Avignon, Chapeau

In French, when you want to say congratulations to someone, you often say chapeau, which is literally the word for hat.  As if tipping your hat to the honoree, all the while bare-headed and economizing on words. Chapeau.

Katherine and I were wandering the streets of Avignon in search of lunch, something surprisingly hard to find in Avignon, when we happened on the most fabulous hat store, stuffed to the brim with the sort of hats I’d love to wear, but which would necessitate a whole new wardrobe and an entirely different lifestyle.

Katherine though, being Dutch, has an occasion that demands a new hat every year: the celebration of the Queen’s birthday.  She happens to look gorgeous in hats, and I had a blast watching her try them on until she found just the right one.  I tried a few myself, furtively, concluding each time that I’d need a hair cut for this one, a slinky sheath for that one, perhaps a whole new face for some of them.

It’s actually easier to find a great hat than a decent lunch in Avignon. For some reason that I have never understood, we always have a hard time eating there, with the notable exceptions of the times we’ve eaten in super high style at A Deux Pas, or had a flamenco meal at the Opéra Café. And no, we didn’t resort to eating at the Rapido Resto, but I don’t even want to mention where we did eat, lest someone take it as a recommendation.  If I ever find a good lunch spot right in central Avignon, I’ll be sure to let you know.

What Avignon is great for is architecture. Here’s the Opera House itself,

and here’s the City Hall, with a banner advocating the liberation of two French journalists, held in Afghanistan now for almost two years.

There’s the starkly forbidding Palais des Papes, which has brooded over French religious life since the 14th century,

the more inviting archaeology museum,

and the building that houses the office de tourisme.

Even an average shopping street in Avignon is good to look at,

as are its denizens.

It’s a lovely town as long as you’re not in need of a good lunch.  Avignon, chapeau for those in search of beauty, pas de chapeau for the hungry.

And now, we’re off for a few days in the Haute Savoie, in Annecy.  I’m excited about the prospect of all the cheese and some special mountain wines that you can’t find down here in the south, and about driving through a part of France that we barely know.  It may still be cool up there, so get out your mittens and come along.

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8 Comments on “Avignon, Chapeau”

  1. Lucy Says:

    What lovely hats! Thank you, Abra.

  2. Heidi Husnak Says:

    I had a friend who was a hat fiend. She would have been drooling. Thank you for the architecture shots. They give me incentive to get over there! Looking forward to Haute Savoie – esp the cheese.

  3. Zuleme Says:

    I’m sure Madeleine knows where to eat in Avignon
    http://american-in-avignon.blogspot.com/

  4. agnes cottave Says:

    Have you tried “l’Essentiel” ? it’s a “Bib gourmand” restau (Michelin 2010).
    2 rue Petite Fusterie, close to the Place de l’Horloge.
    http://www.restaurantlessentiel.com
    It’s closed on Sundays though……

  5. Abra Bennett Says:

    Zuleme – thanks for the link, I hadn’t yet discovered that blog, and it’s quite interesting.

    Agnes – merci, je n’ai pas encore découvert l’Essentiel, mais c’est certain que la prochaine fois que je me trouve à Avignon je le chercherai.

  6. Wendy Says:

    Abra Dayne and I had a wonderful lunch at La Cour d’Honneur last year. http://www.cour-honneur.com
    prix fixe menus & the most beautiful outside terrace under huge trees!

  7. Abra Bennett Says:

    Thanks, Wendy. Between that, and Madeleine’s suggestion of La Brocantine, we should do a lot better next time!


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