Sunday, 1 January 2017
AMA Cruise and Land Tour in Provence - December 1st/15....
After my big breakfast, we had a choice between taking a tour of the city of Avignon and the papal palace or the Roman aqueduct called Pont du Gard. On a prior visit, I had a very good guided tour of Avignon and the papal palace; so I decided to go to Pont du Gard.
Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in the south of France - it is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts and one of the best preserved. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. It continued to be used until the 6th century. After the collapse of the Roman Empire and the aqueduct’s fall into disuse, the Pont du Gard remained largely intact due to the importance as a toll bridge.
The visitor center had two rows of stores, a restaurant and a museum on both sides of a wide walkway. One other noteworthy thing along this walkway are interesting photos of famous sites both in France and throughout the world. We had a guided tour of the museum - there is no doubt that the Romans were the first to use the bikini.
We then drove back to the ship for lunch - they had a special counter set up for Vietnamese Pho soup which is a hot broth into which is put noodles and selected Oriental vegetables and meats and/or fish. They also offered an authentic Spanish paella with rice, vegetables and meats and fish; it was flavored with saffron. It was very good. They offered one of my favorite pastries: chocolate, custard-stuffed éclairs. I also had white wine.
In the afternoon, we drove through the unending vineyards to the village of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We went to the ruined medieval castle at the top of the village - it was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes who resided in Avignon.
Next, we drove to the Domaine Le Pointu Winery for a wine tasting. I thought that the best quality wines in all the wine tastings during this trip was at this winery. There were three wines served in the tasting and a special bonus tasting of a limited bottling. All the wines were excellent. The tasting included pizza slices of anchovies and of cheese and tomatoes.
For dinner, I had a Caesar salad and the soup was mushroom cappuccino. I had a tender braised duck leg with an orange sauce and red cabbage, cauliflower, and dauphine potatoes - this main course was excellent. For dessert, I selected the Grand Marnier soufflé, which was also excellent. I passed on the wine and had a coke instead.
At about 9:00 pm, the AMADAGIO cruised for some night views of Avignon’s St. Benezet Bridge. The bridge was built between 1171 and 1185, and originally had 22 arches, until most were destroyed in floods in 1668.
Photos belong to Phil Bianco