Under the shimmering Provence sun, city squares are where people get together, the source of life style in Provence. In the shade of a graceful plane tree, to the music of the strident cicadas, take the time to take it all in…
“Shall we meet up at Place Pie?” In Avignon, you will undoubtedly hear this question, a rhetorical question indeed, at the end of the day, among Avignon locals planning their evening get-together. The historical centre is surrounded by ramparts, and has built its urban organization around many small squares inside the city walls, each with its own history, reputation and specificity.
And indeed, Place Pie, in front of Les Halles marketplace, is full of sidewalk cafés, bars and brasseries. Place Pie is the square of Epicureans, where people meet up and celebrate.
Place des Corps Saints also has its fair share of good restaurants. Stately plane trees provide shade, there is the magnificent Church of Les Célestins. Place des Corps Saints is headquarters to actors and actresses during the festival, it’s food-lovers’ favourite with its great addresses!
Place des Corps Saints is just a few streets away from Place Saint-Didier, once the silkworm market as an inscription in the stone wall of a city mansion still tells us. Place Saint Didier has a true neighbourhood feeling to it, with its sidewalk café the Grand Café Barretta, the vegetable shop, a butcher, lots of other shops, and of course, the Church of Saint Didier!
When you walk up the main street, Rue de la République, you discover the epicentre of Avignon intra-muros with the big square Place de l’Horloge. Here you can look closely and find all the symbols of Avignon, in the mosaic on the ground there is the city’s motto Inguibus et rostro, and in the tower (known as the Jacquemart) above the City Hall, there are the two automatons that strike the hours.
A few steps beyond Place de l’Horloge is the square in front of the Palace of the Popes, the Place du Palais, not to be missed. A narrow street leads to the amazing discovery of this magnificent Italianate square which reveals the Palace, the basilica of Notre Dame des Doms and the Petit Palais.
In the popular neighbourhood around Rue de la Carreterie, there is the square Place des Carmes, a charming square that makes Avignon feel like a village. The square has a covered marketplace (Halle), thriving theatres, and lots of restaurants and cafés where it is a pleasure to watch city life.
As you enter Avignon, you come upon one of the most bourgeois squares in Avignon, Place Crillon with its old Jeu de Paume building. City mansions line the square which stands opposite one of the oldest hotels in France, the beautiful Hôtel d’Europe which will soon be celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is quite chic to sit back in the sun and enjoy a glass of bubbly on Place Crillon.