Avignon, France – the historic center

Avignon is a treasure house of palaces, museums
and meandering lanes in Provence in the South of France, surrounded by an old fortified
wall that still protects it. That is one of the beauties of a walled town
in Europe, not only did it protect the town from bandits and invaders during the Middle
Ages, but in the 20th and 21st centuries it continued protecting these historic centers
from modernization. Which means that the old town is beautifully
preserved with large pedestrian zones, and yet at the same time filled with up-to-date
shops and restaurants, a city providing comforts, convenience and entertainment that you expect
to find in the sophisticated culture of France. They built the largest Gothic palace in all
of Europe, so it’s definitely something you must see when you come to Avignon, and also
the little streets and pedestrian zones are certainly part of the charm, forming a large
automobile-free zone, filled with shops and restaurants that will keep you busy. We’ll take you on a tour of the main highlights
as well as explore the extensive pedestrian zone and do some shopping, providing maps
and tips to help you get around. As usual, it’s an entertaining and practical
approach filled with great visuals and helpful descriptions. This is one of the most beautiful cities in
France. It’s loaded with historic monuments, especially
the great Palace of the Popes. In the 14th century the popes left the Vatican
in Rome and relocated to Avignon, which transformed this city into one of the most powerful places
in all of Europe at the time. The popes remained here for nearly 100 years
and this was the Golden Period of the city when the great palaces were built in great
mansions and the wall was constructed all the way around the town to protect the popes. Begin your orientation of Avignon, with a
look at the two main squares in the center of town, the Place de l’Horloge, surrounded
by cafes and bistros and the adjacent Place du Palais containing the city’s most important
and historic structure, the Palace of the Popes. Along with the Pope’s Palace and those two
central plazas, the other main sites to see are the many pedestrian lanes lined with shops
and historic structures and the main street, the Rue de la République, along with the
medieval wall that still goes around most of this historic center. Arriving at the main gate through the wall
is a typical way that most visitors enter Avignon, especially if you’re coming from
the train, which is just across the street and this leads directly into the main street,
which extends through the center from the train station nearly to the Pope’s Palace
in a straight line about one mile long. And we are here on a Saturday afternoon and
evening when it’s really special because it’s closed down to automobiles at that time, and
it becomes this big pedestrian mall. It’s like a street party. Of course one of your main actions when you’re
walking around is people-watching, and especially when it’s a couple of beautiful kids like
this, in their little carriage. This was just too charming and too friendly. It was a great scene and we all enjoyed it. Lined with modern shops and various quality
restaurants, it is the town center’s busiest, especially lively late afternoon and early
evening. Even if you are here on a weekday when the
road is open to normal traffic, it’s still very pleasant and there are really not many
cars going by. You’ll find that people are still walking
in the street cautiously. There’s a lot of quick places to eat here,
but you’ll probably get a better meal if you look for some of those quality restaurants
on the side streets, unless you’re just looking for some simple foods, as we’ll show you in
a moment. Towards the southern end part of it is lined
by a lovely, tree tunnel. It leads from the main train station straight
through town to the Place de l’Horloge, one of the main squares. It’s straight road that was cut through in
the mid-1800s through what had been typical narrow, winding twisted medieval streets of
Avignon that you still find throughout the rest of the historic center. It’s a grand boulevard with pedestrian-friendly
wide sidewalks, restaurants, fast food, fine cuisine, clothing stores. It’s really the retail center of Avignon. There are some big department stores like
Mono-Prix, FNAC and H&M. And you’ve got street music. (music)
There are a snack shops, sandwich shops, pizza and there’s also a department store, Carrefour,
that has got a nice food department in the basement where you can get bread and cheese,
bottle of wine and take some snacks back to your room maybe. Aah, but French cuisine. When given the choice and opportunity in a
place like Avignon, go ahead and indulge in a great French meal. Back out onto the Place de l’Horloge lined
with restaurants and cafés and bars. It’s a great spot in the center of town, carousel
is usually going and check out these bubbles. This guy has got the biggest bubble ever,
right out in front of the Opera. This Place is one of the central points of
the city with a mix of restaurants ranging from a simple bistro to fine dining. You’re going to find many excellent restaurants
within a few blocks of this central Place and lovely streets for strolling, as we’ll
show you now. Exiting the southwest corner of the Place
you will come right into lovely Rue Sant Agricol and beyond that Rue Joseph Vernet. The map shows how these lively neighborhoods
in the center of Avignon are very close together. You’ve got those main streets of Vernet and
Agricol right next to the Place de l’Horloge making one of the most interesting parts of
town for you to explore. Later we will show you an even larger pedestrian
zone over on the east side of town. Be sure to walk a few blocks up and down Rue
Sant Agricol, a classic side street which offers a delightfully pleasant environment
of shops and people out for a stroll. Just next to the town’s main square, Place
de l’Horloge. Notice how they have iron posts to protect
pedestrians from the automobiles because this busy street is open to traffic and yet remains
very safe because of the design. There’s a rich variety of kinds of shops here
and throughout the entire town center. This is one of the favorite streets for just
browsing along. Remember this is Saturday night, the one evening
that people just take over the street, so there is lots of folks out. In the morning it’s a lot quieter, so if you’re
out here at 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning this main street really has a different character,
a different quality than later in the day. There are a couple of quiet side streets,
you might have a look at. They don’t have much in the way of shop or
important touristic destinations, although you will run into a friendly little wine store
where you can taste before you buy, and some old buildings. Tucked away nearby is the dilapidated Pallais
du Rouer where Pope Julius 2nd ran a school. A good reason to spend several days in Avignon,
so you’ve got the time for just sort of an aimless wanderer down these back alleys, getting
a little lost, and then back into retail heaven. One of the nicer shopping streets in Avignon
is Rue Joseph Vernet. Now this street is really at its best late
in the day and early twilight when you have that magical combination of twilight, you’ve
got shop lights, the evening light, the street lights are on, just beautiful to be out on
the streets at this hour. It stays quite lively. It’s a very safe spot 10 o’clock, even 11
o’clock at night. Of course, the shops will be closed, usually
by about 8 o’clock, but the restaurants and the cafes and the bars are open. While it’s obviously a shopping area you don’t
have to be purchasing anything to participate in this pleasure. People are here just for the experience of
strolling along enjoying the scene with the rich scenario of shops and lighting and people
all blending in together to a great experience. We say windowshopping in America. The French say licking the windows. A most pleasant stroll through this deluxe
part of town. As we’ve shown on the map, it’s quite easy
to find this lovely shopping area. It’s just a few blocks west of Place de l’Horloge,
the main central square of town and yet many visitors might simply overlook this because
it’s not in the main tourist zone of historic monuments, being a couple blocks west of the
town center, and yet it is worth finding. If you can’t make it here at twilight, then
just come over anytime you can. It’s good throughout the day. The shops stay open, some close in the midafternoon
for a brief siesta, we’ re still in the south of Europe, after all. Travelers are generally busy every day, so
don’t worry about exactly what time to get here, but make it a point to find the street. At the lower end it’s a little wider. It’s got a lane for parking and one lane for
through traffic, but for the most part it’s only one lane with wide sidewalks, makes it
a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. You’ll find the lower end does not have nearly
as many shops and those stores are a little bit less upscale, more down to earth, so that
makes a nice part to see as well. The total length of the street is just about
700 meters so you can easily see the whole thing. The street is named after one of the most
famous painters of Avignon, Joseph Vernet, who worked during the 18th century noted for
his seascapes and so it’s only appropriate there are a number of art galleries on the
street today. There is just one hotel on the street the
Mignon and it offers quality rooms at affordable prices. It’s 2 stars and the rooms are soundproofed
and it’s right in the middle of the shopping area. If you prefer a luxury hotel, walk towards
the north end of Rue Joseph Vernet and take a left down to Place Crillon j, ust a block
away, where you will come upon the Hotel d’Europe, oh it’s a five-star deluxe property. It is rated number 2 of all the hotels in
Avignon on Trip Advisor and we will take a look inside. On behalf of the staff of the Hotel d’Europe,
we welcome you. Even though it’s five-star deluxe you could
book a room here during most of the year for just over two hundred euro, or with breakfast
included about €250 for 2 people. I do not usually get a chance to stay at the
five-star level, but some years ago I had the good fortune to stay here. It was a memorable experience. Not only do you feel pampered in such a luxurious
environment, but you’re also located in the very center of the historic zone. The hotel, where you stand right now, it’s
right here. It was built in 1580 and it used to be the
house of Marquis of Gravaton It remained a private mansion from late 1580
to 1799, when it became a hotel, making it one of the oldest hotels in France. Another hotel you might consider is the Mercure. It is right in the heart of town between the
Pope’s Palace and the Place de l’Horloge, a very comfortable four-star hotel. It’s it’s in the Accor group of French hotels
and we found it was a very nice place, very clean, modern and friendly. We have many more movies about Provence and
the south of France in our collection including Avignon, Arles, and the artistic village of
St Paul. We’ll be taking you to the stone village
of Les Baux, have some crepes, down to Nice, the beach, the old town. We’ll see it during the daylight and take
you back there at night. We’ll be visiting historic sites and meeting
the people, Pont du Gard, ancient Roman aqueduct, the quaint village of St Remy will charm you
on market day with street music, you’ll see shop dogs and ancient arcades, the daily joy
of life in the streets is one of our specialties. We’ll do some downtown shopping and enjoy
traditional recreation, You can also find Aix en Provence, Cannes
and nearby Antibes along the sunny shores, and Marseilles in our series of travel videos,
all the best of southern France. Look for them in our collection.

7 Replies to “Avignon, France – the historic center”

  1. Que bonita ciudad!! Son muy buenos sus videos, los he visto casii todos, estan fantasticos( parece que estuviera alli) y sin trasladarme aprecio mas los paisajes!! Muchas gracias!!

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