Travel Log: Avignon, France

I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far!  I am thankful for some much needed time with girlfriends, plus an early birthday celebration with my family.  For today's post, I want to share more French Riviera vacation photos-specifically our day trip to Avignon.  Avignon is a UNESCO world heritage city located in the Provence region of southern France, with history dating back to medieval times.  It was about a three hour drive from our home base in Nice using the A8/A7 highway.  I want to add in a warning about the tolls in France-they add up really fast!  There were several toll gates along the way from Nice to Avignon, and the total toll cost was over 40 euros round trip.  Something to think about if you travel in this region is weighing the mobility of a car with the cost of renting the vehicle, gas, and tolls against the cost of taking trains.  For us, the car was the way to go because we wanted to drive and stop wherever we chose, but the trains are convenient and could be a more cost effective option.

Sweater:  "Variegated Stripe Pullover" in royal azure (also available in white), $59.99 at Banana Republic here
Shorts: Nordstrom Rack (old), similar "3-inch Chino Short" in white, $45 at J Crew here
Sandals: DV by Dolce Vita "Faroe" sandal in natural, $29.90 at here
Crossbody Satchel: Dooney & Bourke (old), similar Kelly & Katie "Tassel Mini Cross Body Bag" in cognac (also available in 2 other colors), $24.95 at DSW here
Sunglasses: Kate Spade "Lulu" in tortoise gold/brown gradient, $82.04 (41% off!) at Amazon here

I absolutely loved walking through the streets of Avignon.  The building facades have been beautifully restored, and I felt transported back in time.  There are many little shops and restaurants to meander through, but the main attraction is the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes).  Built in the 1300's, the Palais des Papes was the residence of seven different French popes during a time called the Avignon Papacy.  From what I understand, Pope Clement V was elected in 1305 but didn't feel like moving to Rome.  He set up shop in Avignon and the next six French popes after him stuck with the plan until Pope Gregory XI finally moved back to Rome.  It's a huge palace with vineyards and gardens-we didn't pay to take the tour of the inside of the palace, but walked around the exterior and took in the beautiful view of the Rhone River valley and Saint-Benezet Bridge.

Next to the Palais des Papes is the older, 12th century Cathedral Notre-Dame-des-Doms.  This cathedral was built before the Palais des Papes, but the massive palace dwarfs it now.

From the cathedral entrance, you can walk up to the hilltop garden of the Rocher des Doms.  This garden is located on the same area where the first inhabitants of this area (the Chaseens) settled back in 4,000 BC.  When leaving the garden, you can head down to the Saint-Benezet Bridge via the old fortress steps.  The Saint-Benezet Bridge is known by French children as the "Pont d'Avignon" (Avignon bridge) from a 19th century nursery rhyme: "Sur le Pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse..."  I don't know if this bridge was ever a popular spot for dancing, but the song and the bridge's popularity with tourists lives on.

This photo looks out over the Rhone River from the Saint-Benezet bridge.  This bridge originally spanned the wide Rhone River and the small island Ile de la Barthelasse with twenty-two arches, but today only four remain.  The rest have been slowly washed away by the powerful Rhone River.  Tourists can walk out across those four arches to the end of the existing bridge, including a little chapel dedicated to the Patron Saint of Mariners.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of salmon and duck salads and local white wine before leaving Avignon, perfect for this beautiful eighty-something degree afternoon!

I hope you enjoyed this photo tour of Avignon, and that it inspires you to learn more about a historic European city that intrigues you!  I also hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and thank you for reading!


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