Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22, 2015 -- Avignon, France

This is my last full day in Avignon. Tomorrow I catch the train, or rather a series of trains, for Girona, Spain. At least I had decent weather today, and I took advantage of it by walking across one of the bridges to  Villeneuve-lez-Avignon or simply Villeneuve (New City). New is a relative term, as the New City also dates back to medieval times.

As I sat down to write this blog, I discovered that I had mislaid the micro USB cable that I use to transfer pictures from my camera to the tablet computer. Good old Google maps! I searched for a place that sells micro USB cables and Google Maps turned up one just two doors away. The longest part of the whole process was standing in line at the cash register to pay.

Half of the Rhône River with part of the island in the foreground and the medieval bridge in the background
The River Rhône splits at Avignon and runs on either side of a large island. The picture above was taken from halfway across one of the modern bridges. The land in the foreground is part of the island. The bridge is the background is what is left of the original Avignon Bridge, which is discussed in yesterday's blog entry. As you can see, the rain has stopped, and when I snapped this picture, the sky was clearing.

Some of the fortifications of the New City
The New City is much smaller than Avignon proper and apparently doesn't require much administration. Below is the Hôtel de Ville or City Hall, which seems to occupy little more than a storefront. As I was sitting in the plaza in front of City Hall, three employees came out and walked to a café across the street, presumably for their lunch break. I think they were the entire City Hall staff.

The New City's City Hall
The following picture shows a street that is pretty typical of the other streets I saw. There are some slightly wider through streets, but none that I saw was more than two lanes wide, one lane in either direction.

A typical street in the New C/ity
This tower bears the name Philippe le Bel or Phillip the Handsome. I had no idea who he was until I looked him up online. He was King Phillip IV of France. The original tower was build sometime before 1300 and was destroyed. The present tower was build in 1303 and added to in 1360. It was, of course, part of the defense infrastructure of Avignon.

The Tower of Philippe le Bel
I intend to spend tomorrow doing a lot of reading. I'll buy some food and beverage to take with me on the train, do some reading here in the hostel, saunter over to the train station, read some more, and finally read on the train. I'll be glad to say good-bye to this hostel. Its problem is that the afternoon staff all smoke heavily, and many of their friends show up to hang out with them. They all also smoke. Smoking is prohibited indoors in public areas in France, so they smoke in the small enclosed patio, but they leave the door open, and the cigarette smoke drifts into the hostel. Like some other ex-smokers, I have developed an allergy to cigarette smoke. It gives me a headache and causes a tight feeling in my chest. I simply cannot be around cigarette smoke.

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