Despite expectations to the contrary, I enjoyed the light show last night, displayed on the walls of the inner keep of the Palais de Papas (Palace of the Popes). What I mistakenly referred to as the castle yesterday served as both a medieval fortress and the seat of the Christian world in the 14th century. The first fixed papal seat began in Avignon, leading to eventual schism (up to three popes) before things settled back in Rome in the 15th century.
The Palais de Papas, which I will refer to as “lightly touristy”, did a good job of presenting information. Restoration work underway for many years attempts to return the palace to the original condition in the 14th (and in the case of the new palace, the 15th) century, despite later use of a barracks and prison.
Entering the square today, an array of American military equipment and French dressed up as American soldiers confused me. The French reenactors pretend to be Americans? Instead, today Avignon celebrated its liberation on August 25, 1944.
Not wanting to feel rushed through the day, before I left the campground this morning I extended my stay another night. If I finished early, I could still head out to Nimes. As I expected, I finished visiting everything I wanted to see before the end of the day, but later than expected – 3 pm. I considered packing up and heading out to Nimes, but decided to spend another night in Avignon, using the extra time for general life maintenance (laundry, sewing, repacking, route planning, etc.). I hadn’t done dishes this morning, and spent a while watching the epic struggle of removing a banana flake from my bowl.
Avignon will also have fireworks tonight, and the campground sits across the river. Tomorrow I leave Avignon, the easy life of cycle paths, and the (relatively) flat roads that come with following the Rhone.