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Popes and Wine in Provence

The Papal Palace in Avignon. Photograph by Daphne Birdsey

We're in the sunny region of Provence (not considered part of France until the fifteenth century), and we recently visited the former papal palace in Avignon, which housed seven successive popes during the fourteenth century (for various reasons). Much of the palace was ruined during the French Revolution, but you can still get a sense of the scale of the rooms and the richness of the decor. One original painted ceiling has managed to survive for seven hundred years!

Private garden in Provence. Photograph by Daphne Birdsey

We also toured around the home of a former curator of drawings and prints from the Louvre, who inherited this medieval structure from her grandfather. The original building was also destroyed during the French Revolution, but it has been lovingly restored over the past forty years and includes a beautiful garden overlooking the city of Avignon.

Wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photograph by Daphne Birdsey

We ended our day with a wine tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where we learned three rules of the region: winemakers cannot make rosé, cannot irrigate the soil, and cannot use machinery to pick the grapes. There are a number of grape varieties used—there is not one Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine—and all the wines we tasted were delicious!

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