Although we thoroughly enjoyed spending our days cruising along the picturesque Canal du Midi, past the colorful countryside of the Languedoc, bicycling, sightseeing, shopping, cooking, and relaxing, the idea of heading to a hotel and taking a REAL shower also appealed to us, so we were not too disappointed to be disembarking today and moving on to our next destination. After lunch in an unremarkable small town overlooking the Etang de Thau in the falling rain, we drove out of the rain and on to one of France’s top 5 tourist attractions, the Pont du Gard. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this bridge was part of a 50-kilometer Roman aqueduct which may have been constructed in the 1st century, A.D., in order to carry water from springs in the city of Uzès to the city of Nîmes. Built without the use of mortar, the stones of the bridge are held together with iron clamps, which makes it quite a remarkable feat of engineering, and a site to be studied by future French journeymen masons.
Terrace Café in Avignon
We made it to our hotel in Avignon in the late afternoon. Our first choice of hotels was Hôtel Cloître Saint Louis within the walls of the city, where we had stayed on our last visit to Avignon, but it had no available rooms for the night, and so, at their suggestion, we stayed at their sister hotel, the Avignon Grand Hôtel, which we were happy with, since it was basically just across the street from the walls of the city, and both rooms were almost as big as apartments, each with a large bedroom and a separate living room. With hot showers and kilos of barge grime behind us, we all felt re-born and ready to hit the town, starting with a leisurely walk around town, followed by an apéritif at one of the sidewalk cafés in the lively town center, and finishing with dinner at a lovely Belle Époque restaurant called Hiély-Lucullus (5, rue de la République - tél: 04.90.86.17.07).