Avignon: Palais des Papes & Walking the City Walls

Tuesday October 18, 2022

Avignon, France

Today started with a trip to the market hall and grocery store. The market was interesting and we bought delicious bread, some nice apples and carrots, and I got some lambs lettuce while Sidney and Sonya bought some cheese and quiche. At the grocery store I got my carrot salad, which was delicious!

Today we toured Avignon, in the heart of Provence, France. We started with the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace), a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s huge. It was built in the 14th century and is about 150,000 square feet in size (three times the size of the White House and the largest Gothic building in the world!). The fireplaces were huge…one room, the upper kitchen was basically a giant fireplace with an opening above in the ceiling acting as the chimney. There is a garden, massive rooms where ceremonies took place, and a treasury where money collected, deeds and other valuables were stored, some of it underneath the floor. There was a garden for vegetables and fruits and also ornamentation behind walls and protected by guards. When it was time to elect a new pope, walls were opened up to allow guests access to the large rooms used for dining and hosting the thousands of guests.

After viewing the palace and lunch, we walked out to the Pont d’Avignon, a bridge over the Rhone River, though only part of it remains.

Avignon is surrounded by walls, it’s a completely walled city, but compact. We walked around about 2/3 of the wall, which is impressive. It’s 4.3 kilometers around, and is about 8 meters (26 feet or so) high, with 35 high towers and 50 intermediate towers. It used to have a moat four meters deep surrounding it and the seven city walls were closed at night.

When we left the perimeter of the town we walked into the old town, full of narrow streets, some of which I could touch when extending my arms (and I have short arms!). We walked past a lot of interesting doorways. We walked till dark, had dinner and called it a (long) day.

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