Our next Airbnb would be our home for our last two weeks in the south of France. It had three bedrooms (one was a toy room where we set up Adeline’s travel crib) and plenty of toys for the kids to play with on our days when we would not be out exploring.
We liked the idea of staying in Avignon because of how central it is to the Provence area. From our airbnb, everything we visited was less than an hour and a half away.
Palais des Papes
It wasn’t until we were looking into visiting the South of France that I learned the Pope once resided in Avignon. In fact, nine Popes called Avignon home from 1309 – 1403 (the last 40ish years were during a split in the Catholic church where there were actually two Popes – one in Avignon and one back in Italy).
During the French Revolution, the palace was seized and sacked by revolutionary forces. During Napoleon’s time, it was used as military barracks. Unfortunately, both of these instances brought about much damage and while it has been in constant restoration since the early 1900’s, much is still missing or gone.
We happened to be visiting close to lunchtime, so our littlest had some trouble walking through the palace, but our 3 year old did great! It’s not stroller friendly so we had both kids mostly walk (or held at times).
My favorite things that we saw in the palace was the painted room of the Pope’s bedroom (Unfortunately, no photos were allowed of the painted rooms, but it’s the one that is all swirly with grapevines) and the painting of Queen Joan of Naples (she sold the city of Avignon to the Pope in 1348).
Right next to the Papal Palace is the medieval bridge, Pont Saint-Bénézet. We did a quick visit after finishing up at the palace. While I think there was a little museum one could look through, we just got the audio tour and walked out onto the bridge.
The bridge was built between 1177 and 1185 and went across the Rhone river. Legend has it that Saint Benezet was told by the voice of Jesus to build a bridge across the river. People ridiculed him at first, until he miraculously lifted a huge block of stone.
It was a nice walk across the bridge and there was a pretty view at the end. It only took maybe 30 minutes to see everything and then we were off to lunch.
While we were staying in Avignon, we also had the chance to go into the main part of the city to meet up with a friend. It was nice to walk around and was a beautiful city.
Overall, Avignon was a good. central location for us that we also enjoyed exploring when we had the opportunity.