June 30, 2014

Quaffing in Provence

After an initial 7 hour train journey that turned into an 8 hour journey due to signal failure and multiple glasses of Rose.....by ten pm I had finally made it to Avignon to meet up with Mum and Sue to continue our travel hopping through France and Italy. I've decided to refrain from having a moan about the delay as I'm aware that I have mentioned in a previous post how much I enjoy train travel.....

The ladies had arrived in Avignon before me and checked into our accommodation, located about a five to ten minute stroll from the centre of town. I was really pleased that they were happy with the accommodation, which was charming and typically Provincial....blue shutters on the windows, antique furniture and a pretty little courtyard. After a few welcome glasses of champagne (as you do!), we hit the hay in preparation for our morning tour of Chateauneuf du Pape and Orange.

Unfortunately, our visit to the Provence region was a little too early in the year for us to appreciate Lavender season, so I had chosen the next best thing....visiting Chateauneuf du Pape to learn a bit more about the region and (ahem!) drink wine. We were collected bright and early at 9am in a small mini van with only 5 other people which was great, as we had all agreed that we weren't fans of the whole "large tour bus descending on a town" experience.

It was interesting to learn as we drove out of Avignon and across Pont Edouard Daladier towards Villeneuve-les-Avignon, until we crossed the Rhone River again just near Chateauneuf du Pape, we were no longer in Provence.

Our first stop on the tour was the ruins of the new Castle of the Popes which centuries ago, was visited in Summer. Even though sadly, there is not a lot of the residence remaining, you can still get an appreciation for how grand it would have been in its time.

From there we moved on to Ogier, one of the wineries in the town itself. Our guide was very informative and explained the history of wine making in the region. It was surprising to learn that there is four different types of soil in the area; sand, pebble, clay and stone and that the vines growing in each of these soils produce different varieties of wine.

We then had an opportunity to look through the barrel rooms, which was very impressive, and concluded the tour back in the tasting room. 

After Chateauneuf du Pape, we headed to the town of Orange, which is renowned for its Roman architecture. We began this part of the tour at the ancient Arch of Orange. Standing tall near the edge of town, this structure truly is a work of art. The amount of work and detailing that has been carved out of the stone and arches is incredible.

Once more, we were back in the mini van and dropped off in town, where we stopped for a bite of lunch and a wander through the markets and Theatre before the journey back to Avignon.
 Theatre antique d'Orange
Walking around, it's quite clear that the architecture is Roman, with some similarities to the Colesseum
The Theatre is still used today for the opera & music festivals

Upon arrival back in Avignon we were on a bit of a "tour" roll, so decided to take a wander around the Papal Palace and town. 

The history & architecture in towns like this all over Europe is really mind blowing and you realise coming from such a young country, it's a shame we don't have anything quite like this in Australia. To have visited 3 UNESCO sites, all in the same region and within one day gives you a true appreciation for how many centuries places like Avignon and Orange have been in existence.
Pont St Benezet, which sustained so much damage from currents, that in the 16th century the townspeople abandoned it (due to the amount of repairs required)

For anyone visiting the Provence region, Avignon should definitely be on your list of towns to visit. Whilst Mum and Sue were there for two nights, I felt one was enough for me quite personally.  Being a major stop on the TGV line, it's a great place to stop and soak up some history on the way to visiting many other gorgeous towns in the area, such as Nimes, St Remy and Aix-en-Provence, which would all be worth spending time in as well.

And as a final note.......no trip anywhere in France is complete without indulging in a Nutella Crepe! 


  1. So beautiful! I can only imagine how stunning it must be during Lavender season!

  2. Hi Van, thanks for your comment! Yes, hues and abundance of lavender in Provence during this time of year is supposed to be beautiful....Maybe next year!

  3. Hi Camila, thanks for your comment. I know exactly what you mean! France is one of my favourite countries in the world and I just feel it ticks every box! Depending on what your taste is, you can visit for culture and history, to experience Parisian city life, to take in the countryside, relax by the sea, enjoy the snow.....and drink lots of wine in quite a few amazing regions too! ;)

  4. oh how dreamy, i can almost feel the sun.



    p.s. that yellow vespa! <3

  5. Hi Becky, I know what you mean! I wish I had a yellow vespa!


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