A bridge to the past… Credit: flickr-jp-tonn
Once the seat of popes and the capital of the medieval world, Avignon is a truly enchanting destination on the banks of the River Rhône. Inside the fortified city walls, its rich heritage can be seen in the awesome architecture – understandably declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And Avignon is still an important cultural centre, with an internationally renowned theatre festival each summer. If you have time, it’s worth making a trip out of town to explore the surrounding lavender fields and vineyards of Provence.
Palais des Papes:
The Popes’ Palace was built in the mid-14th-century while Avignon was the seat of the Papacy. It’s the biggest Gothic palace in Europe and you can now nose around many of its rooms, including the pope’s private chambers.
Musée du Petit Palais:
The Little Palace Museum houses a great collection of 13th- to 16th-century Italian religious paintings, including Botticelli’s Virgin and Child. There are also a number of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school.
Pont St. Bénezet:
You’ll probably know St. Bénezet Bridge from the famous French song, Sur le pont d’Avignon. Only four of the original 22 arches remain but it’s still a must-see. The museum and shop near the entrance are well worth a visit too.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms:
Mainly built during the 12th century, Avignon Cathedral is a Romanesque building whose most immediately striking feature is the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary standing on top of the western tower.
One of France’s 32 listed museums, Musée de Calvet houses over 28,000 items in such varied categories as archaeology, fine arts, decorative arts and ethnology.