Avignon and Provence

Nearest Train Station: Avignon Ville/Centre.  Eurostar trains stops at Avignon TGV which is an hour away from Avignon Centre stop, so you can either take a cab or take a shuttle/ train.  Normally your eurostar ticket should cover that as well.  From London, there is a direct train that takes around 6 hours.

Avignon (French pronunciation:  [a.viˈɲɔ̃]) is a commune in south-eastern France in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 90,194 inhabitants of the city (as of 2011), about 12,000 live in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts.
Between 1309 and 1377 during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when, during the French Revolution, it became part of France. The town is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.
The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papesthe cathedral, and the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism.
The commune has been awarded one flower by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.[2] (Wikipedia)

Rocher Des Doms

The Rocher des Doms is the cradle of Avignon. It is and always has been a popular spot for a promenade. You reach it by the steps leading from the cathedral Notre Dame des Doms, by the Sainte-Anne steps or by those from the banks of the Rhône. (Avignon Tourism)





Pont D'Avignon (Pont St-Benezet)

The Pont Saint-Bénézet (French pronunciation:  [pɔ̃ sɛ̃ benezɛ]), also known as the Pont d'Avignon (IPA: [pɔ̃ daviɲɔ̃]), is a famous medieval bridge in the town of Avignon, in southern France.
A bridge spanning the Rhone between Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Avignon was built between 1177 and 1185. This early bridge was destroyed forty years later during the Albigensian Crusade when Louis VIII of France laid siege to Avignon. The bridge was rebuilt with 22 stone arches. It was very costly to maintain as the arches tended to collapse when the Rhone flooded. Eventually in the middle of the 17th century the bridge was abandoned. The four surviving arches on the bank of the Rhone are believed to have been built in around 1345 by Pope Clement VI during the Avignon Papacy. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas sits on the second pier of the bridge. It was constructed in the second half of 12th century but has since been substantially altered. The western terminal, the Tour Philippe-le-Bel, is also preserved. (Wikipedia)
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View of Pont d'Avignon from Rocher des Doms


"Sur le Pont d'Avignon" is a French song about the Pont d'Avignon that dates back to the 15th century. The bridge is officially Pont St. Bénézet but it is better known as the Pont d'Avignon on which one dances, as the song says.
Sur le Pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse
Sur le Pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tous en rond
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there, we all dance there
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there in a ring

Les beaux messieurs font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.
Gentlemen go like this (bow)
And then again like this

Les belles dames font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.
The beautiful young ladies go like this (curtsy)
And then like that

Les filles font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça
The young girls go like this (salute)
And then like that

Les musiciens font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.
The musicians go like this (they all bow to women)
And then like that






The Chapel of St. Benezet



It is currently under reconstruction - May 2015






Palais Des Papes (Papal Palace)


The Palais des Papes (English: Papal palace, lo Palais dei Papas in Occitan) is a historical palace in Avignon, southernFrance, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. One time fortress and palace, the papal residence was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. Six papal conclaves were held in the Palais, leading to the elections of Benedict XII in 1334, Clement VI in 1342, Innocent VI in 1352, Urban V in 1362,Gregory XI in 1370 and Antipope Benedict XIII in 1394. (Wikipedia)

I personally think that the Palace was simply OK as it had the new and old courtyards, but I have probably seen a lot of palaces and castles that it just seemed OK to me.  Do not expect "Vatican" type of interior as this is really 14th century old palace and it lot of damage due to the revolution.  Fortunately, they have been restructuring it e.g. the twin tower at the entrance is actually a reconstruction.






Chimney of the Kitchen (Cuisine Haute)





Courtyard of the New Papal Residence Building


Miniature

Frescoes 







The Grand Hall



The Grand Chapel

A tour group singing inside the Grand Chapel

The Sacristy beside the Grand Chapel


 The Queen Joan I of Naples asking help from the Pope Clement VI ending in her selling Avignon to the Pope

The Popes who resided in the Papal Palace





The three Popes: Pope John XXII, Benedict XII (Old Palace), Clement VI (New Palace)



View from one of the towers of the Papal Palace





The main entrance of the Grand Chapel which has much of the sculptures and the heads were removed during the revolution



Just outside the exit of the Palace was a busker who I thought initially was a real statue :)


The buttress supporting the Palace

Around the Papal Palace










Photo Sphere here.


Rue Republique


Where to eat?


Brasserie Hotel De Ville

Just right opposite Hotel de Ville,  near Papal Palace and at the Place de L'horloge.  Nothing fantastic but the 3-course menu is not bad and it's kinda cheap - 20 Euros.  But I would probably try to look for another restaurant which is cheaper and better. *Not sure why this was even mentioned in Conde Nast Traveller Blog. 



Plats du Jour (Dish of the day): Dos de Lieu Noir (sauce ausc Fruits de Mer)

Salmon Salad - I actually enjoyed this. Quite a big serving.  The salmon wasn't that fishy.

Maison Nani

Rue Republique (quite Close from Carrefour and Sephora)
A good option for cheap and good Provençal Food!
Nain Great Platter (16.90 Euros)
This is a good platter to try out Crespou, Aubergine Stuffed Salad, and Goat Cheese. 

A property of Chateau Neuf du Papes Winery


Les Halles (The Market)

From raw meat to cooked food, this is a great place to find cheap and good food.




Hiely Lucullus

Link: http://www.hiely-lucullus.com/
Mentioned in Conde Nast Traveller Blog, this place was sort of a Michelin-starred restaurant, fine dining and pricey.   But personally, I did not really enjoyed it.  Some of the food, example was dessert but I think I would have just gone to some of those off the usual recommended places in Avignon as there are a lot of really good restaurants in the back streets.  We had a 3-course menu costing around 32 Euros (+7 for Pied & Paquets) plus service and tax.







Celery Soup with Some Truffles and Vanilla Cream
Quite Creamy and really good. A good way to start your dinner.


Ravioli and Mussels
This tasted a bit too salty and "fishy".  Didn't really like it that much.

Pied & Paquets
Tripes and Feet lamb.  This tasted a bit similar to like those stewed Chinese meat and it smelled really a bit. I did't like it. Though they mentioned that has been a recipe since 1938.


Strawberry Cream with Merengue
This is quite tasty and the lemon gel helped clear out the palette.

the bill



and they even have a menu for water!!

Where to Stay?

Hotel St. Danieli

(along Rue Republique)
150 Euros per room per night for 3 people. Not that bad, they just renovated the place (when I was there 2015) so it is quite new though the entrance was a bit kinda scary and old.  The only bad thing is that the shower was really very small and the wifi is really slow and a bit of a pain especially if you are on the 3rd floor. And yah, NO LIFTS! But, it is also just a 5 minute walk to the Papal Palace.




Full Provence Tour


See Link here from Avignon Tourism site.
Cost: 105 Euros
Time: 9am to 7 pm
Description: a full day excursion to get a taste of Provence - le Pont du Gard, Luberon, Musée de la Lavande, Les Baux-de-provence, Sourmillon, Rousillon, Gordes

Pont du Gard

One of the most beautiful bridges and this is know for its Roman Aqueduct.

The Pont du Gard (literally: Gard Bridge) is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River, from which it takes its name.[4] It is located in Vers-Pont-du-Gard near Remoulins, in the Gard département of southern France. The bridge is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50 km-long (31 mi) structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). (Wikipedia)







Les Baux-de-Provence


Baux is Provençal term which means Rock and actually looks like a r.  There is a castle in the villa which is sort of built within the rock formation and has a good panoramic view of the valley.  It also has a very interesting Castle (Château_des_Baux) which is built within the rocks and has a magnificent view of the valley.









The Village of Baux which has around 22 inhabitants and below is around 300 but has 200K tourist every year.









Eglise Saint Vincent




La Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs - Frescoes

La Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs


View from the Terrace Near La Chapelle  des Penitents Blancs



Château_des_Baux






















Les Antiques de Glanum

Glanum was an oppidum, or fortified town in present day Provence, founded by a Celto-Ligurian people called the Salyens in the 6th century BCE.[5] It became officially a Roman city in 27 BCE and was abandoned in 260 AD. (Wikipedia)

You can also find Van Gogh's Mental Hospital around here and his inspiration for his paintings.

















Rousillon

Known for its famous colored rock-formation (Ochre-colored sand).  And actually has also a pretty village.  Do spend an hour going around the cliff which costs around 6 Euros.































Musee De La Lavande

Provence is obviously known for its lavender.  There is a difference between fine lavender which grows 800 meters above sea level and has medical application.  Lavandin are the cheaper version which grows 0 to 800 meters high and is used for soap and detergent.








Gordes 

This village is known as the village of limestones and the original houses were not built with cement but basically assembled with limestone rocks.   There is also the restaurant where the "Good Year" the movie.








The Castle




Square Agricol


A small park near the train station and has a good nice quaint structure.



 




Villeneuve


10 minutes away from Avignon and has great view of Avignon Town!  You can actually see this, with the Fort, from the Rocher Des Doms.

How to go there?
Bus 5 from the post office (near the Gate Entrance which is near the Avignon Centre Train station, but it is inside the walls).  It costs 1.30 Euros One way and you can get off at the Office de Toursime.

Tip: Try to go to Office of Tourism in Avignon and inquire and get the "Avignon Pass" to get some discounts.

Chartreuse du Val-de-Benediction 

Cost: 8 Euros / But with Avignon Pass 6.50 Euros
Palace Monastery founded in the 14th century by Pope Innocent VI.  This place was quite interesting as seeing the various rooms and cloisters but honestly, it is just any normal ruins/buildings and would probably just skip this one.


















Saint Andre Abbey and Gardens

Cost: 6 Euros/ with Avignon Pass 5 Euros
We initially tried going to Fort Saint-Andre (same ground) since we heard that it has a great view of Avignon and the Rhone Valley, but unfortunately, it was already closed. So we ended up going to the Abbey and Gardens.  The Abbey was interesting but the gardens was interesting as it is considered as one of the beautiful gardens in France and it definitely is as it has such a nice view of Avignon and the Rhone Valley.  Do try to to just sit down and order a pot of tea to enjoy the view and gardens.






















Others to see

Colegial Saint-Agricol






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