Spent the day in Avignon, a medieval city surrounded by stone walls. For 70 years during the 14th Century, it displaced Rome as the papal seat of the Catholic Church. Today it is a modern city of rare charm, perhaps best known to outsiders as the home of the namesake bridge in “Sur Le Pont D’Avignon,” a catchy little ditty that made its debut in 1853.
We checked out the bridge early and late, at ground level and from a hillside well above it. Built to span the Rhone in the 12th Century, it was destroyed during the Crusades, then rebuilt, badly, a couple of hundred years later, then abandoned when it started to fall apart. Today only four of the original 22 arches survive. It’s a little odd – not to say surreal – to see a bridge end halfway across a river, but it remains a thing of beauty.
We ate lunch at a great little restaurant called La Fourchette. It was recommended to us by Mathieu Rochet’s mom. Mathieu, a friend of ours, is a filmmaker based in Lyon. His mom lives in Avignon. We assumed that the restaurant would be a quaint, old-fashioned spot, built along the lines of a typical bouchon. In fact, it was modern, elegant, and airy. The food was fantastic. The Husband was delighted to see brandade among the first courses. I chose duck breast with sautéed plums as my main course. We washed it all down with Chateauneuf du Pape, a local brand with an international rep.
Not to be outdone, the ship rolled out a five-course dinner that evening. Afterwards, we spent some time out on the deck, marveling at the moon and the stars. For dessert, some Armagnac and the night air. Life is tough.