Avignon, an enticing medieval town in southern France, is found in the region of Provence. At times referred to as city of the popes, Avignon was sanctuary for nine such men who sought reprieve from the hostilities of Rome. Once established, these illustrious men embarked on an architectural odyssey, and a distinguished town was born.
Today, Avignon is a magnet for sightseers in quest of rich history and an ambience absorbed in fervour, none more so than during the annual drama festival. Every July thousands of visitors congregate in support of this celebrated occasion, though accommodation may perhaps come at a premium. If you can endure the squeeze then this event comes especially recommended.
The heart of Avignon is enclosed via a commanding wall, constructed in the fourteenth century by the now occupant popes, and serving as a gauge of their intent for remaining at their recent quarters. These prominent walls prevail today – as does much of the ancient architecture – in a remarkably preserved state, presenting an immense contrast among early and progressive worlds.
Set against the magnificent backdrop of Palais des Papes, the bustling principal market of place de l’Horloge is alive with activity. Business prospers as tourist and native endeavour to seek bargain of the day. Take a seat, quench your thirst, and devour the unique ambience afforded from this mature, town emporium.
Neighbouring the frenzied coffee shops and market district, you soon discover the Musee du Petit Palais and its fine collection of religious art. Some of this work dates as far back as the thirteenth-century, inspiring many a young artist privileged to have encountered this distinguished city.
On behalf of modern art, the Musee Calvet is well worth a look, possessing a number of exquisite works. Once engrossed in the splendour of these canvases, afternoons merely lapse unnoticed, every print inciting your mind’s eye.
Protruding from the riverbank, the Pont d’Avignon is testament of the sands of time. Built in the fourteenth-century in support of a developing township, this charismatic bridge was relentlessly plundered by the ceaseless course of the Rhone, ultimately succumbing in the seventeenth-century when preservation was considered no longer viable. Today it remains as a monument to the triumph of the river and is perhaps the most instantly recognisable feature of Avignon.