Channel your inner Jud

Mirinda and Sharon decided to chat until 3am today. Fortunately they were a lot quieter than the arseholes in the flat across from us.

The Party Arses started off talking and laughing but when the singing and dancing started it became a bit much, particularly given they had their window wide open. Eventually I gave up trying to sleep at about 05:50 and quietly made a coffee. Why I bothered being quiet is a mystery I will never uncover.

Then the police turned up at 06:15 to tell them to shut up. A police officer tried to attract their attention with politeness then started blowing a loud shrill whistle. This worked. The police then told them to shut the fuck up, in French.

The apartment started slowly waking up (in inverse ratio to the people opposite) and the final croissants consumed. At one point Joel was volunteered to go down to the shop to buy some coffee. He took ages. Upon his return he told us all a very funny story.

The length of his foray was mostly made worse by old ladies with shopping trollies gumming up the queuing at Carrefour. At the end of Joel’s tale, as if he was declaring a moral to it, Jud declared the need for his eldest to channel his inner Jud. Apparently this entails waving a packet of coffee (not instant) above your head and declaring your greater need to leave the supermarket. I disagreed politely yet succinctly.

Having bid our sad adieus with hugs and kisses and reminders that we’d all be together again in about three weeks, we ventured out into the streets, where we soon discovered it was actually, Rude Men in Arles Day.

Unable to find a taxi, we took the free bus that’s not free to the station. Three men sat comfortably in the front seats completely ignoring the fact that, first Mirinda with suitcases, then another woman with a shopping trolley, struggled to remain upright on the wobbly bus…because the driver was rude as well.

Then, at the station, a young Japanese woman gave me her seat while a man sat and ignored me. I felt like telling him how truly pathetic he was but my French was sadly lacking. Not that they’d care.

The morning then started to improve as the train arrived nearly empty and we chuffed the short trip to Avignon.

Avignon, at the moment, is gripped by festival fever. Like Edinburgh, artists of various cloth and culture turn up and present their wares in many venues. Unlike Edinburgh, the Avignon festival takes about a month and has over 1,000 shows. The festival programme looks about the size of the old Yellow Pages.

The place was totally abuzz with street performers and festival fanciers. The atmosphere was very much full of cacaphonic joy.

We walked the length of the high street, ending up at the Place of the Clocks where our hotel room awaited. We dumped our bags, had a brief rest then headed out for lunch.

A Belgian restaurant attracted Mirinda’s attention, mostly because it boasted air conditioning and beer. Actually, the beer was more me.

I don’t remember the name but the beer and Italian salad were both excellent.

Suitably nourished, we headed for the Pope’s Palace.

In 1309 (or thereabouts) due to a lot of violence in Rome and, therefore, the Vatican, Pope Clement V decided he’d rather live in France and, in particular, Avignon. And who could blame him? He set up house with a bunch of subservient monks and enjoyed his time in Provence so much he never left. A few years later things calmed down in Rome sufficiently for the Papacy to return though, by this time, the monks shack had been replaced by a very big palace.

Not long after this return to Rome, there was a bit of a schism in the Catholic Church. In 1378 the papacy became two because God didn’t bother telling his followers to elect a Roman pope so the Catholics went a bit riot-y. The pope in Rome was Urban VI who turned out to be a bit unstable with violent turns of temper. The cardinals who had elected him met again and decided to elect a so-called antipope. This was Clement VII.

Now Urban wasn’t moving out of the Vatican so Clem naturally headed for the south of France, mostly because there was a big old palace there waiting for him, though it may have also been for the local wine which is pretty bloody good. (Eventually there were three popes but that’s another story of even greater stupidity.)

I’d wanted to see the antipope’s house since I’d heard about it. Mirinda went a few years ago with Bob and she just knew I’d love it. She was right. From the edifice to the million stairs, it’s amazing.

Front door complete with rocket launchers

Equipped with tablets and earphones we started our journey through this massive structure. The tablet enabled us to see the rooms as they would have been in the 14th century and the headphone gave us a commentary on various aspects of the papal world.

There were quite a few other tourists travelling the same path, getting in my way and generally being tourists but, all in all, it was amazing. And another World Heritage Site.

Completely knackered we left the Palace and found a place for ice cream and beer before returning to the hotel for an extended rest with added snooze. It was definitely needed by this time.

For dinner, I was treated to Mirinda’s favourite restaurant in Avignon, Le violette, a very cool establishment set up in the courtyard of a museum. And I can see why it’s Mirinda’s favourite. My meal was amazing. From the mysterious Duchess Shanghai to the coup colonel with added rose and lychee sorbet, it was all totally delicious. Now I just want to return to Avignon in order to once more dine at Le violette.

Finally, the eyes having decided it was closing time, we set off for our hotel, the streets absorbed with various groups of crazy party people out for a good arty time.

Rabble rousing

It would have been lovely to wander the late night craziness and absorb some culture but the Party Arses from early this morning had put paid to anything more than bed.

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