AVIGNON – www.avignon-tourisme.com
While a famous song has people dancing on the bridge of Avignon, thousands upon thousands boogie to the beat all over town, especially when the Festival d’Avignon, one the largest arts festivals in France, picks up its tune every July. All this in a city that was, in the 14th century, the somber seat of papal power and produced the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palais des Papes, the greatest Gothic palace in Europe. In keeping with its ecclesiastical heritage, Avignon is also capital of its regional wines, some of notable vintage, and a thriving commercial center with many excellent restaurants.
The bridge of Avignon really is the one referred to in the famous children's song.
Palais des Papes: the largest Gothic palace in Europe, former papal residence during the 14th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Musée Calvet: a fine arts collection from the 15th to 20th centuries, set in a magnificent 18th-century mansion
daube avignonaise: traditional lamb stew for which the meat is marinated in white wine
Côtes-du-Rhône wines: Avignon is the capital of this appellation, which includes famous vintages like Châteauneuf du Pape
Mireille Mathieu: a singer who has recorded more than 1,200 songs and sold 150 million albums worldwide
Also in the Area
Orange: a town with particularly notable UNESCO World Heritage-listed Roman ruins (the theater is the best preserved in Europe) and an excellent art and history museum
Château des Baux de Provence: a fortified 10th-century castle that was also home of the most famous minstrels and troubadours of the day
Access from Paris
by road: about 6 h 45 min (435 miles) via A6 and A7 autoroute du Soleil
by train: about 2 h 40 min by TGV from the Gare de Lyon
by plane: 1 h 15 min, landing in Marseille-Provence Airport; then 30 min by train
For more about what to see and do in and around Avignon, including on the “On the Sunshine Route" itinerary, visit www.topfrenchcitybreaks.com