Here I am finally with a very belated
conclusion to my Tour de la France en cinq jours series – disgustingly belated,
in fact, when you consider the fact that my trip actually happened in February
and here we are in MAY. MAY. Someone give me a kick up the behind! It was
actually my booking ANOTHER trip to France that prompted me to get up to date
with this trip – so thank my spontaneity for this little city guide!
The final part of my trip was the longest stretch
of my stay in France – a visit to the beautiful city of Avignon, in the South
of France, to visit a friend of mine that I met whilst living in Strasbourg. His
lovely girlfriend Blakley was ever so hospitable and put me up for two nights
in her lovely little studio, which made life (and the trip) so much easier! I’ve
been to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille before, cities that are relatively close
to Avignon so I kind of knew what to expect in terms of architecture and
Avignon is a lovely little place – and it
really is little. Joe met me from the train station and gave me a quick whistle
stop tour of the city as we walked back to Blakley’s apartment, and it became
quickly apparent that it wouldn’t take long to see all of the main tourist
attractions. I dropped off my bags and freshened up before Joe and I wandered
around the main city square in search of somewhere to get dinner. We found a
lovely little Italian restaurant and ordered one of the tastiest pizzas that I’ve
ever eaten in France (and this is saying a lot; the French have a very
unnecessary obsession with putting emmental on their
pizzas…). We accompanied pizza with wine and then went off to one of the
squares to meet some of Joe’s friends for cocktails and frites.
The next day, we got up relatively early to
tackle all of the amazing sites that Avignon has to offer. One of my customers
at work, a fellow Francophone, advised that Avignon has the most amazing Papal
palace and told me about how the Pope, at one point in history, chose Avignon
to relocate to away from the Vatican City. I absolutely love history so this
was something that I definitely wanted to check out. However, breakfast took
precedence so we wandered around the food markets in the Centre Ville and
ordered Pain au chocolat to go.
The Papal Palace was absolutely phenomenal to visit.
I was quite lucky to visit Avignon on a very sunny day- the temperature actually
surpassed 20 degrees in February!- so wandering around meant being able to tan
a little bit. All good, as far as I’m concerned. We didn’t go inside the Papal
Palace but seeing it from the outside was more than enough for me- the palace
is surrounded by the most beautiful grounds (where we later relaxed with books
and snacks)- and the building itself is both colossal and magnificent to look
at. We were also able to see the Pont d’Avignon (as made famous in the song!),
a bridge that crosses halfway across the river Rhône. It’s made up of four
arches, the rest of which were destroyed during the Crusades. If you’re
interested in history like me, this is a pretty cool thing to go and have a
look at. We decided at this point that lunch was a good idea and let’s be
honest- you can’t go to France and not eat croque monsieur at least once, can you?
I ordered a normal croque monsieur, and Joe went for an Alsacien variation.
Neither of us really want to let go of our Alsacien background! Joe then showed
me around the University of Avignon, including sneaking me into their vast
library, before we felt the need to go and get MORE food. This time crêpes were on the menu and my word, they were
delicious. I spent the rest of my time in Avignon hanging out with Joe’s lovely
friends over even more food; Blakley and his friend Hattie put together the
nicest little spread of food. I felt incredibly welcomed into their group and
couldn’t have spent time with a nicer group of people.
Avignon was a treat to visit- it wasn’t the
usual city that I’m used to visiting in France but it has its charms and was
definitely worth my time in getting there. It was lovely to catch up with an
old friend and get a taste of a new culture, all at once. Thank you to Joe and
Blakley for the amazing hospitality- you two are lovely and the favour will
definitely be returned when you visit Liverpool!
Have you ever visited this part of the South of France?
If you want to check out the rest of my trip: