Avignon

Avignon, France

Avignon, France

Avignon is a charming and graceful city in the world famous Provence region of southern France. Once the seat of power for Europe’s papal powers, Avignon remains with much to boast about, including a treasury of incredible architecture and art, none more impressive than the colossal medieval Palais des Papes. Through museums, old squares, and historic buildings, visitors can breathe in the beauty of this once bustling and beautiful French city.

History

History

History

Avignon sat at the crossroads of important migratory and trade routes between north and south Europe and betweenSpain and Italy, and therefore played a significant role in the history of both France and Europe. During the High Antiquity, Avignon was a Phoenician trading center that evolved into a bustling Roman village. Avignon’s people suffered at the hands of the Barbarians through relentless invasions. Trade expanded due to the Rhone Bridge and its natural strategic point. In 1309, Pope Clement V chose the city as his residence, and it remain the papal seat until 1377. The papal presence led to the city’s designation as a western world capital during medieval times through to the fifteenth century. In the 19th century the city was relatively unknown but made a comeback in the 20th century as a cultural hotspot. Today it owes its international popularity to its theater heritage, Provencal literature revival, and is the birthplace of the cultural and literary association Félibrige

Papal Palaces – Palais des Papes

Papal Palaces – Palais des Papes

Papal Palaces – Palais des Papes

The Papal Palaces of Avignon are some of the most significant of all medieval Gothic architecture in Europe. The construction of the historical landmark, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, began in 1252 AD under direction of Pope Clement V and became the papal residence in 1309. The two-phase Palais des Papes includes the Old Palace and New Palace, Palais Vieux and Palais Neuf respectively. It served as the papal residency because of the unrest in Rome after Clement's appointment. Overlooking the Rhone River, the location was once the Episcopal palace of the Avignon bishops. The papal legacy remained for almost four decades but eventually crumbled even after a restoration in the 16th century.

Museums & Attractions

Museums & Attractions

Museums & Attractions

Discovering the treasures of Avignon is fulfilled by visiting some of the city’s best museums. The Calvet Museumis most popular, founded in 1810 by European art collector Esprit Calvet. An impressive collection of wrought iron work from the 14th and 15th century, and 17th and 18th century artwork is available for viewing in the recently restored facility. Art lovers will also appreciate the The Louis Vouland Arts Decorative Museum and Angladon Museum where the works of Picasso, Cezanne and other famous artists are on display. The museum of the Petit Palais showcases Italian primitive paintings and the Pope’s Palace is home to the Museum of Old Avignon. Other landmarks include The Palais du Roure, Pont Saint Benezet, Place de l'Horloge, and Ile de la Barthelasse. Located only about 40 miles upriver from Arles, both cities are often on the itineraries of France river cruise. 

Avignon Festival

Avignon Festival

Avignon Festival  Image: Andrea Schaffer (flickr)

The setting for the annual, arts-focused Avignon Festival is in the courtyard of the magical, Gothic-inspired Papal Palaces. Founded by actor and director Jean Vilar in 1947, the Avignon Festival is one of the most prestigious in France and the oldest existing festival in the country. The festival is broken into two parts, or series, called “in” and “off,” a distinction made mostly for identifying the theater companies and locations. The three-week period showcases almost one thousand plays within the courtyard and other city locations.

Avignon Hotels & Lodging

Avignon Hotels & Lodging

Avignon Hotels & Lodging

There are several large hotels located in Avignon, mostly spaced from north to south with the northernmost hotel being the closest to the Palais des Papes. Hotel Mercure Cite des Papes (pictured) is ony a few blocks from the palace, close to the opera theater, and near many dining and shopping options. Equidistant from the palace are two hotels, one near the Town Square on the west side and the other close to the palace library. The Hotel D’Europe, opened since 1799, is closest to the Rhone. The historic hotel in the Old Town features an on-site restaurant, rooftop lounge, and a heavy dose of romantic charm.

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

La Rochelle

La Rochelle

La Rochelle France is a seaport town on the Atlantic coast. Boasting an impre...

Latest Topics

More Forum Posts »