If you came to visit Provence, once in Avignon, like a mermaid the city will bewitch you and you will not want to leave!
And just to “see” the city, you can wander for days through its intramural districts without ever getting tired.
Nicknamed “City of the Popes” or “Altera Roma”, Avignon retains the imprint of the Popes’ stay in the city which was once the capital of the medieval West.
Presenting a grandiose urban landscape, dominating the City and the Rhône, the Rocher des Doms offers an exceptional monumental complex consisting of the Pont Saint Bénezet, the Remparts, the Petit Palais, the Cathedral of the Doms and the impressive walls flanked by the four gigantic towers of the Popes’ Palace. This unique architectural ensemble is classified by UNESCO as “World Heritage of Humanity”.
Originally Forum d’Avenio – the Roman city in the 1st century BC. AD – Place de l’Horloge remains the “center” of Avignon. Here is the Town Hall, built between 1845 and 1851 on the site of an old cardinal’s livery, of which he preserved the old fortified tower transformed into a belfry in the 15th century, as well as the clock at Jacquemart. Next door, the municipal theater of the XIXth century, houses the Avignon opera house, in front of which turns the pretty Belle Époque carousel. A meeting place, bordered by terraces of cafes and restaurants, the square is always very lively.
A lane leads to the Place du Palais higher, a vast esplanade invested in summer by street acrobats. As its name indicates, here stands the majestic Popes’ Palace, emblem of the city and monumental witness of the importance of Avignon in the Christian world in the Middle Ages.
Two building popes, Benedict XII and Clement VI, built in less than twenty years (1335 – 1352) the largest Gothic palace, symbol of the power of Christianity and of the temporal and spiritual power that the papacy exercised at that time.
The visit allows you to discover 25 rooms: the large ceremonial rooms that hosted ceremonies and feasts, the chapels with painted decorations, the pope’s private apartments, the terraces from which one discovers a wonderful panorama of the city from Avignon and the Rhône. The pope’s chapels and private apartments have preserved priceless frescoes that bear witness to the innovative work of French and Italian painting schools.
Some painted decorations are attributed to the great Italian painter Matteo Giovannetti.
The city surrounded by its original ramparts is an invitation to stroll, we randomly discover so many alleys, witnesses of the past:chapels and churches, medieval buildings, 18th and 19th century mansions
: art is everywhere, a real open-air museum!
Plots and shaded terraces are places of conviviality.
Today, Avignon is a radiant cultural capital with its world renowned Theater Festival. City of art and culture, theater, cinema, museums, Avignon has many treasures to reveal to its visitors.
The museums offer an incredible variety of collections: from prehistory to the lapidary museum, passing through painting from the Middle Ages to the small palace, Fine arts at the Calvet museum, the Impressionists at Angladon, the decorative arts at Vouland and even contemporary art at the Lambert collection: all eras are represented.
Avignon is also famous for its theater festival, created in 1947 by Jean Vilar which now attracts
all the contemporary creation of the performing arts during summer. At its side, the “Off” festival with more than 1300 shows transforms the city into an immense and joyous stage every July.
Throughout the year, cultural activities ignite the city: opera, permanent theaters, associations, clubs offer music shows, theater, dance.
Large events punctuate the seasons: Passion Horse in January, the Winter Dance Festival in February, Alterarosa in May, the Ban Harvest and an original sound and light show at the Palais des Papes in August.
The city is also a Mecca for initiation to Provencal cuisine: Michelin-starred chefs concoct traditional or innovative dishes to savor in charming restaurants; the halls, the local market offer all local products. Avignon is also the capital of the Côtes du Rhône, don’t forget to taste them!
Bordering with the departments of Gard and Bouches du Rhône, the surroundings of Avignon are also full of a few gems to discover: Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, Boulbon, Saint-Michel de Frigolet Abbey …