My second to last day in France I spent in Avignon, and since it was the weekend of Heritage Days (Jours de la Patrimoine), I also enjoyed free entrance and a free walking tour in the city. By the way, I took the bike on the train to Avignon which was very handy as I didn’t have to take a bus to get from my chambre d’hotes in Comps to the nearest train station in Tarascon.
I won’t say that I liked Avignon much, after visiting small places like Tarascon and Beaucaire, this city was a bit too much of shops and tourists. However there were some spots in the city which I did like. And the river always makes a city much more attractive I suppose.
You somehow expect lots of stones AND roses in a city like Avignon, don’t you?
When I arrived in Avignon I headed towards the Palais des Papes, first things first. There was not still a huge crowd which later got bigger and bigger – the entrance was for free! The palace or rather fortress is huge and somewhat stuffy at the same time. In some of the halls you almost feel all those years, things, deeds and ideas weighing down on you. Like this intricate ceiling:
or the palace wall built upon – or rather growing from the cliff:
I liked the stain-glass windows though – these were amazing in the Palais des Papes!
a checker-board window
you could virtually take photos of every single window there:
well, doors were also alright, like this sturdy one with a “Private” sign on it:
When I get to a new city I try to see it from various angles. One of the best options is to climb something and look at it from above. Thus you somehow ‘feel’ the place better, can tell its size and scope. The top of the palace tower was curious not only for its view on the river and the rest of the city spreading along the other side, but also for these medieval decorations of the roof and the pinnacles:
There were also dogs and monsters, all either climbing up or looking down at you. The other thing I liked in Avignon was – as usual – wandering in its streets particularly those not much frequented by the crowds. There were some interesting details to observe:
And there was also a certain style and colour scheme which helped create an overall impression of this rather heavy (both in terms of its history and its architecture) place:
liked this one a lot:
for me there was a bit too much stone in the city which makes you want to escape from it:
…lavender reminded me I was still in Provence!
Before joining the free walking tour in the city, I heard this on the square while eating a super tasty wholewheat walnut bread and (oh!) cheese:
The walking tour was a rather short one. It was super windy and at the same time rather hot which made us appreciate the closeness of the Rhône river. This is what is left from the famous (thanks to the eponymous song) Pont d’Avignon or the Saint-Bénezet bridge. As it was also open to public, I walked right to the end of it and, well, came back (just as everyone else does)🙂 It’s a weird attraction but at the same time it’s nice to be in the middle of the river and stay dry!
I also enjoyed the garden which can be seen in the photo above – there’s a view over the city and the river plus there’s this exclusive vineyard with the only wine produced right in the middle of the city in France (if I’m not mistaken). Well, I didn’t try the wine but I did try a local (or so it seems) sweet treat – with a glazed almond top and a soft shortbread base. It was very sweet but also very tasty… I tried it after I go to the other side of Rhône overlooking the Palace and the city walls.
I felt much better once I got out of the city walls actually. There’s something about Avignon which is stifling, or at least it is how it appeared to me. From the other side of the river Avignon also looks incredibly toy-like with its walls as if reproducing some lego castle. Or was it the other way round?🙂
- bookstore & postcards – nope, got mine in Arles and later in Nîmes too.
- museum – yes, Palais des Papes was enough for the museum part that day. Also visited the city administration building. Unlike Tarascon, the local theatre was locked.
- local food – tried that sweet thingy with almonds, mmm!
- market – no, though for the sake of the Heritage Days there were all those handicrafts and paintings on sale
- old town – apart from being somewhat stifling and way too ‘heavy’ there are certain things that I liked
And here’s my preferred means of transport – with the view over the city and the ‘unfinished’ Avignon bridge – which is actually just ruined and not unfinished🙂