About 20km south of Avignon we found Tarascon and this fascinating Chateau. Ignore this post if you're not really into castles. I am one of those odd people who loves wandering around on my own in these ancient places.
The story of Roi Rene's Castle is told in this first photo - click on it for a bigger more readable version.
It was one of those places which looked fairly ordinary from the outside - and seemed to get bigger when you went inside. Sort of a Tardis version of a castle.
It is incredibly well-preserved. How much is actually ancient, and how much is recent renovation is hard to say - but they've done a great job and it's difficult to pick. You really get a feel for the way life may have been (well, for the rulers at least) almost 600 years ago. The first photo is detail of the ceiling/floor above construction.
A modern "sculpture" display or promotion was happening when I was there. Many of the rooms had weird light shows or similar "happenings" going on - which I found detracted from the experience. But then, I'm obviously a philistine in these things. For example, in one room was what appeared to be a discarded blue bed-sheet on the floor - with some sort of battery-operated motor under the covers moving it occasionally. There was a long-winded explanation on the wall concerning the cultural and artistic significance of the moving sheet. Yeah, right. As I said, I'm obviously a Philistine.
One of the things I found fascinating was the ancient graffiti of ships carved on some of the walls. Being on the banks of the Rhone, not too distant from the Mediterranean, apparently the castle was a form of port. It's not clear whether the graffiti was done by mariners who were voluntary guests or detained in the castle as prisoners.
The roof is effectively about six floors above the surrounding countryside and the castle is on the banks of the the Rhone. Those standing here were literally lords of all they surveyed.
Unfortunately, just towards the end of my visit I was moving sideways for a better shot of this room when I stepped into a slight hole in the floor; I discovered later that one of the floor tiles was missing. I have a long history of spraining ankles so as soon as my brain realises it's about to happen my body goes into an involuntary fall.
It was like one of those slow-motion things in movies - I knew it was happening but was powerless to stop it. I ended up flat on my back but the momentum then slammed my head back into the tiles and I went out like a light. The place was deserted and I have no idea how long I lay there but when I came 'round I had a lump on the back of my head like an egg. It was tender - but I didn't even have a headache, although that came later. So I took another pic, of the chapel, and then decided to call it a day.
Lorraine (who is not a castle-phile) was waiting in the car. I told her we were now quits after her fall at Pont du Gard. Anything she can do, I can do better:-)