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  • Avignon, France
    Palace of the Popes


Famous for its nursery rhyme, medieval bridge, and brooding Palace of the Popes, contemporary Avignon bustles and prospers behind its mighty walls. For nearly 100 years Avignon was the capital of Christendom, home to seven popes. During this time, it grew from a quiet village into a thriving city. Today, with its large student population and fashionable shops, Avignon is an intriguing blend of medieval history, youthful energy, and urban sophistication. Street performers entertain the international throngs who fill Avignon's ubiquitous cafés and trendy boutiques. Clean, lively, and popular with tourists, Avignon is more impressive for its outdoor ambience than for its museums and monuments.

At a Glance

▲▲ Jardin du Rochers des Doms Park and ramparts at the hilltop where Avignon was first settled, with great views of the Rhône River Valley and the famous broken bridge.

▲▲ St. Bénezet Bridge The "Pont d'Avignon" of nursery-rhyme fame, once connecting the pope's territory to France.

▲▲ Scenic Squares Numerous hide-and-seek squares ideal for postcard-writing and people-watching — pick your favorite: Place des Corps-Saints, Place St. Pierre, Place des Châtaignes (adjacent to Place St. Pierre), Place Crillon, Place St. Didier, and the big Place Pie.

▲▲ Palace of the Popes Fourteenth-century Gothic palace built by the popes who made Avignon their home.

▲ Tower of Philip the Fair Massive tower across St. Bénezet Bridge, featuring the best view over Avignon and the Rhône basin.

Petit Palais Museum "Little palace" displaying the Church's collection of medieval Italian painting and sculpture.

Fondation Angladon-Dubrujeaud Museum with a small but enjoyable Post-Impressionist collection, including art by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Daumier, Degas, and Picasso.

Calvet Museum Fine-arts museum with a good collection and English audioguide.