Few people realize that the pope's palace was relocated to France during the Middle Ages. In lovely Avignon, visitor's can still experience the former seat of the papacy in this endlessly-charming southern city.
The Pope's Palace, first built in the 1300s, is the size of four normal French cathedrals and is the largest gothic palace in Europe. This amazing and expansive structure attracts the hoardes, and several cafÃ©s are situated nearby.
The Pope's Palace is not the only reason to visit Avignon. The illustrious additions for the now-defunct papal seat set the ground work for a glorious Mediterannean city.
Narrow alleys open onto expansive plazas, there are enchanting pedestrian shopping zones and there are fabulous restaurants. As the almost-constant sunshine warms you, wander the streets, popping into shops, stopping for a coffee or perusing art sold by street vendors.
It is also situated at a crucial French rail hub, and visitors can zip to Nice or Paris in a mere three or four hours. It is near many wonderful destinations, including Arles, Aix-en-Provence and Orange. If you plan to visit both the Languedoc and Provence, this makes an ideal home base.
Getting to Avignon
If you will arrive by rail, most major French rail lines lead or connect to Avignon in some manner. From Paris, the TGV speed train takes 3.5 hours. If you are flying, odds are more likely you will fly into nearby Marseille, although there is a small Avignon airport.
Top Avignon Attractions
Obviously, the Pope's Palace is a must-see. While you visit, also be sure to take a cruise on the Rhone River. Snatch up ProvenÃ§al souvenirs. Le MusÃ©e Angladon features a wonderful collection of art works by masters like Van Gogh, Picasso and Degas. To truly get into the spirit of things, one must also sample "papalines," a delicious treat consisting of chocolate and liquor.
Booking options and searching for cheapest rates
- There is a splendid mix of accommodations available in Avignon. For luxury, stay at a suite at the four-star Avignon Grand Hotel. Search for the lowest rates!
- For true style, Hotel d'Europe repeatedly receives accolades from major travel magazines and guidebooks. The hotel is a converted 16th century mansion. Search for the lowest rates!
- On a tight budget, there are a few campgrounds in and around Avignon. Camping du Pont d'Avignon is a good choice, providing all the basic conveniences and nice extras like a swimming pool. Best of all, a person and a tent can stay for as little as 7 euros (in the low season).
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