Our final stop was at Marseille, the Gateway to the beautiful Provence region. We customised our private tour to drive us to Avignon and L ‘Isle Sur La Sorgue along the way back. The day was well spent and our drive through idyllic landscapes was enthralling.
Built in less then 20 years starting in 1335, the Popes’ Palace is the amalgamation of two palaces built by two popes: Benedict XII, who built the Old Palace to the east and north, and his successor Clement VI who built the New Palace to the south and west.
The Palace organizes cultural events, theme tours, exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. It also houses within its walls the Musée de l’Oeuvre.
A good hour is needed to discover the more than 25 rooms open to the public: the ceremonial halls, the courtroom, the consistory, the chapels with their magnificent frescoes by the famous painter Matteo Giovanetti and the popes’ private apartments.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, the Popes’ Palace is one of the most visited monuments in France with 650,000 visitors per year. A true symbol of the influence of Western Christianity in the 14th century, this masterpiece of a monument is the largest medieval fortress and biggest gothic palace of Europe.
A Unesco World Heritage Site, the Palais Des Papes is one of the largest medieval Gothic buildings in Europe, and was home to 9 successive Popes throughout the 14th century. Our guide Isabella enthusiastically shared the history and intrigues as we explored its halls and apartments. As we ventured the roof top, we saw another palace across the Rhone River. France was intimidated with Avignon’s wealth and power that they felt compelled to match it with a grand palace that sadly didn’t measure up to its magnificence.
Food tripping in Avignon. Lunch in some random restaurant was Michelin Worthy – we thought. We feasted on escargot cassoulet, steak entrecote, foie gras terrine, baked salmon and duck confit. Then we sampled some local delicacies in Marche Les Halles. Capping it off with their signature chocolate bonbons “las papalines” with savoury liquor zest inside.
For a close-up look at Avignon life, we meandered the town’s backstreets — home to pastry shops, earthy cafés and galleries, and cobbled lanes lined with trees and streams. Window shopping along Rue De la Republique was dreamy until it was time to meet our driver by Place De L’Horloge – Avignon’s city center.
A quick coffee stop by L Isle Sur La Sorgue, this “Venice of Provence”. The Sorgue River flows through, past, in and around town, in its many natural beds and canals. Even without gondolas, water adds beauty and character to this quaint town also known for its large concentration of antique stores and grand annual flea markets.