Avignon was beautiful! I was a little nervous it would be raining when we got there but it was only a little cool.
Two of us went to dinner at the square at the end of Rue de Republique. We were so hungry, the food was delicious! We walked around inside the city walls a bit after dinner to explore the city but went to bed soon after because we hadn’t even arrived until 9:30 Thursday night. Friday, as soon as our friends got in we grabbed lunch at another one of the many cafes in the square.
Avignon is famous for two things: the Palace of the Popes and the “Pont d’Avignon.” The palace is where many popes have lived, especially while there were two popes. We didn’t end up going inside because there isn’t much to see, but it was stunning and grand from the outside.
Next to the Palace of the Popes is a Notre Dame Cathedral – Our Lady of the Doms. It was beautiful and very peaceful inside because it isn’t a mass tourist spot. There are some beautiful gardens to the side of the church that give a beautiful view of the Rhone River and the surrounding towns.
We made sure to take our time at Le Pont d’Avignon because I have fond memories of the song named after it. I vividly remember singing “Sur le Pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse, l’on y danse …” during 10th-grade French class in Pomfret, Connecticut. I made sure to take lots of pictures to show my former teacher. It was a lot of fun to learn the history of the bridge and of the song.
We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the local flavor through baguettes, wine, cheese and the amazing views Avignon has to offer. We found a karaoke bar later in the evening and had a lot of fun belting out American hits like Elton John’s “Our Song.”
Saturday we took a 20-minute train ride to the city of Arles. We had 6 hours to spend but quickly discovered there is not a whole lot to do there! We did enjoy the time we had there and saw some amazing sights.
The Roman Amphiteatre of Arles (almost as big as Rome’s coliseum!) was unbelievable! It was built around 90 A.D. so people could watch gladiators or animal fights. They still use it to this day for bullfighting, but it was neat to see pictures of what it used to look like when it was first built.
Van Gogh spent a lot of time in Arles, and many of his works were painted there. They have a museum that we went to that was a re-creation of Van Gogh’s painting. Although it wasn’t the original, it was cool to see and impressive how much it looked like the painting. There was a beautiful old basilica named Saint Trophime we were able to see.
We spent more of the afternoon sitting at a cafe at the Place du Forum. The Place du Forum is where Van Gogh’s cafe was where he painted. It’s called Cafe Van Gogh today but it used to be called Le Cafe La Nuit. It was cool to see at least 3 places where Van Gogh painted (the bedroom, the cafe and the coliseum) and see how realistic they were.
The trip to Avignon was a lot of fun and a great way to see the South of France without going all the way to the beach. I am glad to be back in Paris, where it’s beginning to feel a bit like home …