Marcus Travel Journal
Avignon is a beautiful town. On our previous visits we have enjoyed the feel of the town with the stone walls that date from the 14th Century as well as the Palais of the Popes. The old walls were built, destroyed and rebuilt a number of times as a result of attacks on the town. They were grand defensive walls with at one time 12 gates allowing passes through the walls. Now there are about 15 car routes and 11 pedestrian walkways used to enter the town.
The top sights note for Avignon include:
- Pont Saint-Bénéet - only part of this old bridge remains, but it is very scenic. Unfortunately, there is a fee to walk the bridge. You can walk below the bridge on the footpaths at no cost. the best views are said to be from the Parc Rocher des Doms (Perched atop a rock high above the city) and the pont Édouard Daladier , which is on the way to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.
- Palais des Papes - this is the old fortified residence of seven successive popes during the 14th Century when they fled Rome for safety.
- Les Halles d’Avignon - the covered market place is a classic and great to pick up food to take home. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 6 am – 1:30 pm on weekdays and 6 am – 2 pm on weekends.
- Église Saint Symphorien - located on the edge of the historic city centre, the church dates to 1267, and of the Covent of Carmelites is one of the lesser known ecclesiastical buildings that Avignon has to offer. Free to enter, highlights include 17 chapels alongside the nave and early 17th-century panels by Guillaume-Ernest Grève.
- Cloître des Carmes - these are next to the Carmelite Church. The cloisters were once part of the Carmelite Monastery Complex that used to stand where the square and nearby shops can now be found. Built during the 14th-century, the cloisters were restored in the 1900s.
- Clocher des Augustins - Avignon's leaning tower dating to 1372, and all that remain of the Augustine Convent.
- Couvent des Cordeliers - an old convent of Franciscans (1226), built outside the original fortified walls. The church was vast in size and was not actually completed until the mid-14th-century! However, all this changed after the French Revolution when the ecclesiastical building was confiscated and sold off. Visit today and you can expect to find just one tiny chapel, a picturesque façade and a crumbling bell tower.
- Villeneuve-Lès-Avignon - good views of Avignon, Fort Saint André is a 14th-century fortification, walk along the ramparts. In the main part of town is a centuries-old collegiate church complete with cloisters.
In Avignon, the Pont Saint-Bénézet, a medieval bridge crossing now only part of the Rhône, provided passage from Avignon and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.
I went early one morning to photograph the bridge. I wanted the river to be calm, and have a scene with no boats on the river.
Today there are four of the bridge arches remaining. There were 22 stone arches, but by the 17th Century the bridge was abandoned as the arches tended to collapse every time the Rhône flooded. The Saint Nicholas Chapel sits on a platform on the upstream side of the second pier (between the second and third arches). The bridge chapel has undergone several phases of reconstruction and restoration. It is now divided into two floors, each with a nave and an apse.