Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 6: Walking in Avignon

The weather in Avignon was just cool enough for comfortable walking. I wore jeans, boots, and a little black knit coat, blending in with everyone else. (These days, French women wear skinny jeans or leggings tucked into chunky-heeled or flat boots, as we do here. They also wear complicated sweaters, chic short coats, and messy updos.)

After another sumptuous breakfast — there were witnesses this time, but no one raised their eyebrows at my butter consumption — I went out to take a self-guided walk, following a tourist map I'd been given at the Pont d'Avignon. There were four walks to choose from, but I'd pretty much covered two of them the day before.

My walk took me along winding streets lined with gothic, baroque, and neoclassical architecture. My destination was the rue de Teinturiers, where Proven├žal cottons were once woven and dyed, and where there is still a canal with a few working water wheels. Here's what I saw along the way:

 A little baroque splendor.

A gothic restoration. The sky, stones, sidewalk, and even the tree trunks 
were a very pale golden-gray that morning. Strange and beautiful!

There is graffiti everywhere in Avignon, marring its historic areas.

 The rue des Teinturiers turned out to be a tranquil place, centuries-old, shabby, and authentic. Elegant but also very working-class, depending on where you looked. I fell in love with it. Someone was playing the piano in an upstairs apartment, and that helped, of course!

The rue des Tinturiers has little homes and shops on the left, the
canal on the right, and more elegant buildings alongside it. The
cobblestone street is lined with wonderfully carved, ancient-looking 
stone benches that appear to have been made in the past decade.

There are many bridges over the canal, either stone or metal.

Here's another. My photos avoid showing grafitti.

One of the carved benches.

An elegant residence beside the canal.

A row of carved benches, each clever and unique.

A few of the water wheels were churning away.

I think I need to go back here....

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