I’m not an expert on Avignon. This girl is. Me? I just went for the day. A glorious, sunny, beginning-of-summer day.
It was May, and the weather had been awful. I spent last May zipping around between Paris, Voiron, Grenoble, and Annecy, and it was gorgeous everywhere! (Even Paris.) So I said to mom and dad, come visit me in May! The weather is sure to be super.
And France turned me into a big fat liar. But Avignon turned all that around for me.
It only takes an hour on the TGV to go from Lyon to Avignon. The Avignon TGV station a) is gorgeous and I took a million pictures of it and b) is 6 kilometers from the center of Avignon, so you have to get on a second train which stops right outside the ancient walls that frame the ancient city of Avignon. It takes five minutes and costs about a euro.
From the train station, you can walk everywhere, which is just my cup of tea. We walked into the city and down the big main street that cuts through the town. It wasn’t even 9am yet. (Did I mention we took the 7am train like crazy people?) The town was just waking up. We walked all the way through to the Palais des Papes and wandered around the hill behind it, admiring views of the river.
The Palais des Papes is a gargantuous old stone construction that has something to do with when all the popes were in Avignon, hence its name “Palace of the Popes.” It is really really big.
I probably should have learned more stuff while I was there, but I kept having flashbacks to church history class at my Catholic high school every time somebody said “schism.” (I did not do so well in that class.) I’ll be honest with you – my favorite part was the tower rooftop. There was a great view and lots of sunshine. All it was missing was a rooftop bar.
A few more photos of the Palais des Papes…
There. Shall we carry on?
Two hours of traipsing around a stone fortress really takes it out of you. It was time for lunch! I love lunch. And I REALLY loved lunch in Avignon. We ate at Maison Nani, which had the trifecta of great food, great people, and great prices – three of my favorite things! (Three of everyone’s favorite things, no?)
After lunch, the sun was up and Avignon was hot and hopping. There was a street festival going on, but I’m not sure what it was for. There were people dressed in period costumes (good LORD they must have been boiling in the hot sun), musicians parading down the street, people announcing into those big microphones, and a band singing Bruno Mars hits in the square in the center of town. It was festive and slightly disorganized which is how I like my festivals.
For the rest of the afternoon, we wandered the charming streets of Avignon. I love wandering on streets like these.
We bought some lovely watercolors here…
And as we followed the winding path to the famous Pont d’Avignon, we hit the shopping street! No, not the shopping street with H&M and Zara, the shopping street with postcards and lavender and yellow and blue linens. I don’t always love touristy areas like this, but I love these products you can only find in the south of France.
My favorite? Savon de Marseille. It smells amazing. I love to give it away, and I love to keep it. Instead of using it as soap, I put it in my drawers and closet so that my clothes smell good. (Tip: they should cost about 2 euros each.)
And finally, we ran across three lanes of traffic to see le Pont d’Avignon!
It’s actually called le Pont Saint-Bénézet, and it’s the subject of a famous French song that everyone knows. And by everyone, I mean French people. Don’t look at me, I don’t know it. In my head, it comes out like the 12 Days of Christmas, but I don’t think that’s right. But I do understand why someone would write a song about this bridge. It was one of my favorite parts of Avignon. That, and shopping for soap.
Avignon, thanks for a lovely day! Hope we’ll run into each other again one of these days.