Away by 8:00am, arrived at Pont du Gard before 10 to an almost empty parking lot. We had a very good time climbing to the top level of the Roman aqueduct, even though the channel was blocked by by a gate, an added feature in the past 30 years according to a British gentleman whom I met beside the gate. "There were no steps, just scrub land all along the hillside and the channel was caked with lime. Footing was a bit tricky, but the experience was well worth it. None of these barriers to protect us from ourselves."
There was a large group of schoolchildren canoeing down the Gardon River - having a great time. Every day we meet groups of schoolchildren out on excursions. The more physical and demanding the activity, the better they like it.
Over to Avignon by shortly after noon. Easy parking outside the walls and a short walk into the centre ville, La Place de l'Horloge. Most of the group opted for a walk "sur le pont", while a couple of returning visitors were content with a more sedate activity. The Palais des Papes beckoned but the empty structure did not tempt any of the group, attracted by the more lively activites on the streets of the city, teeming with young people.
Off to the Chateauneuf du Pape wine region to the north of the city. We stopped, sampled and made purchases at two - Domaine Saint Siffrein and Mas de Boislauzon - of the many wineries that extend along both D68 and D72. We notice that our reception and interaction is not nearly as personable as in other areas. Perhaps the slightly elevated reputation of the wine is reflected of the demeanor of the owners, both of whom greeted us. Still, an enjoyable experience - and very good, if likely a bit overpriced, wine.
Home via the A7, avoiding Carpentras (WHEW!), gas fill-up at HyperU in Pertuis (the longer I am here the more "HyperTensionU" makes sense), a pause for "amuse bouches" and some wine from Chateau Val Joanis and Chateau La Canorgue, before an excellent dinner of cabillaud (cod) from the market in La Tour d'Aigues, haricots verts, patates, salade and a dessert from Le Fournil in Apt. All excellent.
Mont Ventoux is on tap for tomorrow.