France

Avignon

Lets get Medival

In a monumental way
Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France on the left bank of the Rhône river. The ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts, houses approximately 10% of the towns population. Between 1309 and 1377 during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when, during the French Revolution, it became part of France. The town is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

STORM THE WALLS!

No breaking down these walls

Like a lot of things in Avignon, these walls were built in the fourteenth century during the time of the Popes. Specifically, the walls were begun in 1355 during the pontificate of Innocent VI for the purpose of protecting the city from attacks by the Grandes Companies, which were bands of mercenary soldiers who were unemployed in times of peace, so they joined together to form armed bands of robbers. The walls were finished in 1370 under Pope Urbain V. From the start, the walls also had a secondary purpose, which was to protect the city from being flooded by the Rhône River during periods of high water.

Lets Build a bridge

and get over it
In the Middle Ages, the Saint Bénézet bridge was part of one of the most important pilgrimage routes between Italy and Spain. It fast became essential to the pontifical court in Avignon during the 14th century. From the 17th century on, the city could no longer bear the costs of the bridge’s maintenance and repairs. In 1603, following strong flooding of the Rhône, one arch collapsed, then three others in 1605. Repair work didn’t start until 1628, interrupted by an epidemic of plague. The bridge was not usable again until 1633. Two months later, two new arches were swept away by the Rhône.

This and much more awaits you in the Avignon leg of our European tours

Back to 16 Day Tour

Palais des Papes: Artur Staszewski on Flickr

Avignon – City walls: Elliott Brown on Flickr