Monday 21st September – I am now convinced Charles is aiming to get into the Guinness Book of Records for travelling by barge from Lyon to the South of France in the quickest possible time. We fly by beautiful towns and more importantly fail to stop by the many vineyards to sample their wines – he keeps telling me we can take as long as we like when we make the return journey in a couple of years – we even eat our lunch on the hoof!!!
So we leave L’Ardoise and travel to Aramon where we have booked a mooring and meet the Capitaine Olivier Pallier who may be one of the best Capitaines in France. He is the epitome of an entrepreneur (although according to George Bush the French don’t have a name for it) providing visits to his home; a luxemotor which is (allegedly) the oldest boat in France. It had sunk three times, once to prevent the Germans from using it and is now also a hotel boat (www.vixit1862.com) Olivier was also a French fighter pilot and is now a flying instructor, he can organise helicopter rides, sells wines, delivers bread, organises fuel deliveries (if your boat has a big enough diesel hole thingy) and is happy to bob to the supermarket to collect heavy items of heavy items i.e. water or perhaps wine…….The only downside of this mooring is the wash from passing boats which can be quite ferocious forcing Charles and I to become contortionists to stop moveable objects from going flying across the boat.
We decide to stay here to wait for Ann and Peter to arrive so enjoy a couple of trips by bus into Avignon where we of course dance ‘sur le pont du Avignon’ much to the delight of some Japanese tourists.
Apparently dances actually took place under the bridge but the famous little song says on the bridge – and who cares anyway. The famous bridge was built in the 12th century, destroyed by floods and made unusable in 1668 – the force of the Rhone and the wind is relentless and unforgiving; no wonder we travel on it with trepidation and respect.
We also enjoy a few hours wandering around The Palais des Papes a feudal castle and fortress made of two edifices placed side by side – it is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe housing six popes in its time. However by 1370 the papal seat returned to Rome permanently and the Palace lost all of its former glory and from 1995 has been classified as a World Heritage Site.
On Wednesday we go for an early morning run/cycle and are joined by a small dog who runs along side me. Unfortunately she doesn’t have much road sense and we need to keep stopping when a vehicle approaches – plays havoc with my timings. On our return we try to find out where this pooch lives but she has become attached to us and it takes a local to hold on to her to stop her following us.