Friday, May 25, 2012

Provence 2 and Paris part I

Day 2 in Provence - in the morning, we took the train to Avignon.  First we visited the Palais des Papes - Palace of the Popes - which is where the francophone popes ruled during the Great Schism period beginning with Clement V.  It was mostly just empty rooms since it was raided during the French Revolution.  And my audio guide froze halfway through.  But it had its moments.
Entry to Palace of the Popes

Next we took the bus to the Pont (bridge) du Gard, which was part of the 30-mile long acqueduct built by the Romans to supply the city of Nimes with water when southern France was a very important part of the Roman Empire.  It supplied the city with 100 gallons per minute of water.  It's a massive struture located more or less in the middle of nowhere, which meant there were awesome views of the Provencale countryside.  It seemed like the area would a great place to go kayaking or canoeing without being disturbed.

the Pont du Gard

View from the Pont du Gard

Next to the pont, there was an 1,100 year old tree. Just after I took this picture a hoard of loud French kids ran up to it and started hugging it a climbing it.  But I guess if you're 1,100 years old then you've seen tougher times.

1,100 year old tree

Paris has been really cool.  We started on Wednesday with the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) which is near our hostel.  It's on a hill called Montmartre, from which the neighborhood of Montmartre takes it's name.  It's the hill (mont) of of martyrs (martre) where Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, was killed.  The basilica now stands on the hill as a pilgrimage site and place to pray for humankind's wellbeing:

Of course, it's also a tourist mecca.  The location offers amazing views of central Paris looking south from this northern hill:

View from about halfway up Montmartre hill

This goes up to midday on Wednesday.  Next, I went to the Eiffel Tower.  I'll post more about Paris later, hopefully tomorrow night.  Sunday, it's on to Amsterdam.

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