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Avignon is the city of The Popes Palace, and the bridge made famous by the popular song "Sur le Pont D'Avignon".

How to get there:

By Train: Avignon is on the TGV network. From Paris, the journey takes between 2h 40min and 3h. The round trip ticket (aller-retour) is between 59-69 Euros, depending on the train.
If you are already on the French Riviera, you can take the TGV from Nice or Antibes. From Antibes, the journey will take around 3h 25 min, and the round-trip ticket is 37 Euros.
Form the TGV Station (Gare TGV), take the Avignon City shuttle bus, running every 15 min. It takes 10 min to get to the centre of Avignon.
If you drive: Take your trusted GPS, preloaded with the Map of Europe.

In the 12th Century, Avignon was already an important trading center, due exactly to the famous Saint-Bénezet bridge, the only one crossing the southern Rhone at the time.

Avignon: The Popes Palace
Avignon: Palais des Papes (The Popes Palace)

Avignon reached the peak of its prosperity with the arrival of the Popes in the 14th Century.
In less then twenty years, between 1335-1352, two Popes, Benedict XII and Clement VI built the "Palais des Papes" (The Popes Palace), which is the largest Gothic Palace ever built, roughly the equivalent of four Gothic Cathedrals! Somptuous palace and medieval fortress in the same time, it is a symbol of the spiritual, and political power of the Papality.

Despite most of the halls being empty, the rich decoration of the Papal private apartments offers the visitor the chance to imagine how the Palace was looking in the 14th Century. Frescoes of inestimable value, the work of French and Italian masters, can still be seen. 

The most important are the works of masters like Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti (Chapelle St-Jean, Chapelle St-Martial).

Le Pont D'Avignon
Avignon: Saint-Bénezet Bridge

Le Pont D'Avignon: Saint-Bénezet Bridge

The famous bridge was built in the 12th Century, and from the very beginning it had a huge importance, being the only bridge crossing the southern Rhone.
The bridge was 920 m long, and it originally had 22 arches. It was repeatedly damaged by floods and wars, and rebuilt with great efforts each time, until it was abandoned in the 17th Century.
And, yes, as my little one put it: "Daddy, this is a bridge with a song!"

The song "Sur le Pont D'Avignon", that made the bridge famous all over the world, was actually composed in the 19th Century.
As the bridge was only 4 meters wide, it was not possible to dance "round and round" on it. It is more likely that actually the dance could take place under the bridge, where a popular inn was established on a small island (Ile de la Barthelasse), at the foot of one of the arches.

Le Musée du Petit Palais

If you have time, this is a rewarding experience, as the Museum is hosting over three hundreds paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Museum is located on the northern side of The Popes Palace Square, and was built in the second decade of the 14th Century.

Collegiale Saint-Didier

Francesco Laurana-The Bearing of The Cross
Francesco Laurana-The Bearing of The Cross
The Church of Saint-Didier was built between 1356 and 1359. Murals from the end of the 14th Century can been seen in the first northern chapel. They are the works of itinerant Italian artists, probably from Tuscany.

As you enter the church, on the right side you will see the superb "The Bearing of the Cross", sculpted by Francesco Laurana for King René in 1478.

You might have already noticed the copy of it, while visiting "The Popes Palace". The work belonged initially to the Church of Célestins, but it was relocated due to the confiscations during the French Revolution.


For more information on Avignon, go to the Tourist Office:

Tourist Office of Avignon
41, cours Jean Jaurès
Phone: +33 (0)4 32 74 32 74
Fax: +33 (0)4 90 82 95 03

Enjoy your vacation!

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