Monday, August 13, 2012

Avignon and Jardin des Doms

I had come to Avignon to do errands and eat lunch at La Mirande (more about that wonderful meal in my next post). I found a place to park and headed towards the Place de l'Horloge, the center of Avignon near the Palais des Papes, the residence of the Popes from 1309 to 1377.

As I was walking, I came upon a steep stairway called Escalier Sainte Anne. Since it was open to the public and I am always looking for places with great views for pictures, I decided to climb to the top and see what was up there. After huffing and puffing up the steps, I made it to the top and discovered a beautiful park.

First developed in the 18th century, the Jardin des Doms became a popular spot for walking. The park offered a retreat from the bustle of Avignon and magnificent views of the historical city, the Rhône River, Saint Bénézet Bridge, Villeneuve-lez-Avignon and Mont Ventoux. It was fully landscaped as a public park in the 19th century.

The seven acre park is beautifully landscaped with shrubs and trees, statues of local notables and built around a pond which is home to ducks and geese. There are lots of benches, a picnic area and children's playgrounds. You will have to take my word for this since my pictures are mostly of the great views from the park.

The gilded statue of the Virgin Mary which surmounts the western tower of Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral over the top of the trees.

Fort Saint André across the Rhône River in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon.

A statue of Paul Vayson, a French painter born in Gordes in 1841, he was educated in Avignon and studied law in Paris. The subject of his paintings were mostly animals or pastoral scenes. His paintings included "Hay Making in Provence," "Sheep in Provence," "Sleeping Shepherdess," and "Truffle Gatherers". He died in 1911.

Saint Bénézet Bridge, the bridge across the Rhône River of the song "Sur le pont d'Avignon" (On the bridge of Avignon) which describes folk dancing was initially built between 1171 and 1185.

Jean Althen was an Armenian agronomist who developed the cultivation of Madder in France. Although the plant had been present in the region before his arrival, it was Althen who developed its cultivation, paving the way for production of the colorful fabrics of Provence.

A view up the Rhône River towards Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see the ruins of the famous castle erected by the Popes on the left and Mont Ventoux on the right.

A side view of Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral,a Romanesque building mainly built during the 12th century.

In addition to the entrance from Sainte Anne stairway, you can also enter the Jardin des Doms from Place des Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace Square) shown here and the watchman's walk along the ramparts from Saint Bénézet Bridge.

Place des Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace Square).

The interior of the beautiful Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral.

A side view of a statue of Christ on the cross in front of Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral.

Hôtel des Monnaies across the Place des Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace Square) was built in 1619. The coat of arms on the building is that of Pope Paul V.

A narrow passageway through the rocks to La Mirande Hotel and Restaurant. A lady sits in the shade playing an accordion.

L’Opera D’Avignon's inaugural performance occurred in 1847.

Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs. The penitent brotherhoods were at their peak during the 16th and 17th centuries. The brothers were expected to help each other, do public penance, and perform good deeds. The brotherhood they belonged to was identified by the color of their sackcloth and the hood that covered their heads during processions. Each brotherhood had its own chapel. This is the chapel of the black penitents.

I was happy to discover the Jardin des Doms and would recommend you include time for a visit when you are in this historic town. It is open all year and admission is free. It is not the place to go when the Mistral winds are fierce as the high exposure of the gardens would probably make it unpleasant.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt. Have a great day, chat soon!


  1. What a beautiful town and with so much of interest, thanks so much for sharing this gorgeous place.
    One day I want to cycle up Mont Ventoux!!! I must be nuts.
    Bonne journée à vous aussi. A bientôt. Diane

  2. Diane - Definitely worth a visit to Avignon. Full of suprises around every corner it seems. Hey why not cycle up Mont Ventoux; my 80 year old cousin still cycles up once a year.

    Sara - I agree with you completely.

  3. Your photos show the most beautiful part of Avignon!

  4. Your photos of Avignon are beautiful! Another “someday”…tell me was it as sweltering hot there as it has been here? Today was much cooler, tomorrow until the end of next week a heatwave…yikes.

  5. The Jardin des Doms sounds like a wonderful place for a walk... can't wait to read your restaurant post and thanks for sharing all of these tips for Avignon, going into my little black book!

  6. Labergerebasque - Thank you for the sweet feedback. Yes, it has been super hot.

    Tuula - The Jardin des Doms should not be missed as it affords views you can't get anywhere else in Avignon. Also, as you say, its a nice place to walk.

  7. Barbara - You are right that the most beautiful and impressive parts of Avignon are around the Palais des Papes and the Hotel de Ville.