MONDAY (Lundi)

        Avignon: The Palace of the Popes & Wine Tasting at the                                              Chartreuse de Bonpas

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En route to Avignon for a visit of the Palais des Papes where the popes led a sumptuous life! We'll enter the city through one of the fortified gates built along the ramparts that encircle the town. One of the largest buildings of its time (2.6 acres), the palace is a veritable fortress where nine popes ruled the Roman Catholic World from 1309 to 1403. The princely residence is a maze of corridors, chambers and chapels richly decorated with frescoes and tapestries.

Afterward you might like to visit the Petit Palais, now a museum with exceptional Medieval and Renaissance sculptures and paintings. A few steps from the museum stand the 12th century Notre-Dame-des-Doms and the famous St.
Bénézet bridge that crosses halfway above the Rhône river.

LUNCH:  Stroll through the nearby Place de l'Horloge where you'll find several fine small restaurants. Or, stop at one the very tempting baker-shops and delicatessen and enjoy lunch in a park.

After lunch, we'll head on to the Chartreuse de Bonpas, which ramparts have been overlooking the winding Durance river for over 700 years.  Originally a Chapel built between 730 and 805, the first stones of the Bonpas Charterhouse were laid in 1166 and the fortified monastery was built by the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 12th century.  In the 14th century the Pope John XXII, based in Avignon, gave Notre Dame de Bonpas to the Chartreux, the Carthusian monks.  Their motto was "Stat crux dum volvitur orbis" (the cross is steady while the world is turning).

The name, Bonpas, "bonus passus" or good, safe path, was given for the stone bridge built by the monks over the river which offered a safe crossing point.  In that time, the Durance was a tumultuous and dangerous river, diffficult to cross by raft, and this crossing was called "malus passus," the bad path.  The Chartreuse had many famous visitors, including Charlemagne, the Comtesse de Segur and Napoleon.

After our visit of the Chartreuse we'll have a tasting of lines                     produced by the actual owners from vines first planted by the Carthusian monks.

Delight in prestigious vintages of Provence such as Gigondas, Beaumes-de- Venise, Hermitage, Vacqueyras,Tavel. at our special Wine Tasting and dinner party with regional specialties cooked by Anne-Marie in our house.

Follow these links to learn more about each day of the "Cultural & Gourmet Delights in Provence" tour

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