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The Rhone through Provence

Avignon

sunny 75 °F

After a short cruise after dinner, we arrived at Avignon, the home of the French Popes and their spectacular palace.

Between 1309 and 1377, during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when during the French Revolution it became part of France. The city is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its city walls. The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papes, the cathedral and the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its architecture and importance during the 14th and 15th centuries. The medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon (commonly called: "Festival In d'Avignon") and its accompanying Festival Off d'Avignon - one of the world's largest festivals for performing arts, have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism.

The Palais des Papes was once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was a seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six papal conclaves were held in the Palais, leading to the elections of Benedict XII in 1334, Clement VI in 1342, Innocent VI in 1352, Urban V in 1362, Gregory XI in 1370 and Benedict XIII in 1394. The Palais is actually two joined buildings: the old palais of Benedict XII, which sits on the impregnable rock of Doms, and the new palais of Clement VI, the most extravagant of the Avignon popes. Together they form the largest Gothic building of the Middle Ages. It is also one of the best examples of the International Gothic architectural style.

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After lunch we traveled about 30 minutes to the Pont du Gard - a spectacular Roman Aqueduct. The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge built in the first century AD to carry water over 50 km (31 mi) to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). It crosses the river Gardon near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France. The Pont du Gard is the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges, as well as one of the best preserved. The bridge has three tiers of arches made from Shelly limestone and stands 48.8 m (160 ft) high. The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 40,000 m3 (8,800,000 imp gal) of water a day over 50 km (31 mi) to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. The structure's precise construction allowed an average gradient of 1 cm (0.39 in) in 182.4 m (598 ft). It may have been in use as late as the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but lack of maintenance after the 4th century led to clogging by mineral deposits and debris that eventually stopped the flow of water.

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Posted by rpickett 16:04 Archived in France Tagged avignon

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Comments

Rusty, great pictures and memories brought back. Thank you for sharing.

by Bruce Sandelin

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