Sur le Pont d’Avignon…

PRE-TRIP:

Since most friends were going to be visiting fellow study abroad-ers in other cities this last weekend, I decided to take a little trip of my own… to AVIGNON. Of course, afterwards, their plans all fell through so it turns out I was the abandoner this time.

The most I planned out for the trip was… train tickets.

Fact:
Each country usually has its own form of train transportation. In France, it’s the SNCF/TGV system.

Using the bank card that finally works, I bought the train tickets for my 4-day retreat before having any type of plan in mind because I wanted to snag it fast for only 50€. The rest of the planning never happened.

The way I usually like to “plan” is to have a fluid schedule. For example, I don’t create a chronological itinerary for myself, but rather a list of priorities—things I have to do while there and an estimate of how long it takes. This way, I hit these up in any order and spontaneity is built into the schedule.

  • Palais des Papes, which I ended up not going into
    The largest gothic palace in the Europe. 15-19€ for a guided tour, 8,50€ for entrance only, Audioguide: 2€. Open 9:00-19:00. ~2 hour audioguide.
    Nights, they have a light show here! Les Luminessences D’avignon. 1-2 hours.
  • St. Bénezet Bridge, which I didn’t go on. 
    Out of the original 22 arches, only a few remain. Inspired the song in the title :)
  • Wine Tour, also which I didn’t go on
    The wine tours in Avignon have been raved about. Half-day tours: 80€, Full-day tours: 110€. I’m unsure if I will do this because it would take a whole day out of my stay in Avignon as well as costing more than the entire trip would itself.
  • Parc de Rochers des Doms, this I did hike up to… for the best view!! 
    Hiking up past the Palais des Papes, this will give a panoramic view of the city! Definitely something I’m interested in.. I want to take so many photos!
  • Villeneuve lez Avignon, I totally forgot this existed… but I did walk to the other side :)
    A charming little medieval town on the other side of the Rhone river, perched on a hill. Contains one of the largest monasteries in Europe.
  • Cinéma Utopia: I saw this when I got lost one day
    Has English-speaking movies with French subtitles sometimes. For a calm night.

DAY TRIPS

  • Day-trip to Marseille. THIS WAS AMAZING.
    It’s just 30 minutes away and I’ll be in the area anyways. TGV costs 24€ round trip and I’ve heard of a bus that would take 8€ if bought from the station. Since Marseilles is also somewhat on my bucket list, I should check this off in one weekend.
  • Aix-en-Provence. THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING had I not blown all my money in Avignon and Marseille

ACCOMMODATION: 

  • Pop’Hostel in the city center. I was going to couchsurf, but decided to book this first in case it fell through. There is a 48h cancellation policy, so if I don’t end up finding a host 2 days beforehand, I’ll know that I’m still guaranteed somewhere to stay for the three nights I’m there.

Notes:

  • First get the Avignon Pass (gives 20-50% discounts to subsequent tourist attractions). You can get these at any tourist attraction. First, you’ll pay full price for the first one, after which the discounts for subsequent attractions are applied. Nope. Didn’t pay for anything. 

I wish I would’ve headed to Avignon earlier in order to see the Lavender Fields, but it’s too late :(

Safety tips: be wary of going outside the walls at night—there have been robberies.

Quick AFTER-TRIP Summary: 

1. What did you end up doing for 3 days?
Good question, reader. I basically just walked around, had some quality me-time, and traveled to Marseille!—which ended up being my favorite city out of the two. Next time, I’ll just head to Marseille and spend more time there. 

2. Highlights of each city?
Avignon: Fou de Fafa, a classy restaurant that I treated myself to was definitely the highlight of Avignon. Food being a highlight? Not surprising.

Fou de Fafa

Marseille: taking a boat tour of the Calanques.

Calanque boat tour Both places: the people I met along the way!

3. What would you do differently?
I would probably dedicate more time in exploring Marseille—I was there for about 7 glorious hours and could only really mill around Vieux Port. Thankfully, a lot of action happened there. I probably should have remembered that nothing happens on Sunday, which would’ve affected my travel time back to Grenoble. By the time I got back, I was exhausted and only had a few hours (after uploading all the gorgeous photos) to rest.

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  • http://www.thebigmansworld.com Arman @ thebigmansworld

    Solo trips are sometimes the best- hiking would have been amazing!

    • Michelle

      Haha I’m definitely taking more of them now!

  • http://www.theladyokieblog.com Amanda Bumgarner

    Um, is that picture of the lavender field FOR REAL. Because that’s awesome.

    • Michelle

      I know right?! I’m really upset that I didn’t get to see it…