Sur le pont?

Papal Palace


One of those famous places whose name rings a bell – though if you’re like me, you’ll not be able to recall quite why. At least until you go there.

Busy street

Ah yes, the famous international arts festival.

Ah yes, the pont d’Avignon, on which we danced, on which we danced.

Ah yes, the papal palace, where the Vatican decamped for a spell, as previewed by Niall in his wonder quest.

And once you do get there, if you’re me, you discover that the fame doesn’t seem quite so deserved.

The international arts festival is a pile of pretentious rubbish drawing such vast and heaving crowds that what would be a very beautiful city is turned into a living hell.

I’ve regularly ranted about the Edinburgh Festival, and how much I hate Scotland’s capital for the month of August. So really I shouldn’t complain, as I should have known what to expect from Avignon in the midst of its festival.

Sur le pont d'Avignon

Next, the famous pont d’Avignon. It’s not a bridge. It’s half a bridge. A pier, to use the technical term. And at four euros per person, it’s somewhat of a pricey dance.  If I wanted to visit a famous pier, I’d go somewhere closer to home, like Hastings, Brighton or Wigan.

And the papal palace, which I was told was unimpressive inside, consisting basically of a series of big, empty rooms, did not exceed expectations.


It was certainly formidable and dominating from the outside, but it was not a gamble I felt was worth the 13 euro entry price; a decision validated by the reports of those who did go in.

Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was because we arrived late on in the day when we were already tired from a day on the road, and maybe it was the poor timing as we collided with the festival. But apart from the impressive frontage of the papal palace, I’m not convinced I saw enough to persuade me that a repeat visit to Avignon would be worth it.

Except for one thing. Avignon’s TGV railway station (right) is a stunning piece of modern architecture, and I could have spent hours there taking in its cool, bright atmosphere and sleek design. I’d go back just to see it again.

On a high-speed train, naturally.

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