I was fortunate enough that during my senior year of high school, I got to take a 10 day trip to France with some f my classmates. It was one of the most memorable trips in my life. One of the places I visited while on that trip was Avignon, which is in the south of France. I’m sure that I learned about the history of Avignon while there. But being a high school kid, I paid only a little attention to what the tour guide told us so I don’t remember much. But I do remember a couple of things, like I really liked the south of France and the small towns there much, much more than I liked Paris. I remember touring a church in Avignon that had a leaning bell tower and a fireplace so huge I could stand in it. I remember the cobblestone streets and drinking coffee at a sidewalk cafe with my teacher and her husband and daughter who were our chaperones. I didn’t like coffee back then, but I drank it anyway because that was what i was supposed to do while sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the south of France on a chilly spring afternoon, right? Not far from Avignon is Nimes, another small town I adored. I visited the Pont du Gard there — even walked across the top of it despite being terrified of heights. I loved the Pont du Gard so much that I bought a sketch of it from a sidewalk sketch artist. My friends and I ate pizza there after crossing the Pont du Gard — I remember it wasn’t like pizza at home (go figure). I ordered mine with jambon on it — which is ham. I recall thinking that was so weird — after all, I was an 18 year old kid who had been brought up thinking Pizza Hut pizza ruled the world. What I loved about Avignon was feeling the history all around me. I loved the look and feel of the old buildings surrounding me — something I simply didn’t experience at home in the far southern suburbs of Chicago. Avignon reminded me of what I imagined France, especially Paris, would be like. It was funny to discover that Paris was nothing like what I imagined but Avignon was everything I imagined! I have pictures from this trip, but way back in 1985, I was using a camera that required a flip flash, so all the pictures are in a photo album and I’m afraid that if I try to take them out they will be ruined, so you’ll just have to accept the links I offered above! If you are considering a trip to France, I highly recommend finding the time to visit the south of France and spending some time in Avignon and Nimes.
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