About an hour and a half away from where I’m staying is this little town called Avignon. You might have heard the song. The animation in the music video is freaking me out a little (but in a cute way), so I’m going to link you here because I’d rather not display it where I will constantly look at their little heads bobbing back and forth.
Being one of the cities under the influence of the Roman Empire, Avignon is your typical Roman city. Lots of big walls, maybe a castle, maybe a church, big streets, little streets, etc. Sort of reminded me of Arles, which also used to be a Roman city. It was then sold to the papacy, but strangely enough did not get included as a part of France until after the Revolutionary War (whattt).
This is the amazing half-bridge of Avignon, called “Le Pont d’Avignon.” It’s also called “Le Pont Saint Benezat” because there’s this legend that God sent this guy named Saint Benezat to build this bridge. However, based on my understanding, he had thrown a rock into the Rhone (the river that Avignon sits next to) and didn’t succeed. The bridge didn’t get built much later, and even then it was just half a bridge. Wohoo, because I was deceived when I realized I couldn’t get to the other side of the river bank. Apparently there were a crap ton of floods on the river while it was being built and too many people kept dying while trying to construct it. Louis XIV was one of the last people to cross the bridge before it collapsed in the 17th century. Weirdly enough, he didn’t even bother to restore it.
Foggy morning, but still a great panoramic view of Avignon from the top of Palais des Papes. There was a ton of Christian influence during the 14th century and nine popes lived here. But there were only about two who actually stayed: Clement VII and Benoit XIII. Cool fact: le Palais des Papes is the biggest gothic monument in the Occident region and perhaps the most important! No? Not interesting? Oh, well, you get a little history lesson while reading this. Inside this big building, there are a ton of frescos by an Italian artist named Matteo Giovannetti. Frescos are these long paintings that pattern the wall, but unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures of them because the camera would have caused the paint to deteriorate (apparently this is a common rule in France).
Almost every city seems to have a church called “Notre Dame”? Why? Well, it directly translates to “Our Lady” so I can sort of see how that would be a common name: it’s broad and it sounds pretty. But in Avignong, the Notre Dame cathedral is called “Notre Dame de Tout Pouvoir” which translates to “Our Lady of All Power.” There are multiple statues of Virgin Mary. But one particularly stood out to me. It was built in 1838 by a man named James Pradier that depicts Virgin Mary in prayer as protection from the cholera epidemic in 1834 (clever).