Wanderlust left Aramon heading upstream towards Avignon. For now her journey to the Med would be suspended. Instead we would backtrack up the Rhône to Avignon, with the hope that we’d find a mooring spot at the town’s quay this time. If there was no space available to moor our plan was to turn around and head back to Aramon. The next comfortable mooring option was too far downstream to comfortably reach.
Pushing Wanderlust’s throttle forward we moved against the Rhône’s flow. At the confluence of the lock and hydroelectric dam branches of the Rhône near Avignon we stayed right and moved against the stronger current on the old town/hydroelectric arm of the river. We once again we passed the famous half-collapsed Pont d’Avignon as the tourists standing on the bridge snapped more pictures of Wanderlust.
Beyond the bridge the quay for the port de plaisance came into view. This time we were in luck; there was a mooring place large enough for Wanderlust. After the mooring lines were set Becky walked over to the capitaine and arranged to stay for a week. No sense squandering our good mooring fortune with a short stay.
Avignon ranks as one of the top tourist destinations in this area of France and August is the peak vacation of vacation season. Tourism is alive in France and Avignon was packed. Realistically August isn’t the best time to be in Avignon, or any other French tourist destination. But at least our prior visit took the sightseeing pressure off and the port is away from the densest throngs of visitors.
History has left Avignon a robust historical legacy. From 1309 to 1376 the Catholic Church was ruled from Avignon France and not Rome Italy. Political tensions of the time and French Pope Clement V’s refusal to relocate to Rome resulted in the Avignon Papacy where seven successive popes resided in Avignon. With the arrival of the papacy came a building boom. Today Avignon’s prime tourist attraction, the austere but grand Palais des Papes, stands as a reminder of the time when the Catholic Church was based in France and not in Rome.
Past the Palais des Papes Avignon and its bridge, Avignon is a generally attractive commune with plenty to see. The history and the architecture are compelling. No doubt the tourist throngs agree.
At least by staying on Wanderlust we were able to pick and choose how we visited. We could take advantage of the town’s excellent covered market, forgotten by many but not all tourists, and eat in the crowded restaurants only when we wanted to. The sights we could visit at off peak times. If it was a hot day we could avoid the midday heat and explore the town at night. In the height of tourist season it is a better way to see Avignon.
Aside from Avignon’s attractions there was another unplanned reason to linger in Aramon. The builder now had two reports from Safinah, our paint surveyor. The ball was in their court and they were now making noises about mediation in an attempt to end to the nearly two-year old legal dispute. Though this was good news, it meant that our lives would once again be consumed by dealing with lawyers and surveyors. We were in Avignon but our reality was the legal maneuverings going on back in the UK.
For the French, August is a month for vacation, a time when many are “en vacances”. We too had a few weeks of vacation from the endless hours of legal planning and surveyor report reading that occupied our hours after the builder’s lawyer sent us a letter early in 2016. But now summer vacation would be over soon, for both the French and us.
Wanderlust arrived in Avignon on the 22nd of August 2017.
It is 14 kilometers with no locks by river from Aramon to Avignon. Wanderlust engine ran for 1.7 hours on this leg.