THE PALACE OF THE POPES TERRACES
One of the most spectacular and charismatic cities of France is situated in the district of Vaucluse, in the very heart of Provence; AVIGNON. Protected by UNESCO and capital of Christianity in the Middle Ages, it is here that the most important 14th century Gothic palace in the world is located. It symbolizes the importance and influence that the church had on the western civilization at that time.
Come on in, step inside and have a look!
Enjoy the impressive views from the terraces of the Palace of the Popes, the city that became the capital of the Christian world; a historic place where seven popes lived, far away from and unaffected by the instabilities of Rome.
From the heights, you can enjoy this impressive city, known as the Second Rome. You can observe the lifeline that helped mould the city; the Rhone river, along with some other landmarks like the Avignon bridge and the Petit Palais. Of course, your visit is not limited to admiring the views of this beautiful historic city but you can also take a look inside the palace. The soul of this pulsating city.
The Palace of the Popes is open every day, all year round. You can enter from the square where it is located. The normal entrance fee is 12 euros, wirh a discount rate of 10 euros (for children between 8 and 17 years old, citizens over 60 years old, university students or students of fine arts or history, always with a valid ID), free of charge for children under 8.
Don´t think twice, it´s worth the climb to TOUCH THE SKY!
The city rests at the foot of this historic building, the most emblematic landmark of Avignon.
Place du Palais,
Let´s HIT the STOMACK of the city!
A wide range of culinary delights awaits you in this region of Provence.
Avignon; a city that will make your mouth water!
THE HALLES MARKET. More than 40 stalls where you can discover the best of this region.
But one thing that attracts attention is the queues of customers in front of the OYSTER stalls! A great place where you can enjoy a good dry white wine from the Rhone coast along with half a dozen oysters to delight your palate with the flavours of the deep sea. Several varieties of OYSTERS are available here.
Oysters! How many different types and kinds are available? Since when have we started eating them? And above all, how do we choose the best ones?... Remember that oysters have always aroused great appetite, they say that they represent luxury. You will be surprised to find out that it is not expensive luxurious food. A person could eat half a portion for 12 euros.
Due to its peculiar taste, some palates could adore it and others could hate it, with no middle ground in-between. In the time of the Roman Empire, oysters were 10 times more expensive than Lobsters.
Apparently, Voltaire used to eat 12 dozens of Claire´s fines. They are concave-shelled oysters, with a refined, velvety taste, rich in water and balanced in salt. No wonder he ate so many!
Did you know that 5 million tonnes of oysters are grown worldwide every year?
The most common is the flat oyster, known as the European oyster. It comes from Galicia, Spain. It is delicate, mild with mineral notes on the palate. The prices are quite high due to the limited availability of this product. Experts say that they are fine and elegant. They can´t survive long outside the water.
The concave oyster, known as the Japanese or Pacific oyster. It has more flesh, stronger taste, iodine and is grown in France and Italy.
The size and fleshiness of oysters are two important factors that are taken into account while determining its quality. In terms of weight, the 2 and 3 calibre ones are the best-sellers, as they have a good quality-price ratio. These market stalls serve top-quality oysters straight out of the sea. Whatever its size or origin, an oyster should always be well-closed. An open oyster is dead and must be disposed of. When opened, an oyster should be covered in its liquor A dry oyster and/or one with a suspicious smell should be thrown away immediately.
GOOD LUCK finding that pearl in your oyster!
Visit OSTRA AMELIE!! They sell some of the best oysters in the world.
They are open every day from 6 am to 2 pm, even on Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
Address 18 Place Pie. Avignon, Francia
WHERE and most importantly WHAT? In RUE DE LA REPUBLIQUE and many more
Around the PLACE DE L´HORLOGE where the Rue de la République starts is where you will find all these beautiful pedestrian streets full of interesting shops.
Pharmacies, footwear shops, cosmetics shops, SEPHORA perfumery, opticians, wine shops, gourmet shops, large networks and brands such as H & M, watch shops...
But what you will probably find most striking are all the products that revolve around the LAVENDER. Its scientific name is Lavandula, from lavare as it was used to wash wounds, not only physical but also emotional.
Now that we are in Provence, we have to talk about this precious plant. A medicinal plant that has soothing properties and is very beneficial for our body and soul. It comes from the Lamiaceae.
The medicinal properties of this plant make it an anti-inflammatory, cell-regenerating, sedative, so it is widely used for allergies, burns, for any kind of skincare.
LAVENDER is useful for many treatments, very beneficial for health: "headache, exhaustion,
insomnia, digestion, depression, nervous tension, asthma, stress, insect bites, muscular pain .....".
Perfumes, eau de cologne, essential oils, creams, soap, etc. are also produced using it as the key ingredient. You will find multiple shops that specialise in these products around here.
They are commonly used in three different ways:
Like PURE OIL, which is often used against insect and mosquito bites or sunburns.
As a MASSAGE OIL, for muscular pains by dissolving it in another base oil, such as almond oil.
As a RINSE for the HEAD, which is used for the elimination of lice. Sprinkle a few drops while combing your hair to keep these little bugs away.
They are irresistible! You sure will find some lavender product that suits your needs.
As you can see, there are many benefits to this plant, apart from its very special colour.
Spreading 3 drops of essential oil on a cloth and placing it under your pillow helps you to RELAX.
The tourist office is located at the end of rue de la Republique (41 cours Jean Jaures).
THE BRIDGE OF SAINT BÉNEZET
It is eye-catching! . Do you remember the song?
Sur le Pont d´Avignon on y danse, on y danse sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse, tout en rond…
For many French people, this song reminds them of their childhood, as they grew up with it.
This 12th century medieval bridge is, together with the Palace of the Popes, the most photographed location in the city. It used to have 22 arcades and now only 4 remain intact. The arcades seem to hold to the Rhone River as if to protect the city from its floods. This was the only bridge that crossed this river, the largest and most important river in Europe flowing through this part of the
Mediterranean and crossing important cities such as Lyon and Geneva.
Was it a local shepherd who received the order to build a bridge from the angels or was it a Benedictine monk who received a premonition from God communicating the need to build a bridge? this was passed on to the bishop of the city. It was the rich patrons who were going to get the funds to build it.
It took 8 years to build it, favouring the development of the city and that way many pilgrims and merchants came from other countries crossing the bridge, connecting both banks.
The impressive views from the top of the bridge are breathtaking and the 16th-century Romanesque chapel and the burial site of St. Nicholas, patron saint of the Rhone sailors, must not be forgotten.
You can see the walled city and the CATHEDRAL of Our Lady of DOMS which is located in the PAPAL PALACE. We can see the golden statue of the Virgin, which seems to greet us from the bell tower. 4 km of walls with 16 gates and 40 towers protecting the city, all included in this heritage site.
Did you know that when the popes crossed this bridge, they entered the chapel, prayed and left a florin as an offering?
First, it was built in wood and then in stone but then in 1660, they decided to abandon it leaving those 4 arcades behind.
And if you don´t want to go up, you can also click a great photo from below.
THE PHOTO WITH THE BRIDGE IS A MUST HAVE! We always take a group photo at the foot of the bridge.
The price: 4.50 euros (discount price for students and senior citizens 3.50 euros)
Children under 8 years of age, free of charge.
It is recommended to buy a combo ticket to visit the Palace of the Popes and the bridge.
DON´T FORGET TO SEND ME YOUR PHOTO!
This emblematic XVIII century site: AVIGNON´S SYNAGOGUE.
Right next to the Clock Square ("la Place de l´horloge") is Jerusalem Square, and already in the 8th century there was a synagogue in this Jewish quarter. Later on, this Jewish quarter and the synagogue were relocated by order of a bishop, so that the Jewish population would be confined to three doors: the upper door, the lower door and the Portalet.
This Synagogue was designed by Francois Franque in 1785, and it took 3 years to be built. In neoclassical style with hickory furniture, there are columns inside which serve as base for the dome.
Gradually it grew and several rooms were incorporated, a wedding room, study room, and the PURIFICATION BATHS, used by both men and women. This is a water container where they can immerse themselves and undergo this act prescribed by Judaism. It is now usually used more often by women after they´ve had their menstrual cycle. This place is a community room called MIKVE.
They are going to incorporate a bakery, a butcher shop...it is going to become the Jewish centre of the city. The interior is beautiful. A few years ago they discovered the oven to bake the traditional Jewish flatbread, with only flour and water.
This building bears witness to the presence of the Jewish community in this city. Since the 13th century, the Jewish quarter was located there, with the synagogue closed first by chains and later by doors to delimit the space for the Jews. The synagogue was rebuilt by Jean Baptiste in the middle of the 18th century. It was later occupied during the Revolution when all the furniture was taken away.
Then a fire damaged it in 1845.
In 1993, this synagogue was declared a historical monument of France. However, it turns out to be a building that goes unnoticed, strangely enough!
If you ring the bell you might be lucky, and a lady may open the side door to show you the building in 15 minutes, a place that commemorates and honours those who fell victims of the holocaust, as shown by a sign on it.
The city has had a Jewish community for over a thousand years.
Will you be willing to join us to DISCOVER 10 THEATER SPACES?
It is worth mentioning that the world´s largest stage is located in the city of Avignon.
This city´s Theatre Festival is the oldest and most famous in France and one of the most important in Europe. Every year, the cloisters, chapels, these ancient places of worship, gardens, museums.... are all used to provide stages for the performing arts.
This city boasts more than 300 days of sunshine, where more than 1500 plays are performed every year in July. You only have to find a good place from where you can watch these actors pass by, actting their play. I am talking about Rue de la Republique, which links the city wall with the Palace of the Popes, where actors parade around, trying to seduce the crowd by handing out their programmes, their leaflets, announcing their shows out loud, taking us back into the heart of the Renaissance. You can even find musical shows performed by just one actor.
The whole city prepares itself to receive those actors, producers, distributors and directors. The city becomes a real creative showcase, from the courtyards of the Palace to the garages and more unusual and unlikely places are used to portray these creative sessions.
Shows that take place at any time of the day, until after midnight. Here, in any place, such as the IN bar, you can meet well-known figures from all over Europe like the famous polish actor Krystian Lupa, reflecting the intellectual circles of Vienna. We may also get to see the young French-Norwegian director Jonathan Châtel, adapting a work by Strindberg, a Festival through which figures such as María Casares, Robert Wilson, Jeanne Moureau, Peter Brook, Philippe Noiret, or the unforgettable and much admired Pina Bausch have performed.
Oliver Py took charge in September 2013, after Jean Vilar, its founder, and he is making space for companies from Portugal and Greece. His words are very clear: "Avignon must become aware of Southern Europe, which is the Europe of culture, and not only focus on Northern Europe, which is the Europe of the banks. Europe without Greece is not Europe". Although it is easier for Py to receive companies coming from Germany, Holland or Belgium.
In the 19th century, a spectacular historical monument was built. The great Opera House located in the clock square dazzles us with its Greco-Roman style façade and two porticoes. The sculptures by Molière and Corneille preside over the Theatre. Note that the Grand Théâtre is located between two streets, Rue Molière and Rue Corneille, and just behind it is Rue Racine, another great French playwright from the 17th century.
So many classics, such as "King Lear", "Richard III", "Anthony and Cleopatra", have been staged in this Opera House, and it is not the only place where works of this magnitude are performed...texts by Marquis de Sade, writings by Christa Wolf are performed in the Hall of Honour of the Papal Palace. Many spaces are transformed to adapt to the needs of these visiting actors. Works such as "the idiots" by Lars Von Trier, which talks about contemporary Russia.
Many Spaniards attend this Festival too, like in the case of a co-production between Avignon and the Teatro de la Abadía in Madrid, that will show the play" Hacia la alegría " (Towards Happiness) starring Pedro Casablanc.
Avignon will never be a quiet city, as actors will always wake it up!
We owe this awakening to a young actor and theatre director who, in 1947, wanted to restore the city to its former glory. His "King Lear" that was staged in the Papal Palace caused a stir in the performing arts world. He wanted to revive the classical texts and bring them closer to people.
Theatre is a medium through which we can express our feelings, by using culture to speak out and express what is happening in the world.
"AN ACTOR CAN BE NO MORE THAN HIS SOUL," said the great master Philip Gaulier.
"Thank you JEAN VILAR, for supporting the THEATRE"
LIST OF AVIGNON FESTIVAL VENUES
HONORARY ROOM at the PAPAL PALACE. Place du Palais
OPERA GRAND AVIGNON. Place de l´Horloge
MAISON JEAN VILAR. 8 Rue de Mons
THEATRE DE L´OULLE, LAURETTE AVIGNON. Rue de la Plaisance
COMMUNE D´AVIGNON, 1 Rue Racine
THEATRE DES HALLES, Rue du Roi René.
LA PARENTHESE, 18 Rue des Études.
THEATRE DU CHENE NOIRE, 8 bis Rue Sainte-Catherine.
THEATRE DES BRUNES, 32 rue Thiers.
LITTLE UNKNOWN FACTS ABOUT THE PAPAL PALACE
One interesting fact about the city while walking through its streets is that it can remind us and transport us to the ambience of Provence and Tuscany. We cannot forget the fact that it´s in this city, in this Palace, where the Popes of Rome lived for 68 years, back in the 14th century, due to the political controversies and the uncertainties that were present in the Italian peninsula.
7 French popes, never before in history, 7 popes followed by ancient Gaul.
Philip the Handsome witnessed the coronation of Pope Clement V in the French city of Lyon. This pontiff, who did not go to Italy, moved the holy seat to the city of Avignon, thus establishing and creating the government of the church in this city. Four cathedrals could be placed within the dimensions of this fortress, church, palace, in this Gothic building, with an area of 15,000 square meters. Just by observing this monument, we can get an idea of the power that the popes and their pontifical court had, surrounded by luxury, and celebrating events. Any excuse was good enough to celebrate and throw a banquet full of all kinds of luxury.
Did you know that the banquets lasted more than 7 hours? The Pope counted the inventory before and after each feast in case any of the attendees stole any luxury items.
At a time when people ate with their hands, the story says that this pope, Clement V, was the first to use a fork, at least in France. Only he could do so, thereby showing the high degree of power he possessed in this hierarchy.
When they were elected they would ring a bell for 24 hours to announce the election of the new pope rather than produce white smoke.
THE BANANA TREE ROUTE
I recommend following the banana tree route to discover some of the secrets this city hides.
Let´s start with the Place de L´horloge. An essential stop. "THE CLOCK SQUARE", the central square of the city, where the Roman Court used to be held! This is where the city public baths used to be, one of the busiest places today.
Two great protagonists reside in this square: THE GREAT OPERA THEATRE and THE CITY COUNCIL. Both buildings are from the 19th century. The town hall with its clock and its wooden figures and an old carousel in the centre of the square.
Let´s keep looking for the banana trees. Let´s walk towards the PLACE CRILLON, where, under the shade of banana trees, terraces will appear resting at the foot of elegant old façades, like the oldest gallery in the city, Galerie Ducastel, in this beautiful little palace. This square is located across the Porte de l´Oulle. It is one of the entrance gates to the walled city. In this square, you can also find Theatre de l´Oulle with its little terrace, where you can have a drink before watching a play. One of the famous plays staged here was " The Imaginary Invalid " a comedy written by Molière. Did you know that Molière died while performing this play? That is why French actors are forbidden to wear green on stage, as it seems that it was the colour the author was wearing.... but the truth is that he was dressed in amaranth. Each country has its colour that is forbidden in theatre, the Spanish are forbidden to wear yellow, Italians are forbidden to wear purple and in England it is blue...
I recommend a stroll through these narrow streets, to reach the heart of the city.
A 20-minute tour: We will pass by Rue Mazan, Rue Joseph Vernet, Rue Saint Agricol, Place du Change, Rue Rouge, Rue de la Bonneterie which will take us to Rue des Teinturiers which is where I would like to get.
AND WHY HERE?
Did you know that opposite number 43 rue des Teinturiers, there are still WATER MILLS by the stream in the city?
Right in DYERS STREET, one of the most beautiful and pleasant pedestrian streets here. Tourists do not come here, as it is not in the centre, but I recommend you to walk a little bit because you will discover a very peculiar place. Back in the 18th century, this street that rests next to the stream, was already full of small businesses dedicated to the manufacture of silk and fabrics. The dyers used this small water channel to paint, wash and work on these fabrics. Today only this water mill remains, in the shade of these banana trees, blessed by the waters of the Sorgue. Now there are coffee terraces, small shops; reminders of that bygone era. It seems as though the banana trees represent the soul of each dyer.
"IDLE BLISS – THE SWEETNESS OF DOING NOTHING"
I recommend the Place Pie. One of the most beautiful and coolest squares in this peculiar and special city. With its terraces resting at the foot of these lively bars, we can see the character of the
Provencal people. A young, lively and culturally strong city of France. Here young people usually start winding up the nightlife with the opening of the market at 6 a.m., where they will surely have a good coffee without lacking a croissant or brioche.
This square has been witnessing the heartbeats of this historic city for over 70 years.
Let´s talk about this square which, founded by Jean Vilar in 1947, has not stopped growing since then, giving rise to the famous AVIGNON INTERNATIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL.
In July every year, more than 900 international companies come to present their shows in this special square, which is very lively both for those who live there as well as for those who come from abroad.
It is a place you cannot miss, as it is special in its own right, because of its diversity of colours, the mixture of accents, the many languages of those actors who come from all over the world to meet and show their art.
The Place Pie has been chosen as a shooting location for many films. it has been transformed over the centuries and has been dressed in many clothes to show its most creative side. It gets even better during the city´s Theatre Festival, when it´s filled with hundreds of posters like as if trying to show off the trust that artists and performers have placed in it.
In the past, before it was called PIE, there was a large mansion belonging to the dean of the University of Avignon. Although he was born Catholic, he became a reformer in the mid-sixteenth century and was killed for this reason, as he was considered a fanatic his house was destroyed and the Place Pie was created in honour of Pope Pius IV, who was in power at that time. In the centre of the square, there was a market where leather was processed.
From there we can see a 13th century medieval tower, the Tour Saint-Jean, annexed to a building that housed the headquarters of Les Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de Jerusalem, a Saint John´s brotherhood.
And now, surrounded by breweries, bars, restaurants and of course with the special central market Les Halles, this special place turns every night into one of the most active points of the city, that is why sometimes you can hear the typical expression of the Avionese "Sur Pie". (Shall we meet at Pie?)
Perhaps you would like to take a break there, in this vibrant cultural place!
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