After Paris we took the train to Avignon, in the region of Provence, and experienced four days of absolute perfection. The weather was beautiful and the surroundings felt so old world and quaint. This medieval walled city was the exact opposite of the hustle and bustle of tourist-y Paris. We chose to stay here, a small place for two, situated on a quiet little street in the heart of city.
Avignon, known as the City of Popes, is home to the Palais des Papes museum. We skipped the tour and instead explored the landscape that overlooks the city and the Rhône river. We also took a ride on the ferris wheel since I missed out on the one in Paris.
Saint-Benezet bridge, only 4 arches remain of the original 22.
The next day we packed a little picnic of wine and cheese and went on a mini-adventure to visit Fort Saint-André in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. We decided to walk there, on what was probably the hottest day of the entire two weeks. Can you see the fort through the trees? Haha.
After such a long day we were going to call it an early night but somehow found some energy and got to experience La Fête de la Musique. I really wish I had brought my camera out to capture all the sights and sounds.
The next morning the city was a ghost-town. We were up bright and early for our guided, Occitania Provence-In-A-Day tour. We visited Roussillon first. This little village looked amazing. All the bright, vivid buildings are coloured from the ochre that is found in the clay that surrounds the village.
As we made our way to Gordes we stopped to capture a few photos of the lavender fields just starting to bloom. In Gordes, as we walked along admiring the stone buildings with terracotta roof tiles, we came across a little art shop that featured two amazing artists: Valérie Gremmo (oil painting) and Gerard Lami (metal sculpture).
I regret not splurging on this painting. Her stuff was unbelievable.
Next on the itinerary was Les Baux where we could have really used a lot more time. We did the ultimate speed tour through the castle and then caught our van just in time to head over to Arles which was a bit disappointing.
The last stop on the tour was Pont du Gard where I would have loved to spend the day. The weather was so nice it would have been amazing to pack a picnic and spend the afternoon taking in the incredible aqueduct structure while wading through the Gardon River.
As our tour was ending we asked our guide to recommend a good place to eat, he mentioned Au Tout Petit, and it ended up being one of our favourite restaurants of the entire trip. The menu changes quite often but if you really want to experience incredible, original food the chef here does not disappoint. He even comes out to talk to his patrons. Call to make a reservation and leave extra time between dinner and the rest of your night because service was on the slower side with only two waiters.
Other restaurants we visited while in Avignon:
L’epicerie: We weren’t thrilled about the service and the food was just okay.
La Fourchette: Small restaurant with small portions and friendly service. You will definitely need reservations.
Tapalocas: We didn’t eat here (we were always there in between meals) but they had the largest sized beers we could find and they had a happy hour.
Can you tell I loved Avignon? I have too many photos that I still want to share so maybe those will pop up on photo Fridays. Part 4 of France coming up in 2014.
P.S. I forgot to mention in my Paris post to visit Hugo & Victor if you are wandering around in the Saint-Germain area. This pastry shop looks like a jewelry boutique and each dessert is showcased as a work of art. The macaroons here were delicious.