The next day we drove from our base in Arles up to Avignon. Its reputation as a well preserved medieval city is well known. We parked just across the River Rhône and took a shuttle bus to the Porte de L’Oulle entry to the old town. The fortified walls were certainly impressive.
We took a walk around the west side before finding the main street, the Rue de la Republique. One way it leads to the train station and the other way to the north which we chose. Our first stop was the church of St Didier
which had a superb piece of Renaissance artwork entitled The Carrying of the Cross, dating back to 1478.
From there we walked through the Clock Square (Place de L’Horloge) where the well maintained Town Hall
and Opera House are located
up to the Place du Palais where the 14th Century Papal Palace is found as well as the Cathedral Notre-Dame-des-Doms.
We ate our picnic baguettes in the square and then walked up into Rocher des Doms park. Around the edge of the garden we had excellent views. In one direction we could see the nearby town of Villeneuve. In another there was the half bridge of St Bénézet partly crossing the Rhône River.
Using a succession of stairs, ramparts and even the internal stairs of a tower
we made our way down to the Bridge of St Bénézet visitor centre.
After paying our entry fee which included a ‘free’ audio guide we made our way over the first part of the bridge, which now crosses over the top of a road, through a gate and over a drawbridge onto the main part. The history of the bridge, its reasons for being built, under the watch of St Bénézet, and renovated at different times and of course the destruction of part of it were interesting to listen to on the audio guide. Views along the river with the huge cruise boats floating by and back to the fortified papal palace could be had.
On the audio guide we were even given a series of different renditions of the famous song in various styles too. Not too keen on the Reggae version! Needless to say I made sure we had our photo taken whilst ‘dancing’ on the bridge. Turned out the bloke we asked was from the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Karen wasn’t too sure about this but we did see a number of others also dancing in the time we were touring the bridge so she felt happier about it in the end.
When we reached the barrier at the end of the current half bridge, which was clearly being repaired, we made our way back across the bridge towards the old town.
On our way out of the entry area and shop I also took a quick photo of the mural of the song. It had been a fun way to end our visit to Avignon.