National Geographic : 1955 Jul
151 llowell walker, National geographicc Staff St. Nicholas Chapel Juts from a Pier of the Pont d'Avignon, a Bridge to Nowhere Immortalized by the children's rhyme, "Sur le pont d'Avignon, tout le monde y danse en rond" (On the bridge of Avignon, everybody dances in a ring), the bridge once spanned the Rhone. En route to Paris, the author spent a quiet Sunday in the walled city of Avignon, famed in medieval times as the papal capital. I never ceased to marvel at the girls who went hosteling. Many of them would enter the baggage room dressed in mannish-looking slacks and jackets, but after 10 minutes of primping and changing to skirts they would emerge as sparkling examples of femininity and charm. It was a biting cold morning when I cycled southwest along the Riviera to St. Raphael. The leaden sky opened up and a steady rain lasted the entire day. I sloshed over the mountain roads with water trickling over my face and into my shoes. When I reached Frejus I was thoroughly soaked. Next day the sun was shining brightly as I headed out on the flat road to Avignon. But the wind was blowing so strongly that I was stopped dead in my tracks. I might just as well have been on a bicycle exercising ma chine. I flagged down an Avignon bus and with my bicycle on the roof rack I settled back for the three-hour ride. Avignon, like many medieval communities in France, was a walled city; and here the wall is largely intact. It was the papal capital during most of the 14th century; the great Palace of the Popes is still one of the town's main attractions.