When you talk about a visit to France, what comes to mind for many people is the Eiffel tower among other modern structures and attractions. However, there are many other equally amazing attractions that you can visit while travelling to France like I recently did. This was my second time in France so I opted to go to Avignon since I had previously explored much of Paris in my maiden visit. I later concluded my time in France by going to Nice that is yet another amazing destination that you must consider next time you are travelling to France.
Avignon is one of the places in France that will charm you with its ancient streets as well as restores medieval ramparts and the immense Gothic architecture of that papacy that was based here in the early 14th century. Apart from the streets, you will also enjoy visiting various places and catching up with the annual festival that attract a huge number of visitors every year. On the other hand, nice boasts of a cosmopolitan Riviera vibe and you will definitely love the encounter with fashion, eating at different restaurants and of course enjoying the sun at the beaches.
I cannot give a day-to-day account of my time in France because I cannot exhaust it in a single writing, therefore I will only give a sneak peek of my entire experience so that you too can know what to expect when travelling to France. I arrived in France in the evening and went straight to my hotel in Avignon after being cleared. I needed to shake off the jet lag effect in readiness for the adventure that awaited so I took a shower, went to the hotel’s restaurant for a quick light meal before going off to bed. For a moment, I thought I should have come in the company of friends but my determination to have fun quickly brushed off the thought.
I set out the next morning with my map and itinerary. I was also hoping to find some guides in the course of my adventure. The first place that I went to was the Pope’s Palace. This is one of the best historic sites you will ever come across. I paid the admission fee after which I was given an audio guide that was quite handy in getting around the palace. There is quite a bit to see such as the huge castle rooms as well as some amazing artifacts. I also noticed the church that is next to the palace. While here, be sure to climb to the top for some beautiful views. There are signs leading to a restaurant that you can also follow.
I also went to Rocher des Doms that is a nice park especially if you thinking of a good place to hang out or take a walk. While here, I got to see some breathtaking views of the surrounding areas of Avignon. I may be wrong on this but in my opinion; the gardens are more beautiful compared to the Papal palace. I grabbed a sandwich at the little sandwich shop on my way out.
I was also lucky to attend the much talked about Avignon Festival that is a must attend for anyone who is into contemporary dance, theatre and crossover performances. The only challenge here is that if you do not understand French then you are likely to miss on the fun when it comes to those performances that are not translated to English. The entertaining street performances at every corner are just amazing and most of them do not charge any fee. Even then, you need to be the lookout for pickpockets in the midst of all the color, acts, music, food and drink.
IIe de la Barthelasse is another place that cannot miss on my highlight of my French experience. This is a great historic walking area that also doubles up as an Island. It is very beautiful and there are a number of restaurants that are strategically lined along the river. Besides taking a walk here, you can also come here for a picnic. I enjoyed the feeling of being one with nature while here. However, you should not be surprised to see dogs as most people bring their pets here for walks.
Another must visit place in Avignon is Pont Saint Benezet that is popular the world over for the famous song. The importance of this bridge to the region is quite fascinating. There is an audio guide that tells the story behind this bridge. The life of Saint Benezet is sweet and touching. I joined other tourists in dancing and singing the song on this bridge. You can also pass by the gift shop. You also need to visit Cathedrale Notre-Dame des Doms that originally had Romanesque style. The history of this cathedral is amazing. Moreover, the architecture as well as beautiful tapestry is truly breathtaking. The only down turn for this cathedral is the fact that it is dark inside at the time I was visiting.
Place de I’Horloge is an equivalent of the Times Square and is worth visiting even though you should not expect to see much here. This square has many streets that lead to interesting shops. There are also various bars and cafes all of which have outdoor dining. You could be tempted to wander here forever as you watch the world go by. The Petit Train Avignon is also worth trying as it perfectly offers a good overview of the city. This train is a fun way of getting around hence a good investment because you will not only pass through the historical sites but also the back streets. Be sure to take some time and relax as you view the sites.
Hotel de Ville is another great surprise that you will come across when you are travelling to France. This is because many people expect to walk into a hotel when it is actually a very nice and beautiful building that houses city offices as well as various works of art and is worth viewing. It is located at the centre of this walled city. The works of art that are found here are really nice and are well spread around the various rooms. You cannot leave Avignon without going down Rue de la Republique that is a known to offer just about everything. This long street is lined with trees that give it a pretty look. There are also numerous cafes, shops, supermarkets, restaurants and even expensive designer shops. Of the many things that are on offer on this street, I enjoyed the ice cream the most. You can also try it.
As I had mentioned earlier, I also had a great time in Nice and I recommend that you consider this destination next time you are travelling to France. Although I was here for just two days, I made the most of my time and managed to visit. While here, I went to Promenade des Anglais that is such a beautiful beach for a morning stroll in the sun. It is a great place for cycling, walking, jogging, brisk walking, biking and even roller blades. There are various restaurants and bars along this clean beach.
The other place that I enjoyed visiting in Nice is Phoenix Parc Floral that is a collection of cactus plants as well as small animals. You can also find a nice spot to sit and relax or even read a book if you are not interested in seeing the animals that are in the enclosure. I cannot fail to mention Place Garibaldi that is a historic place with amazing architecture. You can have coffee as you admire the scenery. This wonderful square is not only a great place to visit for tourists only but also citizens. This square with a huge Garibaldi monument as well as nice buildings surrounding it marks the boundaries of this old town. Even then, you need to take caution as buses, cars and tram cross this street.
Going to the Opera de Nice was another wonderful experience in France. The music here added to the golden moments as well as the beauty of the relishing scenario. The old building needs some renovation in the interior. Besides opera, ballet and classical music concerts are also held here. I also went to the Cathedrale Orthodoxe Russe St. Nicolas that is pretty much similar to the cathedral I had visited in Avignon in terms of architecture. This cathedral is stunning that it will sure will blow you away. In general, France has so much beauty endowed in the numerous attractions that you can visit and have a great time. I will definitely consider travelling to France when an opportunity arises.