Located in the south of the country, Avignon is France’s jewel of the south. History stretches back here for thousands of years, each century contributing to the culture, the style and the beauty of the city, making it one of the best destinations in the country.
The city may not be as large as Paris but its big personality makes up for this. Avignon has a large bustling student population, with students coming here from all over the world to study history, culture, art and languages. This gives Avignon a cultured, cosmopolitan feel to it, allowing visitors on tour here to relax and soak up the sophistication.
There are many attractions to visit here but one thing to do is to explore the city walls. These magnificent stone ramparts surround the city between 1359 and 1370. Even with the weapons the walls were not the state-of-the-art defence system in 14th century but they are an iconic part of the city and an essential element in its character. Within the walls themselves you will find the museums, giving you the chance to understand more about the history of the region.
For art lovers the Musée Angladon is a must-see. It can be found in the heart of the city and features the only Vincent van Gough painting in Provence, named Railway Wagons. There are also other works by Picasso, Cézanne, Sisley, Manet, Degas and many others, each of them guaranteed to take your breath away. Upstairs you will find a collection of historical and cultural artefacts.
For those who prefer modern art and photography, the Collection Lambert highlights the best in artworks produced from the 1960s and 70s.
The Palais des Papes draws visitors to it like a magnet. It has claimed the title of the largest Gothic palace in the world, testifying to the wealth of papacy of the medieval period. In 1342 a massive banquet was held here to celebrate the coronation of Clement IV. This included 95,000 loafs of bread, 39,980 eggs, 50,000 sweet tarts, 118 oxen, 1033 spit-roasted sheep, 7428 chickens and 1195 geese. A tour around the palace leaves you in awe as you discover what life was like here centuries ago.
For somewhere to capture your imagination, take a stroll down to Pont St-Bénézet. This ancient bridge was built in 1185 and was the link that allowed access over the river to allow the establishment of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. Over the years many of its 22 spans have been destroyed and only four remain, but it is a testament to its long life.
The menus here highlight the very best of the regional cuisine and the presentation is so artistic that you may have trouble taking that first bite. Some restaurants can be found in historic grand palaces, allowing each diner to be treated like a king or queen. Little quaint cafes offer the very best in simple home-cooked meals, but whatever your choice you won’t be disappointed.
Avignon’s hotels are some of the finest in the world. Not only do they give you all the comforts of modern life, but as many hotels are established in old buildings, travellers get the full feel of the city’s long history.
Avignon is an ideal holiday spot for travellers; it gives you a good base to explore the region and it has the history, art and culture which appeals to many. Ask anyone who has visited the city and they will confirm that it is simply a magical place in a beautiful country.