Monday, January 2, 2012

Color Me Provence -- La Mirande in Avignon

À votre santé
Time to relive some moments in the south of France.

The mis en scène: September 2011, the south of France, 90 degrees and sunny. After a week in Paris, we took the TGV to Avignon, which would be our home base for a week in Provence.  In a rented Renault, we drove to Avignon proper, a medieval maze of tiny streets. We promptly got lost trying to find our hotel, the magnificent La Mirande. After some consternation, (but not much, because how dare we be consternated in Provence) we entered a little cobblestoned square opposite the Palais des Papes, and voilà -- La Mirande.

The Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) opposite La Mirande.

From 1305 to 1378, Avignon, rather than Rome, was home to the Popes. There were 7 French Popes. In 1348, one astute Pope, Clement VI, actually purchased the town of Avignon for 80,000 florins. I wonder what that would be in Euros today? 

Clement VI, the real estate mogul who purchased Avignon.

In 1378, Pope Gregory moved the Holy See back to Rome in order to handle some issues in Italy. And this was before Berlusconi! When he got there, he was disgusted with what he found and wanted to return to Avignon. Alas, it was too late for him because he died.

Meanwhile, back in France, a group of disgruntled French cardinals elected two more popes of their own.  These two popes were called anti-popes by the Catholic Church. Now we had dueling popes in Italy and France. During this confusing time, called the Western Schism, the popular pastime of "Find the Pope in the Pizza" was introduced.

If you know that any of this history is incorrect, please write to me in the comment section below.

But I digress. After a most warm bienvenue at La Mirande's reception, in which I was offered a cane to borrow for my sprained ankle (and much appreciated for the cobblestone streets) we explored our rooms. Squeals of delight emanated from each of the three chambres as we discovered their charms.

Our chambre and bath. We overlooked the garden and the rooftops of Avignon. All the bedding was soft linen and the walls were covered in Provençal fabric.

Richard Conrad's bedroom had quite a flair with red ribbons and blue flourishes.

Dianna's and Michael's chambre and terrace were warm and inviting.
 Banish ye all thoughts of Chicago in January!

A television in a mirror! How clever these français n'est pas?

A Cezanne landscape with two figures.

This is how La Mirande returns your laundry. In a basket lined with tissue. 
All the unmentionables are folded properly. Pretty high-class for Jockey.

This is how you get your International Herald Tribune delivered each morning. It's in a muslin bag with your chambre number embroidered, no doubt by cloistered nuns in a nearby abbey, in gold thread.

The staircase on the hotel's main floor.

A bird's-eye-view of the interior courtyard. La Mirande was once the home of a cardinal. Presumably there were other cardinals in Rome fuming over the Avignon Pope and cardinals. The building dates from the 14th century.

Two public rooms used for tea or lounging with a glass of wine.

 Breakfast in the dining room. We did not eschew our cereal for croissants. How virtuous. Just kidding, croissants came later.

We reserved for a special dinner prepared by the chef in la ancienne cuisine. We were 14 guests: a couple from Brazil and the rest from the U.S.

Three wild and crazy guys from Milwaukee.

La famille.

Most of the better-quality photos in this post were taken by Dianna Cramer, some by Michael Miller, and "La famille" by a complete stranger. I also took a few.

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À bientôt!

1 comment:

  1. Another wonderful walk through of lovely colors, patterns, and sensations!
    I can still smell the fragrant garden and the mouthwatering dinner we had in the kitchen.