French holiday in Avignon
To escape from a cold and gray Finnish April towards a sunny and colorful French one was vitally important. I was hunger to see greens and blooms and to feel the sun on my skin. I felt absolutely happy just from the moment we got on the train from Paris to Avignon. Three hours of looking out of the window with excitement because of blue sky, yellow fields, grazing cows and sheep… I want to share some moments of our trip with you and make you feel the atmosphere of the medieval French city named Avignon.
· Avignon is a commune in France’s Provence region on the left bank of the Rhône river.
· Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its medieval ramparts.
· The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1377 during which seven successive popes resided in Avignon, making this Provençal town the centre of the Roman Catholic world for that period of time.
· The Palais des Papes (The Popes’ Palace), “Pont d’Avignon” (the Saint-Benezet brigde) and the ramparts constitute an exceptional complex of monuments listed by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.
· Avignon is now best known for its annual arts festival, the largest in France, which draws thousands of visitors for several weeks in July.
The reason we came to Avignon, maybe not one of the most obvious of travel destinations, is because my husband was attending a physics conference there, that by the way was held right inside The Popes’ Palace, the largest Gothic palace ever built!
We stayed in a small hotel in one of the narrow central streets close to Place des Châtaignes.
Our mornings started with a delicious breakfast in the closest bakery managed by a very kind french lady. After a cup of tea or coffee and fresh pastries we walked together towards The Popes’ Palace.
At 9 a.m. my husband started the conference and I continued the morning walking around the historical part of the city, exploring small streets and hidden squares.
At 13 p.m. we met in the main square and went for a lunch together. One of our favorite place both for lunch and dinner became the restaurant La Manutention. Situated in a small courtyard right beneath one of the palace tower, this small restaurant is a beautiful place to try southern French cuisine in a wonderful atmosphere created by huge battered mirrors on the walls and bare brickwork.
After lunch and a quick rest in the room I went out for another city walk, usually around one of the main shopping streets: Rue de la République, Rue Joseph Vernet, Rue de la Petite Fusterie. I was impressed by the number of great shops, amazing boutiques and concept stores you can find in Avignon. The greatest discovery of my walking around was the french brand Des petits hauts. This was love at first sight! I got SO inspired by their style and products that suddenly a necklace idea popped up in my head! (I will share more about it soon:)
Another concept clothing & lifestyle store that caught my attention was Beaucoup Store.
My favorite part of the day – some french sweets or ice cream at around 16 p.m.
When I wasn’t window shopping I was spending the afternoon in the beautiful garden behind the Palais des Papes: Rocher des Doms. Situated on a massive hill above the city, the garden gives you a chance to discover the surroundings and see the famous bridge of Avignon which leads only halfway over the river Rhône.
The last evening we had a conference dinner in a place called The Espace Jeanne Laurent, located in the Rocher des Doms gardens. The dinner hall with its walls of exposed stone and a wide panoramic balcony was just the best imaginable place to spend our last evening in Avignon.