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Avignon France Tourist Guide Avignon

Avignon France French Holidays

"Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse." Avignon is the place to be during the summer festivals (July to August) and it has a spectacular range and breadth of museums, monuments, churches, chapels, buildings and eateries to see all year round. It would take years to discover the whole lot, but here is a quick run through of the main ponts, sorry points.


European Capital of Culture in 2000, Avignon is rightly proud of its heritage. Its heyday began in the 14th century when Pope Clement V set up camp here, away from the dangerous political climate in Rome.

Europe's finest (and not so fine) came to Avignon in order to beg, borrow or steal from the popes and, as oppositionists like Petrarch noted, it was rather a filthy place to be, a kind of second Babylon. Papal legates continued to rule the city and the Vaucluse area until they were annexed to France in 1791. What this 14th century turmoil leaves us with is a legacy of beautiful buildings and the Châteauneuf du Pape wine appellation, so who's going to complain first?

Map of Avignon

Avignon airport information http://www.avignon.aeroport.fr

The old town is encircled by the low defence walls, fortified with towers and now extinct moats, separating the old from the modern city roundabout. The most interesting features of Avignon are within a short walk of each other in the walled city. The focus is the 14th century pontifical court, the Palais des Papes (€11 entry with Pont), a fortress cum palace, with a confusing mix of hot oil sluices to fend off attackers and graceful towers. Don't be fooled into thinking that the austere interior signifies that the inhabitants were pious: all the trappings of vice have been removed from this one time hotbed of sin.


Next door the Cathédrale Notre Dame des Doms is a Romanesque structure with Baroque interior and 19th century golden Virgin on the belfry: all in all, a bit too much to stomach. Behind is a human sundial in the Rocher des Doms park, which is a nice and simple contrast to the architecturally messy cathedral. When you visit the 13th to 15th century art collection in the Petit Palais (€6) to the northwest of the main Palais, notice how systems of medieval perspective changed from the biggest figure being the most important, to the biggest figure being the closest to the front. More modern art is on show at the Musée Calvet, 65 rue Joseph Vernet (€6) to the east of the walled city. Behind the Petit Palais stand the remains of the Pont St Bénézet (the famous Pont d'Avignon of the song), built in 1177 to 1185, rebuilt several times and finally washed away in 1660.

http://www.palais des des Official tourist site for Avignon.