We said au revoir to the Royal Champagne hotel very early on Tuesday morning and drove back to Paris. From Paris Gare de Lyon, we caught an early train to Avignon, in Provence in Southern France. The 2.5 hour train ride was relaxing and gave us both a chance to catch up on our writing. On a side note, the majority of our train travel was low-stress – I would highly recommend using the rail system in France because of this reason.
Once we arrived at the Avignon TGV, we picked up the rental car and made our way to the city centre. We promptly checked into Hotel D’Europe (another recommendation by a friend) and were immensely happy with the hotel and our room. Tucked away in a far corner, our room was quiet, spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a wonderful view of the courtyard below.
Beyond our room, the common areas of the hotel reflected architecture, artwork, and decor of the Napoleonic age, which really set the tone for our whole trip. Between the attentive and gracious staff to the overall ambience, it was easy to feel like royalty when staying in this beautiful and historic hotel, especially when former guests include Napoleon himself, Charles Dickens, and Jackie Kennedy.
Yet, our time in Avignon did not focus merely on our accommodations, but rather all that Avignon has to offer – history, culture, gastronomic delights, and more. If you’re not familiar with Avignon, it is a walled Medieval city situated on the banks of the Rhone River. The city’s popularity grew to greater heights when it became the home of the Catholic Pope in 1309, and remained the papal residence until 1377. For this reason, Avignon is known as the City of the Popes.
With this history in mind, we purchased a pass to visit the well-known Palace of the Popes within the Avignon city walls and just a few minutes walk from our hotel. We spent nearly 2 hours roaming the 20 or so rooms, intently listening to the English audio tour which explained the palace’s history and life inside the Palace walls. The visit and tour were well worth the few Euro we paid.
The remainder of our day was spent relaxing at a cafe in one of the many squares or plazas and gazing longingly into patisseries and glaciers. More to follow on that and our side trips to Nimes, Gordes, and the Mediterranean coast!