Provence isn’t the first place you think of when planning a visit to Lyon, but the fast trains are so good that it is only about an hour to Avignon. And being the over-scheduler that I am I thought why not?! It was going to be a really long day, leaving at 7 and not getting back until 10pm but I had planned to see a lot to make the day worth it.
Sunrise on the Rhone was stunning on my walk to the train station.
Avignon has a new TGV station for the fast trains to arrive at a few kms from the city, but has a regular train from there direct to the city, making it an easy trip. From the city station it is a short walk to the historic centre.
My first aim was to visit the Palais des Papes. The Palais was home for a time to the seat of the Pope in the 14th century. It is a massive medieval complex and one of the main attractions in Avignon. Most of the furnishings of the building are long gone, but the audio guide and accompanying tablet with interactive reconstructions give a good idea of life within the Palais. There is a spectacular view from the roof.
The building seemed to be hosting a rose growers conference at the time of my visit.
My next stop was the Pont d’Avignon, a medieval stone bridge with its origins in the 12th century. Originally having 22 arches, only four survive. It is a nice walk to the bridge through the public gardens. A ticket is required to walk out on the bridge and can be purchased as a combined ticket with entry to the Palais.
In the latter part of the morning I wandered back towards the town centre and found some lunch, croque monsieur, while waiting for my afternoon plans to begin, which I will put in a separate post.
I really only just touched on Avignon in this morning visit, you could probably spend much more time there and use it as a base to explore the region.