We woke up early to check out of our hotel in Arles and get to Avignon with plenty time to eat breakfast and explore the Palais de Papes as soon as it opened. We only had until my train left at 1:00 PM, so we picked the Palais as our main focus for the few morning hours we would have in Avignon.
The Palais was much bigger in person than I thought it would be.
The building itself is basically a giant, empty stone palace. To make it more of a tourist attraction, they have filled it with screens showing little videos explaining the history of each room and its purpose. All of the rooms with intact frescoes were not allowed to be photographed, so most of the photos I have are of empty stone rooms. Still, it was awesome how much of it was original. Some of the wood beams in the ceilings were still there; that’s wood from the 14th century!
They also have some artifacts relating to the Palais and events that happened inside of it. I thought this was pretty cool.
There was also a room that only the popes could access where they kept their money under secret stones in the floor. They are now covered in glass, but there’s an empty space in the side and people have thrown in lots of their own money:
More of the Palais:
The view out one of the windows:
There were also some rooms housing sculptures and religious art from the time:
The next rooms were all being used to house a contemporary art exhibition titles “Les Papesses” featuring work from female artists Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak, and Berlinde de Bruyckere. The sculptural pieces were beautifully interwoven within the large, stone palace and spread throughout the rest of our tour until the end. There was also a very excellent documentary featuring Louise Bourgeois that we sat and watched for quite a while.
After several hours at the Palais, it was time for me to head back to Paris. I had an amazing few days in Provence and I am so glad I had this opportunity! My favorite city by far was Arles. I would love to go back there if I have the chance. I definitely recommend it, though I would like to go back to all the places that I visited!