Villeneuve-les-Avignon and the River Rhone
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This beautiful walk begins at the Tour Phillipe le Bel. This was a defensive tower built by the French king during the time of the Avignon Papacy to keep an eye on what his rivals across the River Rhone were up to. It was also the point at which the famous Pont d'Avignon used to reach the opposite bank (only the first three spans on the Avignon end currently exist).
Our first few kilometres run along the bank of the River Rhone, north from the Tour Phillipe le Bel. Not only are you likely to spot cormorants here, but there are occasional views across the river to the skyline of Avignon. This is dominated by the impressive Palais des Papes and the golden Madonna on top of the church of Notre Dames Des Doms, so you may want to have your camera handy! If you have the opportunity to pop back at sunset, you won't be disappointed.
Soon, views across to the left (north) open up and you will see our next destination, the Fort St Andre. Sitting impressively atop a rocky spur, this was another of Phillipe le Bel's defensive structures, built ostensibly to protect the tiny township of Bourg St Andre, but in actuality, a show of power to Avignon. We head away from the river to the base of the cliff, but don't climb to the fort just yet.
This walk takes us the easy way to the top: into Villeneuve-les-Avignon via the medieval Chartreuse. This is the first of Villeneuve's paying attractions that you may wish to visit. If you do, ask for a free Avignon Passcard. This will give you discounted access to more attractions in the area. From the Chartreuse, we walk up Villeneuve's narrow shopping street to the market square. Here, you will find not only bars, cafes, boulangeries and the like, but also the Musee (museum) Phillippe de Luxembourg, with its magnificent art collection.
We now climb steadily upwards to the Fort St Andre. Although you can explore some of the fort for free, there are also two paying visitor attractions. The first is the interior of the fort itself, with its ornate stateroom; the second (and more impressive) is the Italian Gardens. If you go for just the one, make it the gardens, which are said to be the best Italian gardens in France. There are excellent views from all around the fort area.
Next we cross the town to the Colline des Mourges. This is an area of parkland overlooking Villeneuve and is a great place from which to take photos of the Fort St Andre, before finishing our walk once again at the Tour Phillipe le Bel. Again, you can pay a small sum to visit and climb to the top.
France - South of France - Languedoc-Roussillon - Gard
Ancient Monument, Birds, Cafe, Castle, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Good for Wheelchairs, Great Views, Museum, Public Transport, River, Stately Home, Tea Shop, Toilets