A visit to Avignon is a must for any trip to Provence. It is an ancient, walled city surrounded by medieval stone ramparts, situated by the Rhone River. Once inside, you will find narrow passageways, charming town squares, the famous Palais des Papes, and Pont d’Avignon, along with many other interesting sites.
Between 1309 – 1377, it was the seat of the Catholic popes, and the massive Palais des Papes is filled with rich history. The first time I visited le palais was in 1998. My husband was sitting in the adjoining square working on a sketch, so I wandered in on my own, looked around, lit a few candles and said some prayers. It was October, so there were only a few people there. I had the place mostly to myself.
We returned to Avignon many years later, and oh my, how things have changed! After paying a fifteen euro admission fee, we were ushered through a metal detector, and saw many tour groups, as well as many modern art displays. In order to exit, we were ushered through a gift shop where sippy cups, t-shirts, toys, many types of trinkets, all with images of le palais, were for sale. Et, bien sur, there is a wine shop, The Pope’s Wine Cellar, where one can purchase Vin de Palais des Papes. The commercialism made me sad, but it is still an amazing place to visit, which I highly recommend.
Le Pont d’Avignon is another interesting place to visit and has the designation of being a World Heritage site. The bridge and gate house are open to visitors for a small admission fee.
There are many other sites to visit in Avignon, but one of my favorite things to do is to wander through the narrow streets, take photos, stop for tea or a glass of wine, and watch the people go by.
Avignon is easy to navigate on foot, so you won’t need a rental car. In fact, it is difficult to get around the inner city in a car, so use Lyft, Uber, or public transportation.
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