Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Avignon, France

Le Mistral
Camping Bagatelle
By Claire

We decided to hit the road yesterday and put more kilometers on so we could at least have a few days in Provence and try to make up for lost time. We stopped along the way at our favorite supermarket, Carrefour, where I picked up a couple of fresh croissants as a surprise for Chuck. He wasn’t too keen on stopping for his morning break so I bibbed him up and we kept going.

We stopped at a fairly nondescript campground somewhere north of Avignon to rest up, use the facilities and buy some WiFi time @ €5 for 2 hours.

The wind was blowing when we arrived and it is now, clearly, Le Mistral, a vicious wind that blows 30-60 miles per hour through Provence about 100 days per year. But never mind, we are in Avignon, the oldest inhabited city in France! And it is beautiful! Our €13 campsite, located on the Ile de la Barthelasse, is a perfect location, only a short walk across the bridge over the Rhône and into the city.

View of Avignon from Campsite

Walking across Pont Edouard Daladier

The wind is just amazing. I was in fear of losing my glasses and purposely wore my dark glasses thinking they might help keep some of the debris out of my eyes. I even held onto them at times. Fortunately, it isn't cold, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. However, the Rhône has whitecaps and I think I saw someone surfing.

We walked around the town, located the Palais des Papes and toured the beautiful park, Rocher des Doms, which is an area that dates back to 4000 BC. This place is pretty old. The views from up top were spectacular and I was able to see Mont Ventoux. This is the one that was featured in this year’s Tour de France. I have a painting of this mountain and really wanted to see it in person.

St. Andre Fort. Built to counter the influence of the Papacy in France in 1360. You build yours, we’ll build ours.

Time for dinner and we walked 8 blocks along a promenade on our little island to Le Bercail, a wonderful recommendation from, you guessed it, Rick Steves. We loved it.

Evening View

UFO Cloud

Restaurant Le Bercail. Even arriving at 7:30 we are the first ones there, as usual. Others start arriving at 8 or 8:30. It was full by the time we left.

For my starter, I ordered a salad.

Salad Provencal

Chuck ordered the fish soup for his starter.

Fish Soup

The pan fried petite fish sounded just right. I didn't know it involved looking into the eyes of the fish and then eating them!

Petite Fish

Chuck was feeling manly, so he order the Bull stew.

Bull stewed in wine

My dream dessert. Anything coffee flavored.

Coffee ice cream with coffee sauce and whipped cream--homemade

We had a wonderful time at this warm and cozy little restaurant with Le Mistral whistling in the background. The walk home was really something. Face ripping wind and a view of Avignon all lit up. How do you beat that?

The whole future of art is to be found in the south of France ~ Vincent Van Gogh


Toni said...

It's Tuesday, late afternoon here and, as I was looking at your pictures of this scrumptious food, Tony came in the bedroom grumbling (but in a nice way) that he was going to miss meeting Chuck for dinner tonight!

Diane said...

I think I read in a book about Van Gogh that in places that are very windy, there is a higher incidence of insanity. It even speculated that the wind in the south of France contributed to Van Gogh's mental breakdown. I wonder if there is a higher incidence of insanity in Cordelia (near the 680/80 split) where the trees all grow horizontally. I'd definitely rather be in Avignon than Cordelia, that's for sure! I can practically taste the coffee ice cream with coffee sauce. Loved Chuck's bib :-)

Chuck and Claire said...

Yes, our rare times out to sample regional foods - or the occasional Mc Donald's and Wi-fi - are quite special to us.

And, I miss Tony and my monthly dinners, too!

Chuck and Claire said...

Yes, we've heard about and truly understand now that Le Mistral can lead to insanity. I'm almost there. But, it is nice to be cozy inside Homer listening to it roar. I'm less sure about driving in it. We are a huge wind sail. Driving over the bridge into Avignon was intense in the wind and I wondered if we would be hurled into the river.

Anonymous said...

Before reading the caption, I'd assumed Chuck had adopted a French fashion designer's signature line. Those little fish to me looked delectable. Did you eat them, Claire? Even the restaurant's interior carried the French flavors and aromas. I wanted to be there with you. Claire, looks like the wind is about to knock YOU over!

Chuck and Claire said...

Dear Anonymous???
Yes, I ate the fish, they tasted great and I just put it out of my mind that I was crunching through fish eyes. The wind almost did knock me over a few times. It was ferocious!

Pat in Santa Cruz said...

Ok, so I was imagining you cutting off those little tiny heads! Crunching eyeballs - oh my. I remember Le Mistral from A Year in Provance. We have tried to keep up with you with a HUGE California storm - I thought it was going to blow Santa Cruz right off the map! I've read your other post - sounds like you may be French film stars! That bridge is just spectacular. I am thoroughly enjoying my vacation with you. "My friends who are traveling in Europe for a year..." is a well-used phrase as I relate many of your adventures to friends and family. Take care.