Avignon and Pont du Gard (March 2017)

I had this thought, after visiting Chamonix Mont Blanc, why not head over to Bordeaux and travel up the coast.  Not withstanding the fact it’s a 500 mile journey to Bordeaux, I had already been there.  The next thought was, why not try the Mediterranean coast, I haven’t been there before.  But the French Mediterranean coastline is over 400 miles long.  Where do I start and where do I go?  I approached a friend and asked whether I should head towards Montpellier and Carcassonne or whether I should opt for Aix-en-Provence and Gorges du Verdon.  They suggested Aix-en-Provence and amongst other suggestions the flamingos at Carmague, it was at this point that I was sold.

Avignon

My first stop was Avignon, I did struggle with the GPS coordinates to find the Aire I was hoping to stay on.  I ended up driving into the walled part of the city, which, with its narrow streets was not a great idea in a motorhome.  Eventually I found the Bagatelle campsite, which in fairness was ok, but super close to the city.

Avignon is dominated by Le Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes).  In the 14th century the Pope moved the Papal court to Avignon.  During the 70 years the Papal court was in Avignon, 7 “Official’ Popes held court and they transformed what was a modest building into the imposing fortified palace it is today.  Entry to the palace was €13.50, but this included access to the Pont Saint-Bénézet (Saint-Bénézet bridge), which is the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

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Palais des Papes

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Pont Saint-Benezet

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I loved Avignon and the squares filled with bars and restaurants.  It is a very romantic city. Avignon, we will meet again…

Pont du Gard

I hadn’t heard of Pont du Gard before I read about it in my travel guide, in fact this region of France has many remnants of Roman rule.  In my opinion, the 2000 year old Pont du Gard is an excellent example of Roman engineering prowess; it’s the world’s tallest Roman bridge (49 m / 160 ft) and it only took 5 years to build. It carried water 50 km from the springs at Uzès to Nîmes and was in use for over 400 years.

There are two carparks in which to stay, one either side of the River Gard, the one I choose didn’t have an awful lot of amenities, but it is only a short walk to the other side, where you can find the museum, cafe and shops.

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Entry to Pont du Gard was effectively free, I just had to pay €8.50 for parking and I could have stayed there the night.  Unfortunately, Montpellier was calling me.  I know!  I had chosen the other direction to visit, but motorhome travel is all about going with the flow…

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