art stretching over 27 rooms. From the outside the architecture was simply stunning against the clear blue sky. For the kids this was enough cultural appreciation so we agreed on a split giving them money to go the MacDonald’s we had passed and meet us back at the tourist office later. This is a real advantage for us this year over previous years, being able to trust the children together in a strange town, a little independence for them and a chance to venture inside the place for us.
Having paid our 11 Euros each we entered in anticipation only to realise very quickly that in true French style the splendour was on the outside and internally there was nothing remaining but the walls. A helpful audio guide did give a feel for how life would have been but it could really have done with the National Trust touch with some old style props and pictures to bring the place to life. The enormous chimney in the centre of the kitchen did elect a wow from everyone passing through and the height and space of the rooms were impressive but apart from that the views out over Avignon, the central courtyards and gardens were the most impressive aspect of the tour!
We were delighted we hadn’t paid for the children to go in too, a trip with their cousin to a French MacDonald’s may not have been culturally enriching, but it certainly brought a smile to their faces and hadn’t put them off accompanying us on another day trip.
Back home there was only one thing to do: dive into the pool for an hour or so while we prepared the evening BBQ over a good bottle of wine and recounted the highlights of the day.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.