Avignon

After having a blast in Spain it was time to head to France! From Barcelona we headed to Avignon for the night.  Driving in we passed by the Pont Saint-Benezet, which is the famous arched bridge of the city. The bridge was originally built with 22 arches but now only has 4 arches because it was destroyed several times, primarily due to flooding of the Rhone. We then went directly to the ancient town center which is still surrounded by a large wall which was used to protect the city in the past. The city center was beautiful with all of the brick buildings and the massive cathedral in the town center.

Cathedral in the town center in Avignon

Cathedral in the town center

We were given just a few hours of free time to explore this city. Naturally, we decided to find somewhere to eat before exploring the rest of the city. We found a little cafe with outdoor seating that had the best bread and cheese. We ordered a variety of the baguettes with melted cheese and shared so that we could try a little of each. The best was the baguette with melted mozzarella and tomatoes on top followed by the baguette with blue cheese, goat cheese, and mozzarella with pears.

Blue cheese, goat cheese, and mozzarella with pears in Avignon

Blue cheese, goat cheese, and mozzarella with pears

Avignon

Avignon

Next we decided to go for a little wine tasting. Our tour director recommended this store where you load money onto a card and then use your card to try any of the wines. You select the wine and then then the amount and are charged accordingly. It was a unique concept in that you filled your own glass versus the traditional wine tasting but it was a great way to have a large variety of choices. I tried a rose wine, a couple whites, and then a sweet wine (which was my favorite). We ended up buying some champagne which was quite good (I actually like champagne more than wine).

Wine tasting machine where you select what you want to taste in Avignon

Wine tasting machine where you select what you want to taste

Due to the limited amount of time in Avignon, we only had about half an hour left to just walk around the city before meeting back up with the group. Even though it was such a short amount of time it was still a nice stop along the tour and it was definitely a needed “easy” day after Spain!

The next day we headed to Nice. We stopped in Aix-en-Provence for lunch where I had the best sandwich of my trip. It was a simple mozzarella and tomato sandwich but it was amazing — I think it must have been the combination of the freshly baked bread and the fresh ingredients that made it so good. France really does know how to make great bread! The bread and especially the croissants tasted so much better in France than the US. I also had to get a giant raspberry macaron to go with my lunch. It was too hard to resist after seeing how great the macarons looked!

Giant raspberry and pistachio macarons in Avignon

Giant raspberry and pistachio macarons

Amazing French desserts in Avignon

Amazing French desserts

After lunch we headed to the Fragonard Parfumerie where they gave us a tour of the factory – we saw people making perfume as well as soap. It was cool to learn more about the process and how they decide on the scent combinations. We of course smelled a bunch of the perfume while we were there! I typically like perfumes that have vanilla or fruit scents so I really liked their Belle Cherie scent which was very sweet smelling (its supposed to smell like cherries but I didn’t think it did). After the quick stop at Fragonard we were on our way to Nice!

-Stacie

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