Avignon – the city of the Popes. So, apart from Rome, of course.Älgbert Elgson
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The city of Avignon is located in Provence in southern France.
Findings indicate that this place has been populated since the Neolithic Age. The magnificent buildings that can be seen today also indicate the city’s formerly high status and importance.
From 1309 to 1376 it was the seat of the Pope instead of the Vatican. Therefore Avignon is also called „City of the Popes“.
The old town is surrounded by an intact city wall and with the Gothic Pope Palace, the Rocher des Doms and the famous Pont Saint-Bénézet it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Festival d’Avignon, a theater and singing festival, is also known far beyond the borders of France.
The city on the Rhône has always been an important trading and transport center, as a river port was built here very early and a bridge over the river later in the early Middle Ages. This of course needed adequate protection and so a first fortified system was built. The city was expanded under the Romans and raised to a Roman colony. Unfortunately, there are hardly any Roman buildings left today, since they were probably either destroyed or built over during the Popes in Avignon.
Avignon has been destroyed and rebuilt over and over again in the course of history. Of course, this has also changed the appearance of the city. Today, mainly sacral and palace buildings can be found within the city walls. The most famous are the Papal Palace and Pont Saint-Bénézet.
The approximately 4 km long city wall, guarded and preserved with 39 towers and seven gates, is probably the first that you see when you approach the city center.
In the historic old town you will find not only the numerous churches and chapels but also beautiful details on the facades of the apartment buildings or the many small squares that invite you to linger.
Around four million tourists come to Avignon each year to visit the city, the Vaucluse region or the festival. Therefore, almost all hotels are fully booked, especially at the festival time in July.
Around Avignon there are some sights that you should not miss when you are in town.
There are of course countless numbers that we could name here, but above all we want to mention the Fort Saint- André, from which you have a beautiful view of Avignon, the Chartreuse du Val-de-Bénédiction and the famous vineyards around Avignon, all of which are one invite a relaxed walk.
How to get there?
Avignon is very well connected to public transport. Be it by bus from the surrounding area or by train. The Gare d’Avignon Center train station is within walking distance of the old town.
If you are arriving by car, you can either look for a parking space near the city walls or drive straight to the large free parking lot on the Ile de Piot peninsula just outside the city and park your vehicle there. If you are traveling by motorhome, however, you might have problems with the approximately 2.6-meter-high passage gates in France, which are designed to prevent motorhome entry and overnight stays or camping there. However, under the bridge near the campsite on the peninsula there are other parking spaces that can also be reached by campers.
The parking lots to be paid for (for example the Parking payant des Allées de l’Oulle) are similar with a clearance height of around two meters.
In addition to the buildings, the city has an incredible variety of cultural offerings. Those who arrive in the low season, like us, have to expect some restrictions with these offers. For example, some restaurants are closed on weekdays or open later. The advantage is the lower number of tourists.
During the festival season in July, it can get very crowded in the old town streets, because during this time many visitors move through the historic streets of Avignon.
We were here: 2019