October 16, 2017

Avignon, City of the Popes

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Avignon during a stop on a Rhone River cruise through Provence. The annual Avignon Festival was on and a brisk mistral wind was whipping through the streets –a whirlwind much like my visit. But last summer I spent a whole week there, staying at a hotel just outside the medieval ramparts only steps away from the historic city centre. This longer visit allowed me to see a quieter side of the City of the Popes, Avignon.



Medieval Rampart of Avignon



On our first day in Avignon, a local guide led us on a walking tour of the historic centre. We started at Square Agricol Perdiguier where I saw my first magnolia tree.



Square Agricol Perdiguier


The Garden


Magnolia Blossom


Rue de la République is one of the city's main shopping streets.



Rue de la République, Avignon










Bust of Frederic Mistral



It leads to Place de l’Horloge, Clocktower Square. The square is named for the clocktower on the Hotel de Ville, Town Hall, but you could easily miss the tower if you don’t know where to look. It's a little easier to spot if you move further away.


Place de l'Horloge, Clocktower Square



Hotel de Ville, Town Hall



View of the Clock Tower from the Square



A Better View of the Clock Tower



Café on Clocktower Square



Baroque Carousel on Place de l'Horloge




In nearby Place du Palais, Palace Square, we took a much-needed break for a cold drink. The City of Avignon was hosting an exhibition of contemporary African art. The tall figure reaching for the sky is La Prière universelle, Universal Prayer, by Senegal sculptor Ndary Lo.



Place du Palais, Palace Square




Art on Place du Palais


Universal Prayer, Ndary Lo



We then headed for nearby Rocher des Doms. This hilltop park provides a bird’s eye view of the Rhone River and Avignon's famous bridge, Pont Saint-Bénézet.


Access Ramp to Rocher des Doms







Saint Bénézet Bridge



The Rhone River



Shuttle Boat Across the Rhone



Café in the Park



In the 14th century, the heavily fortified Palais des PapesPalace of the Popes, served as the residence of a second Catholic pope for about 100 years.


Palais des Papes, Palace of the Popes



Palace Interior








At lunchtime we found our way back to charming Place des Corps Saints for a sandwich next to a fountain shaded by plane trees. Two friendly reporters were on the scene interviewing people about the unusual June heatwave that was plaguing much of France.


Place des Corps Saints








French Television Reporters







Maison Violette



The rest of the week we spent travelling outside the city to explore the smaller villages of Provence but each day we returned to Avignon for dinner. I can't resist sharing photos of delicious food so here’s a small sampling.


Salad



Soup



... and Dessert


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