5 Things to do in Avignon : the best of Provence
Avignon is a city located in southeastern France, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is situated on the left bank of the Rhône River and is the capital of the Vaucluse department. The city is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, particularly as the seat of the papacy during the 14th century.
One of the most famous landmarks in Avignon is the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), which was the residence of the popes during their exile from Rome in the 14th century. The palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is open to visitors. The city is also home to the Pont Saint-Bénézet, a famous medieval bridge that spans the Rhône River.
Avignon is known for its annual theater festival, the Festival d’Avignon, which takes place every July and attracts visitors from around the world. The festival features a wide range of performances, including theater, dance, music, and visual arts.
In addition to its cultural attractions, Avignon is also a popular destination for its wine, particularly the red wines of the nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. The city is also known for its Provençal cuisine, which includes dishes such as ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and tapenade
Here are some things to see and do in Avignon :
Visit the Palais des Papes
The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is a grand, medieval fortress located in the heart of Avignon, France. It was built in the 14th century as the seat of the papacy during the Avignon Papacy, a period when the popes resided in Avignon rather than Rome.
The palace is an impressive example of Gothic architecture, with massive walls and towers, grand halls and chapels, and ornate decorations. It consists of two main parts: the old palace, built by Pope Benedict XII, and the new palace, built by his successor Pope Clement VI.
Visitors to the Palais des Papes can explore the many rooms and chambers of the palace, including the pope’s private apartments, the ceremonial halls, the chapels, and the impressive Great Audience Hall, which was used for important events and ceremonies.
One of the highlights of the palace is the frescoes that adorn many of the walls and ceilings, which were painted by Italian artists in the 14th century. These frescoes depict scenes from the Bible, the lives of the saints, and the history of the papacy.
Today, the Palais des Papes is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction. Guided tours are available in several languages, and there are also audio guides available for visitors who prefer to explore the palace on their own. In the summer months, the palace is also used as a venue for concerts, theatrical performances, and other cultural events
Walk across the Pont Saint Bénézet
The Pont Saint-Bénézet is a famous medieval bridge located in Avignon, France, spanning the Rhône River. The bridge was originally built in the 12th century, but was later destroyed by floods and rebuilt several times. Today, only four arches of the original 22 still remain.
The bridge is named after Saint Bénézet, a young shepherd boy who had a vision from God instructing him to build a bridge across the Rhône. According to legend, the boy convinced the bishop of Avignon of the authenticity of his vision by lifting a large stone and carrying it to the site of the future bridge. The bishop was convinced and the bridge was built, earning Bénézet the status of a saint.
The Pont Saint-Bénézet is a beautiful and iconic landmark in Avignon. Visitors can walk across the remaining sections of the bridge, which offers stunning views of the Rhône River and the city of Avignon. At the southern end of the bridge, there is a small chapel called the Saint-Bénézet Chapel, which was built in the 14th century and now houses a museum about the history of the bridge.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, the Pont Saint-Bénézet is also a popular subject in art and literature. The bridge is mentioned in the famous French song “Sur le pont d’Avignon” and has been depicted in numerous paintings and other works of art over the years
Explore the Old Town
The old town of Avignon, also known as the “Intra-Muros” area, is a charming and picturesque neighborhood located within the city walls. It is a well-preserved example of medieval and Renaissance architecture, with narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and beautiful squares.
One of the most notable landmarks in the old town is the Palais des Papes, the grand fortress that served as the seat of the papacy during the 14th century. Visitors can explore the many rooms and chambers of the palace, including the pope’s private apartments, the ceremonial halls, and the impressive Great Audience Hall.
Other notable attractions in the old town include the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms, a beautiful cathedral with stunning views of the Rhône River and the surrounding countryside, and the Musée du Petit Palais, a museum housed in a beautiful Renaissance palace that contains an impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance art.
Wandering through the narrow streets of the old town is a delightful experience, with plenty of charming cafes, boutiques, and artisan shops to explore. The Place de l’Horloge is a lively square in the heart of the old town, lined with cafes and restaurants and home to a weekly market. The Rue des Teinturiers is another picturesque street, lined with waterwheels and mossy walls, and a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.
Overall, the old town of Avignon is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and architecture. Its well-preserved medieval and Renaissance buildings, charming streets, and historic landmarks make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
Sample the local cuisine
Avignon is known for its Provençal cuisine, which features fresh ingredients like tomatoes, eggplant, and olive oil. Be sure to try local specialties like ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and tapenade, and wash it all down with a glass of local wine from the nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape region
Taste Chateauneuf du Pape wines
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a famous wine region located in the southern Rhône Valley in France, and is known for producing some of the finest and most highly-regarded red wines in the world. The wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are made primarily from the Grenache grape, along with other varietals like Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault.
The soil and climate of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are ideal for growing high-quality grapes. The region has a warm and sunny Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and mild winters. The soil is rocky and stony, which helps to regulate the temperature and provide good drainage for the vines.