Avignon, France

This past weekend a few of us took a short weekend trip to the center of Avignon, which is a little less than two hours from Toulon.

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After finding our hostel and having a quick lunch, we watched a bit of the Chinese New Year celebration before heading to the Palais des Papes.

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Avignon is known as the City of Popes, and the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) is one of the largest as well as most important Gothic buildings in Europe (it is the size of four cathedrals!) In fact, this palace was the home of six popes during the 14th century. Starting in 1305, Pope Clement V, who was French, established his Papal court in Poitiers. However, he then migrated to Avignon in 1309, where headquarters remained for the next 68 years. Then, Pope Gregory XI moved the headquarters back to Rome. Construction of the Palace began in 1335 with Pope Benedict XII and then his successor Pope Clement VI, and was amazingly finished in less than 20 years.

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During our visit, we also promenaded around the Jardin du Rocher des Doms, located just behind the palace. It is within these gardens where one can capture the most stunning views of the city, Le Rhône, and of course the famous Pont d’Avignon.

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Le Pont St-Benezet (Le Pont d’Avignon) is the oldest structure built on Le Rhône in the twelfth century. It is also one of the most well-known attractions in Avignon. Legend has it that in 1177, a young shepherd named Benezet came down from Ardeche. He claimed to have been sent by God to build a bridge in Avignon. In order to prove himself, Benezet did the impossible– loaded a huge, heavy stone onto his shoulder and into Le Rhône, laying foundation for the bridge. The bridge was completed and crossed for the first time in 1184, and then again destroyed in 1226. Although repaired, Louis XIV, who constructed Versailles, was one of the last people to cross before it again collapsed during the seventeenth century. The bridge is most famous due to a song written by Pierre Certon, entitled Sur Le Pont d’Avignon.

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond

On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance, we all dance
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance together in a circle

Of course we also danced on the bridge.

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Bisous,

Dana

6 thoughts on “Avignon, France

  1. I love the little history of Avignon! When I went to Avignon it was to see Coeur de Pirate with some friends. I was shocked at how beige it was. The whole town seemed to be the same color. It was very strange. But an interesting trip.

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