Path in front of Villeneuve-L?s-Avignon, France (Avignon Tourisme/JP Campomar)

Papal Palace and Pont de Benezet, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Avignon, France (Avignon Tourisme/JP Campomar)

Aerial view of Avignon, France (Avignon Tourisme/JP Campomar)

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What to do in Avignon

Framed by medieval stone ramparts, with a magnificent 14th-century palace at its heart, Avignon's ancient city center looks like something lifted directly out of a children's book of fairytales. The sprawling Palais des Papes was built in the 1300s as a papal residence, and it is still one of the largest Gothic structures in all of Europe today. You can tour the palace's stately rooms, frescoes, and private chambers, but the best of its medieval Christian art collection is displayed nearby, at the Petit Palace Museum. Perhaps inspired by its storybook setting, the Festival d’Avignon is a world-class theater event every summer that brings in more than 100,000 visitors. Plays are held inside the Palais des Papes, and artists perform one-acts and monologues on the streets—proof that Avignon makes room for the modern and less traditional, too.

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