Where is your happy place? Mine has always been France. If you have read this site for a while you might know I lived there twice, both were enough time to fall madly in love with the country. In June, I visited Avignon on part of a wonderful excusrion of antiquing with Toma Clark Haines of The Antiques Diva. Avignon was a charming town brimming with history. It's narrow streets and charming facades dotted with pastel shutters will hook you until you return again. Here are a few tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.
To learn more about antiquing in France, read 'The Thrill of the Hunt' in the latest issue of the Journal.
Where to Stay
Stay at this 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of Avignon. The rooms are suites are cozy and wonderfully French from the tapestry covered wallpaper to the crystal chandeliers hanging over head.
Staying in a local's apartment is one way to get an authentic feel of where you are visiting. We stayed in a 15th century apartment right below the Papal Palace. Inside the fabric wall coverings were peeling, frescos were on their slow decay and the smell of the past was definitely lingering in the air. It was divine!
What to Do
Visit the Palais des Papes
A mesmerizing walk through history. This former Gothic fortess and palace dates back to the 14th century and is must when visiting Avignon. The walls of the fortress can be seen as you wind your way through the narrow cobble stone streets. You can purchase tickets that cover the entrance fee to the Palais and the Pont Saint-Bénézet. There are quite a few tour groups that pass through the doors of this grand structure, so we recommend going later in the day for a peaceful experience.
Take a walk on the fabled bridge of Avigon, Pont Saint-Bénézet
You might be familiar with the song 'On the bridge of Avignon, they're all dancing...', about the iconic bridge which dates back to the Middle Ages and today is a World Heritage Site. Admission is required, so be sure to purchase your ticket in advance, noting it closes early during off season.
Visit Les Halles
The main marché in Avignon that offers a large selection of provisions from fresh fruit, flavored salts to cheese and bread.
Rocher des Domes
From the Palais des Papes, wander the path to the Rocher des Domes, a grassy park with fountains, scenic lookouts and unique, large shady trees. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the stone plaza or under the shade of a pomegranate tree.
Where to Eat
La Forchette, 17 Rue Racine
Provencial dining at its best with a friendly staff including a Jack Russell Terrier that stands by the door greeting all guests. . Each dish at La Forchette is made from local ingredients, including a melt-in-your-mouth local beef served with a cheesy gratin and a divine chocolate puff.
Creperie du Cloître, 9 Place du Cloître Saint Pierre
Authentic, no frills dining with some of the best quiche we have ever had. The menu chnages daily and is worth stopping by for a quick breakfast or lunch and sit under the umbrellas to do some people watching.
A view of the Pont Saint-Bénézet from the Rocher des Domes park
The century old door with the papal crest located behind the apartment we rented.
Photography by Alison / A very special thanks to Toma Clark Haines