Two Fabulous Days in Avignon, France

| October 2, 2011
avignon cathedral

Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon

Today’s feature photo is of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon, or Avignon Cathedral. The interior of the cathedral that you see above is the tallest structure you see in the photo below. The one with the gold statue on top. I was taken by the ornate decoration on the balcony and the light reflecting in the dome. I love bringing these photos back home to explore. It is impossible to memorize every detail during a brief visit. But with the advancements in digital photography, and the high resolution that has come with them, I can explore the photograph like a treasure map to my heart’s content. These photos require multiple long exposures due to the low level of ambient light in the space and the extremes between dark and light created by the windows.

The Avignon Cathedral is part of the Palais des Papes. Avignon was the home of the popes in 1309 when they fled the violent chaos of Rome. The Palais was built between 1335 and 1364 on a natural rocky outcrop at the northern edge of Avignon, overlooking the river Rhône. Donna and I toured the enormous structure during our two-night stay in the old city. One of the nights, we had dinner on the square facing the Palais. The night air was comfortably warm and ambiance could not be beat with the tastefully lit Palais before us and the tinkling of dishes among vibrant conversation emanating from the tables around us.

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Pont Saint-Bénezet leading to Avignon, France at Sunset

We stayed in the city center at a lovely hotel called Hotel d’Europe. The picture of the hotel below is somewhat deceiving. The 16th century residence is much larger than it appears, complete with a quaint courtyard and 41 nicely appointed rooms among connected buildings. Over the course of the 19th century, various personalities have stayed here—Queen Astrid of Spain in 1832, Victor Hugo in 1839, as well as Charles Dickens. Our biggest feat was to try and figure our what to do with our car. Believe it or not, this is a street that sees a fair amount of traffic. In classic Provencal style, I parked on the sidewalk giving at least two inches for the other cars to get by. Once we checked-in, a nice valet whisked the car away to a parking garage about two blocks away.

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The Hotel d’Europe in old Avignon, France

Avignon is vibrant, not only due the level of tourism but also due to the local university. There are an endless supply of shops to explore and restaurants to try. Our food recommendations came from the front desk at the hotel, which were very good. We try to eat at less touristy places when possible and generally turn a blind eye to expense. I have learned to not sweat the budget while traveling in Europe. We just save up before and go and have a good time. It’s funny because it seems that, given our traveling style, a week in Europe runs about $3500 excluding air. We always get air for free with my frequent flyer miles. You can obviously get by on less but, for us, this has become a pretty good rule of thumb.

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Herbs de provence at a shop in Avignon, France

I think Avignon is a great stop during an adventure in Provence. In my view, two full days is enough. After that, do like we did and make your way to a quiet hilltop village for a few days. Everything you will want to see is pretty close to each other, which makes it easy to stay in a couple of places over a five-day period.

I will end this post with a reminder that some of the buildings in Europe are very old. I am sure you all knew that already but nothing makes it more real than walking around a corner in Avignon to find a refined German road car crushed by a building overhang. I am sure everything will look as good as new after a quick call to their insurance agent!

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An Audi crushed by a fallen building overhang in Avignon, France

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Category: France, Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. AutumnLeaves says:

    Oh my! Truly a shame! (Sorry for not commenting earlier, Lee. For some reason, Blogger isn’t updating the blog roll on my blog with the latest posts until two days later!)

  2. Lol. This is another reason to stay away from old buildings. Poor Audi. Hope it was insured. 😉