Avignon is a commune located in the French départment of the Vaucluse. It is set in scenic surrounding that derives its water from Rhone River on the town's left Flank. Of the city's 97,000 inhabitants, 12,000 live in the Avignon's Old City in the heart of the town. The Old City is surrounded by the medieval ramparts that were built to protect the ancient cities from invaders. It is one of the few European cities that still preserve the ramparts.
The city is sometimes referred to as the 'City of Popes' due to the fact that during the Catholic Schism of 1309 to 1423, it was home to popes and anti-popes. Amazingly, due to the presence of ancient architecture within the city, it has been classified as a World Heritage Center by UNESCO under categories I, II and IV. Tourists who visit the city would be well advised to include the following attractions to their itinerary.
1. Avignon Festival
This is an annual event that is celebrated in Avignon and comprises of traditional theatrical events such as dance, music, and cinema. The event is attended by more than 100,000 people and is indeed a rare spectacle that you do not want to miss.
2. Notre Dame des Doms
This is a Romanesque cathedral built in the 12th century and the city's most visited attraction. Its most prominent feature is a gilded statue of the virgin. Another feature you may want to see in the cathedral is the mausoleum of Pope John XXII which showcases the best of Gothic architecture.
3. Palais des Papes
This palace is the most significant landmark in the city and was built from 1316 by John XXII and finished much later in 1370. Your tour of the town will not be complete without seeing this majestic palace.
4. The Ramparts
It seems that the popes of 14th century were an endangered species. Going by the fortifications that are built in this city, you would think they were under attack from most determined foes. The ramparts around the city had thirty-nine massive towers and pierced with several gateways. Thankfully, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc restored them and today, they are available for exploration by tourists.
5. Calvet Museum
This museum is named after Esprit Calvet, an Avignon physician who left his collections to the town in 1810. The museum contains Esprit's paintings, metalwork and among other collections. It also has over 140,000 volumes of books.
Avignon is a good place to visit on a weekend when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities. It is simplistic, budget-friendly and quiet. You can enjoy shopping for souvenirs and renaissance paintings in the shops and dining in the small eateries.