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Avignon guide
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Last updated : Nov 2009
Avignon Travel Guide
Avignon Travel Guide and Avignon Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
Avignon, situated in the heart of the Vaucluse region in the south of France, is famed for two celebrated attractions, Le Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) and Pont St Bénezet (the bridge made famous in the ditty ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse…’).

But the city has so much more to offer. The Palais des Papes marks the skyline with its graceful spires, an exterior more awe-inspiring than anything inside. Fire destroyed many of the rooms and only a single bedroom remains fully furnished to impress visitors. The famous bridge, erected in the 12th century, to carry St Bénezet to the neighbouring village of Villeneuve, nowadays retains only 4 of its original 22 arches.

Flood, fire, pillaging, plague and Le Mistral have all ravaged Avignon. Allegedly, the town got its name from the Celts, who dubbed the area Avenio’ (‘the town of violent winds’), in the Bronze Age. Despite this, most of Avignon amazingly has remained intact. Around every corner of the narrow, winding cobbled streets, elaborately decorated chapels, churches and convents are revealed. Most date from the 14th century, when Avignon became the centre of Christendom and the Palais des Papes was home to a series of 7 popes, often more interested in plotting and partying than religion.

Located on the River Rhône, the setting of Avignon is as colourful as its history, with images straight out of a Van Gogh painting. Quiet streets, secluded courtyards and secret gardens, cosy pavement cafés and fantastic restaurants frequented almost entirely by the locals make Avignon the perfect place for a lovely romantic weekend away. Nevertheless, the city is rarely completely at peace. In the 13th century, Avignon became known as the ‘ringing town’ because of its proliferation of bells. Today, during the summer months, the population of some 88,000 is almost doubled by visitors.

Although subject to some violent winds (the most famous being Le Mistral, a cold, dry and northwesterly wind) Avignon’s climate is otherwise pleasant, with warm summers, perfect for alfresco activities. The annual Avignon Festival runs throughout July and attracts aspiring performers and aficionados of the arts. The official festival usually numbers over 40 different acts with most of them performing in the evocative courtyard of the Palais des Papes or in old churches and cloisters around Avignon. There is also a local ‘fringe’, known as the ‘Off’ Festival, which comprises 400 acts running non-stop from dawn through to the early hours. Every lamppost and railing is covered with signs advertising some performance, every café has a resident musician and every square is crammed with minstrels, clowns and artists. The scene could be straight out of medieval times, if it were not for the tourists.
Useful travel links
Avignon Tourist Office Tourist Information