What a difference 44 years make. In 1971, when I was last in Avignon, my sister and I were doing the youth hostel, eurail, backpack thing. We were 20 and 22 years old, respectively, and our finances were limited.
This time around, youth hostels, trains and backpacks have been replaced by lovely apartments, rented cars and suitcases (yes, that is plural) with wheels; and, although, it would be untrue to say that finances are of no concern, I can safely say that what Michael and I spent on parking and admissions on our day trip to Avignon was probably more than Cathy and I spent in three days for lodging, food, and entertainment combined. There are some things about getting older that are definitely better.
As the photos illustrate, 2015 weather was much nicer than that I encountered in 1971. We have had a string of spectacular fall days: Bright sunshine with just a touch of fall crispness in the air. It was perfect for strolling around the grounds of the Palais des Papes and out onto the Pont d’Avignon.
We spent almost two hours inside of the pope’s palace with our audioguides pressed to our ears. I learned a lot. For some reason, I had always associated the popes in Avignon with the big schism in the Catholic church. What I didn’t know was that for most of the time the popes were in Avignon, they were the only popes. Just like the original justices on the US Supreme Court, the first popes were itinerant. There wasn’t a fixed pope’s place when the palais des papes was built in Avignon. It wasn’t until toward the end of the 14th century that the church ended up with multiple popes, one of whom was domiciled in Avignon. It’s a good thing I’m not Catholic; my ignorance would probably condemn me to say nothing of all of my other shortcomings.