Day 8 — Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Avignon, Pont du Gard

The Plan (the whole Plan)
Day 8 : Tue 29 May : Wine country, and an elderly bridge

At last, a day containing all the best traditions of the SATWOTH tour (and one that actually resembles the plan). In particular we got a sunny, but not baking hot, day. So we were in the mood to do some exploring.

The teeming millions of our regular readers will have noticed a startling omission from the tour so far - no vineyard visits and wine tastings. (Okay, the more attentive of you will have noticed we tried to sort something out along these lines last Saturday, but we rather cocked it up.) And the really attentive among you will have noticed the first location in the title of this page and worked the rest out for yourselves.

In the traditional manner, we picked it because it didn't look shiny or corporate

Yes, we found proof that God may not be a Frenchman, but he's certainly a winemaker. The specific celestrial sphere we found this time was called Tour St Michel, run by Henri Fabre, a friendly, grizzled and splendidly mustachioed fellow who sang the praises of the terroir, talked us through the particular advantages of Châteauneuf (lots of sun, high water table etc.) and so on.

And the result was predictable...

Speaks for itself, really...

Yes, well, it's turning out to be quite an expensive trip anyway so you might as well go for broke when you're presented with stuff as good as this. Our purchase pleased M. Fabre so much that he rounded the visit off by digging out an ox-fellingly powerful rosé that wasn't actually on sale (shame - we would have bought a load of that as well) but which he thought we should have a go at.

So all we needed now was somewhere to drink it. Which brings us to the next stop on the tour.

A general pic of Avignon. We can't think of anything to say about it...

There is a bit of a theme of walled towns with very narrow streets in this region, and Avignon takes the theme and runs with it. While we were actually aiming for the famous eponymous bridge (okay, in fact it's named for St Bénézet, but anyway...) which is outside the walls, a too-literal interpretation of TomTom's instructions sent us scuttling through the centre. In as much as you can scuttle in a tank with a turning circle of several furlongs, anyway.

But we found the bridge. And so we had the traditional picnic.

Sous le pont d'Avignon / on y mange, on y mange

And we bought our tickets to wander across as much of the bridge as remains, and whistle a certain song about it.

Sur le pont d'Avignon, vraiment, on y danse

And finally, to another bridge, a litle older, and which has survived the centuries rather better. Oh hell, I can't be bothered to write about it any more. Here are some pix.

You should have worked out where we are by now You should have worked out where we are by now
We weren't the only people there... We weren't the only people there...
...but unlike certain other monuments, you can get close to it. ...but unlike certain other monuments, you can get close to it.
In fact, you can get really close to it. In fact, you can get really close to it.
You can try to play some clever tricks with the light... You can try to play some clever tricks with the light...
...and shadow ...and shadow

And finally finally, we had some G&T (we were in Orange so of course we'd bought a lemon) to prepare for the rest of the day. We wandered around Orange and had a look at its famous Théatre Antique. We took some pictures of it, but they're stuck in the internal memory of Patrick's camera and nobody has the right cable to download them onto the computer, so you'll just have to imagine them. Oh, and we had a stonking meal in a restaurant called La Sangria in Orange, returned to the hotel, drank some more wine (the rough-as-fuck stuff, not the Châteauneuf-du-P) and sank into somnolence.

As I said, all in the best traditions.