"Do you think that we have time to visit that street that you mentioned?" "I think that we do." I was standing on the main thoroughfare of the rue de la Republique in Avignon, questioning the elegant Madame L. We had missed the bus back to the little village that we both live in and did not quite have time for a museum but only a bit of exploring. It had been one of those forays into the former Cité des Papes where nothing had worked out as it should have, from restaurants and errands and the like so I was bit sur ma faim, still hungry for a little something else.
She had already mentioned the rue des Teinturiers a while back but somehow we had never quite made it, not having strayed far enough. With a click in her patent heel boots, she turned and we were off with only a pause as she asked directions from a gentleman smoking in the doorway of an epicerie fine.
"Here we are," she announced with that warm smile of hers. And as I turned the corner, I sighed happily. Yes, I knew that the name of the street has sounded familiar, I had read about this area after all. I recognized it by the canals from the Sorgue River turning the neighborhood into a several block French Venice. The suns rays folded back the shutters of the surrounding hôtel particuliers on one side and ran down the terracotta tiles of the former ateliers on the other until they flicked the surface of the water into diamond-like beads.
For an area imbued in such long-reaching history (of which I will share more with you in the next post), there was a playful spirit in the air, perhaps buoyed by ghosts from local theaters past and present. It turns out that many of the smaller venues home to the famous Avignon Theatre Festival's "Off" segment can be found here as well. We popped into a friperie where the salesgirl laughed at our trying to tempt each other into buying vintage Céline and Girogio Armani..."No for you," "What? I was thinking for you"...and continued on past a pair of old friends bantering over a pitcher of cider at a café under the plane trees.
The light was warm, the day was beautiful, I wanted to clasp it tightly and hold it dear...until I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a monster, albeit in the form of a very small boy dressed in a wolf costume. He seemed especially proud of himself so I dared to ask if I could take his photo. He agreed with a silent nod of the head but was too frozen under the cameras gaze to acquiesce to my pleas that he scratch at the air with his "claws." His father looked on, biting his lips into a grin. And then it hit me. "Is it carnival already?" "Yes, of course," he responded, bemused at my ignorance as he reclaimed the little ones hand.
A time of trickery, of shifting sands then right below our feet and all given with joy once we dared to take those few steps beyond the well-known beaten path. A fine reward.