Burcu Başar

The Old City of Popes – Avignon

“Sur le Pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse tous en rond” – even if you do not speak French, you may have still heard of this French kids song concerning the Bridge of Avignon. This bridge, which was built during the 12the century, constituted one of the important phases along the pilgrimage road between Italy and France during the Middle Age. The bridge which is supposed to cross over the Rhone River is today only half alive giving rise to very interesting views. Even though this half bridge (also thanks to the song) is what Avignon is most renowned for, for me Avignon has a lot more to offer than the bridge. My favorite part is its very narrow streets which unexpectedly and all of a sudden end up by the river walk. The restaurants having their own yards are also as pleasant. I happen to find myself in one of these restaurants for a long lunch and then pass on to visit the temporary exhibits located in various corners of the town focused on women`s art – well thanks to the artful feelings created by the intake of some white wine, I sure appreciate the art at a deeper level! As it is the case for most of Provence, Avignon, especially during the summer period, is also very active in terms of the high quality art exhibits. The most famous one among these art events is the annual performance arts festival occurring in July. The famous landmarks of Avignon such as le Palais des Papes are also being used as venues to display some of the exhibits. The touch of such historic architecture sure makes the exhibit experience even more pleasant. The history of le Palais des Papes is also quite interesting. The palace is built following the move of Pope from Rome to Avignon during 1300s. Follwing this move, Avignon becomes the residence of the Popes for 70 years instead of Rome. This 70 years period marks one of the most powerful times in the history of Avignon. I believe Avignon still holds a slight touch of that feeling of superiority compared to the other towns in Provence. Its streets, cafes and even its people appear to be somehow cooler. I can even describe Avignon as St. Tropez of Provence. This should however not turn you off. Even if you don`t stay in Avignon, it is definitely still worth a day visit.