Avignon is a treasure house of palaces, museums and meandering lanes in Provence in the South of France, surrounded by an old fortified wall that still protects it. That is one of the beauties of a walled town in Europe, not only did it protect the town from bandits and invaders during the Middle Ages, but in the 20th and 21st centuries it continued protecting these historic centers from modernization. Which means that the old town is beautifully preserved with large pedestrian zones, and yet at the same time filled with up-to-date shops and restaurants, a city providing comforts, convenience and entertainment that you expect to find in the sophisticated culture of France.
They built the largest Gothic palace in all of Europe, so it’s definitely something you must see when you come to Avignon, and also the little streets and pedestrian zones are certainly part of the charm, forming a large automobile-free zone, filled with shops and restaurants that will keep you busy. We’ll take you on a tour of the main highlights as well as explore the extensive pedestrian zone and do some shopping, providing maps and tips to help you get around.
As usual, it’s an entertaining and practical approach filled with great visuals and helpful descriptions. This is one of the most beautiful cities in France. It’s loaded with historic monuments, especially the great Palace of the Popes. In the 14th century the popes left the Vatican in Rome and relocated to Avignon, which transformed this city into one of the most powerful places in all of Europe at the time. The popes remained here for nearly 100 years and this was the Golden Period of the city when the great palaces were built in great mansions and the wall was constructed all the way around the town to protect the popes.
Begin your orientation of Avignon, with a look at the two main squares in the center of town, the Place de l’Horloge, surrounded by cafes and bistros and the adjacent Place du Palais containing the city’s most important and historic structure, the Palace of the Popes. Along with the Pope’s Palace and those two central plazas, the other main sites to see are the many pedestrian lanes lined with shops and historic structures and the main street, the Rue de la République, along with the medieval wall that still goes around most of this historic center.