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18th-century rotunda in the St. John Cloister

Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-lés-Avignon, France

But for the religious requirement and the communal living, this lovely monastery tucked away in quiet Villeneuve-lés-Avignon would have been an appealing place to call home. 13th-century village Villeneuve-lés-Avignon is overshadowed by neighboring Avignon, but its second-rate status ensures quiet streets and a slow pace. In the 14th century, Pope Innocent VI donated some land […]

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Window view

Fort St-André, Villeneuve-lés-Avignon, France

This sprawling 14th-century fort sits high on a mountaintop across the river from Avignon. I was curious to check it out since its grandness is visible from many surrounding points. Up close, it’s just as massive and solid as it appears from afar. In the 13th century, Fort St-André was built on Mount Andaon on […]

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Rue des Teinturiers, Avignon, France

Rue des Teinturiers is a quaint area in Avignon’s old city center (so this is like doubling up in the “charming” category). Translated, this is the street of dyers. Thanks to the man-made canals that supply pristine water from the Vaucluse River, the neighborhood was once the center of Provence’s textile industry. In the 15th […]

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Avignon Monnaie

Hôtel des Monnaies, Avignon, France

Isn’t this magnificent? The extravagant façade of this Baroque building caught my eye. Angels, lions, eagles, fruit garlands, a papal coat of arms and dragons all get space. In the 17th century, this was Avignon’s mint. Today the building houses a music conservatory.

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Museum's exterior

Musée Angladon, Avignon, France

What’s better than a house museum? A house museum that doubles as an art museum. Musée Angladon houses the art collection of couturier Jacques Doucet. Though he never occupied the building, Hôtel de Massilian (named after the family that occupied it in the 18th century), his descendent who generously donated and funded the museum did. […]

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The comfortable hotel room

Hôtel de l’Horlage, Avignon, France

Avignon is full of independent hotels so we took a chance and picked one off one of the main squares, Hôtel de l’Horlage. Though we usually shy away from such central locations, equating them with tour groups and sub-par food, Avignon is so small that to be away from the scrum would mean stuck outside […]

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Cathédral Notre Dame des Doms d’Avignon, Avignon, France

It makes sense that a city that the pope once called home would have a 4.5-ton gilded Virgin Mary looming over it. Avignon’s Cathédrale Notre Dame des Doms likely existed as early as the 4th century, but the structure we see today was built in phases from the 12th century. During the French Revolution, the […]

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Avignon Man Tower

Man on a Clock Tower

This was the view from my hotel room’s balcony. Heights don’t bother me, but I’m not sure I’d want this job!

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Some of the popes who ruled here

Le Palais des Papes, Avignon, France

Europe’s largest Gothic palace was built in the 14th century when Pope Clement V fled politically tumultuous Rome for peaceful Avignon. Along with the papal relocation came, of course, that of the center of the Catholic world. It was quite a score for little Avignon! The town grew quickly around the massive palace, whose size […]

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Vertical garden at Les Halles

Avignon, France

Approaching Avignon, one of Provence’s main cities, I felt like a displaced medieval warrior. Though I was in a modern car on an equally modern four-lane road, the only view I had was of 14th-century stone ramparts fully encircling the city, high enough to conceal all but the very tops of the requisite medieval cluster: […]

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