Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Travel Guide

  • The bridge as it looked in 1700
    The bridge as it looked in 1700
    by Nemorino
  • Eine Schießscharte
    Eine Schießscharte
    by Nemorino
  • Abbey Saint-André
    Abbey Saint-André
    by Nemorino

Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Things to Do

  • Fort Saint-André

    Fort Saint-André is a well-preserved example of fourteenth century military architecture. It is located on the top of Mont Andaon, the highest hill in Villeneuve lez Avignon, which it shares with the Abbey Saint-André.Construction of the fort was begun on orders of the French King Philippe le Bel (1270-1314) and was completed under his successors...

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  • Inside Fort Saint-André

    I don’t know whether this is an authentic medieval toilet or just a replica, in any case it is located on an upper floor of one of the towers. It is not connected to any kind of sewer system, but just to a sloping hole that soon ends in mid-air, so everything that came out of the toilet just fell down onto the ground next to the wall. Second photo:...

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  • Views from Fort Saint-André

    From the towers of the fort you can look out over the countryside for many miles or kilometers (or leagues, as they would have said at the time). In the first photo we are looking south towards Avignon, with the Palace of the Popes rising above the rest of the city.Second photo: Another view of Avignon and the Palace of the Popes, as seen through...

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  • Abbaye Saint-André

    In 1999 the owners of the site of the Abbey Saint-André celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of the abbey, since 999 was the year the abbey was officially recognized and approved by the Pope Grégoire V.Actually the abbey was founded somewhat earlier than that, since it had already been endorsed in 982 by the Bishop of...

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  • Inside the Chartreuse

    About one third of the Chartreuse building is open to visitors, including the Chapel of the Frescos with the remains of authentic wall paintings by Matteo Giovannetti (1322-1368), a painter who also created frescos in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. (Giovannetti was a friend of the poet Petrarch, who lived in Avignon at the same time.)Third and...

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  • La Chartreuse

    Near the entrance to Fort Saint-André I saw a sign for pedestrians pointing to “Chartreuse 15 min.” – which surprised me because the Chartreuse I knew was a mountainous region near Grenoble, over two hundred kilometers north of Villeneuve lez Avignon. I also knew ‘Chartreuse’ as a sticky-sweet liqueur that I used to drink sometimes out of...

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  • Tower of Philippe le Bel

    Philippe le Bel (1268–1314), known in English as Philip the Fair, was crowned as King Philippe IV of France at the cathedral in Reims on January 6, 1286.During his reign he was constantly at odds with the pope, Boniface VIII, over such issues as whether the king was allowed to collect taxes from the French clergy. Philippe IV was also instrumental...

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  • If monasteries were like this, I'd have...

    The monastery of Chartreuse du Val de Benediction (what a mouthful) was the largest Carthusian monastery in France during the Middle Ages, and a veritable advert for the monastic lifestyle!The monastery was founded by Pope Innocent VI in 1352 who owned an estate here when he was a cardinal and he donated the land to the order to found the monastery...

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  • Strain to see prisoners carvings on the...

    One of the more touching aspects of For St Andre is looking at the carvings made by prisoners on the stone floors. These are protected by glass and highlighted with little spotlights, but can be quite difficult to make out until you get your eye in, which rather adds to the experience (and might be a good way to keep kids occupied for a few...

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  • Pay your respects in the Belvezet chapel

    To describe the Belvezet chapel in Fort St Andre as tiny would be understating the case - which leaves me to conclude that the garrison in the fort were either an ungodly lot, or went to Mass elsewhere!The chapel is so understated that you could be forgiven for missing it. Which would be a shame, as it is an understated gem of stark, clean...

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  • Be intimidated by the imposing Fort St...

    It's hard not to be impressed, intimidated and otherwise awed by Fortress St Andre ... the embodiment of the fortress that little boys - and girls - envisage when they play games of medieval knights in armour ... hence my rather fanciful travelogue as an exercise in childish make believe (hell, it's my leisure time, so I'm allowed to play)!To...

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  • The looming presence of Philip le Bel's...

    Philip le Bel's tower is one of the defining features of the Villeneuve skyline and dates back to the early 14th century.Looking at the map, and extending the remaining portion of Pont St Bénézet in Avignon across both channels of the Rhone - and Barthlasse Island in between - I have a hunch that the tower used to stand sentinel over the Villeneuve...

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  • Meander through St Andre's Abbaye...

    Unfortunately I only had a scant morning to explore the myriad delights of Villeneuve, so I simply didn't have time to explore the charms of the Abbaye within the confines of the Fort St Andre ramparts.Apparently the gardens of the Abbaye in particular are stunning and must be a wonderful retreat from the heat of a Provencal summer - if you visit...

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  • Tomb of the monastery's founder, Pope...

    Here lies Pope Innocent VI, founder of Chartreuse du Val de Benediction, and buried in a side chapel of the monastery he founded (see my other travel tip). And when a newly elected Pope chooses to call himself 'Innocent', don't you just have to suspect that he has something to hide???Actually he did, because prior to the conclave at which he was...

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  • Ponder the basics of medieval ablution...

    Maybe it's my Germanic roots showing (and, let's face it, never has a nation been more in touch with its collective bowels!) but toilets fascinate me!Modern plumbing, dentistry and antibiotics seem to me to be some of the advances of the last couple of centuries that have added most greatly to our present quality of life. As children, we used to...

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  • Relish your 'lizard time' in Villeneuve!

    I just love the sentiment that this wonderful piece of municipal sculpture conveys about Villeneuve's lazy, laid back lifestyle!.Roughly translated, the associated plaque reads as follows:"Symbol of the good life in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, the lizard invites you to spend some 'lizard time' in our town and discover its history" (excuse the...

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  • Saturday morning antiques market in...

    This market was underway the Saturday morning that I visited Villeneuve - it was the last Saturday of the month, and I'can't say whether this is a weekly event or happens less frequently.To describe it as an 'antiques' market is probably a little generous on my part, as from the little I saw, there was more bric-a-brac than priceless heirlooms on...

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  • In the Church Is the Tomb of Pope...

    In the apse of the church is the Tomb of Innocent VI which is made of white marble. The figure lies on a raised level. In a small chapel beyond the refectory are frescos on the walls by Matteo Giovanetti.

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Hotels

  • Best Western La Magnaneraie

    37 Rue Camp de Bataille, Villeneuve-les-Avignon, Languedoc-Roussillon, FR-30400, France

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 4 out of 5 stars

  • HOTEL LE PRIEURE

    37, rue Camp-de-Bataille

Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Restaurants

  • by Redstater Written Dec 29, 2006

    A charcuterie right across the street from the local mairie.....they throw a few tables out onto the sidewalk in the evening and call themselves a restaurant. It's been a little while, so I've lost most of the details, but their entrecot au poivre was to die for, an entree that my wife and I still talk about wistfully.

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Transportation

  • Experimental road markings

    Two of the major streets in Villeneuve lez Avignon have these ‘experimental road markings’ consisting of shared bicycle lanes on both sides and a two-way car lane in the middle with no center line. The idea is that bicycles have priority in the side lanes, but when no bicycles are present the side lanes can also be used by motor vehicles.Of course...

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  • No passenger trains

    Villeneuve has a train station and even a ticket office, but no passenger trains. Scheduled passenger service on this route was discontinued in 1973, but the line is still used for numerous freight trains – over sixty per day, according to local press reports.An organization called the “Association of the Users of the TER-SNCF on the Right Bank of...

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  • Navette bus service to Avignon and TGV...

    (work in progress)As with the potential confusion between TGV and local trains in Avignon, it's easy to get confused between the local and regional bus services. That's not to say that it's complicated - in fact, quite the opposite - but you just need to know that there's a difference.The navette buses serving the local area in and around Avignon...

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Local Customs

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    by Nemorino Updated May 1, 2014

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    In the street Montée de la Tour in Villeneuve lez Avignon I saw this poster of a homeless old man searching through a waste bin, with a superimposed photo from happier times, showing the same man grilling in his back yard with a young woman looking on in the background.

    The headline at the top of the poster reads: “They have had a past. Let us help them find a future.”

    The poster was made by the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which was founded in 1990 to take actions "in order for the most underprivileged to be sustainably housed in dignity, regardless of their income or social status".

    The foundation reminds us that over 140,000 people in France are homeless. “Let us act!”

    Website: www.fondation-abbe-pierre.fr/en/
    Related tip/review: A Bridge Between Two Worlds, Brussels Local Custom Tip by Nemorino

    Next: Experimental road markings

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Warnings and Dangers

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    by CatherineReichardt Written Oct 17, 2011

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    Visiting churches is one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Europe, and provides a fascinating insight into the most powerful influencethat has shaped European cultures of the past couple of millenia.

    Unlike some other religions - where access to places of worship may be restricted to members of that religious group or a specific gender - the vast majority of Christian churches will allow tourists to visit at most times, including routine services (although some may charge an admission fee for doing so, and access may be denied for private events such as weddings and funerals). However, tourists should realise that most churches are still active places of worship, and so visitors need to exhibit a certain sensitivity to display respect to the culture and avoid giving offence to people at prayer.

    The following guidelines are based on wonderful advice offered by Homer (homaned) - who does this for a living - in a forum response, and although specifically written for Christian places of worship, would apply equally to places of worship for other religions

    So, here is a general list of do's and don'ts for people wishing to photograph during a church service:

    READ THE SIGNS
    If photography is not permitted - because, for example, it may damage paint on delicate murals - this will usually be indicated by a pictogram of a camera with a red line through it. Under most circumstances, you can assume that photography will be allowed (unless otherwise indicated), but may not be permitted during services. If in doubt, ask for clarification - this shows respect and will very seldom be met with anything other than a helpful response.

    TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!
    Every camera on the market has a button on it which will turn off the flash. The number one most alarming and distracting thing that can happen during a liturgy, and one which will even get you kicked out of some churches, is the bright flash that goes off when you take a picture. Not only is it distracting, but it usually makes the picture turn out dark, because your camera's flash only has about a 10-15' range. Turn off the flash, and hold the camera up against your eye, using the viewfinder, and you will likely get a better picture (and you definitely won't have any red-eye problems!).

    DON'T MOVE AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE! (UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION)
    Instead of walking all over down the main aisle and in front of everybody, pick a good place from which to take a picture at the beginning of the liturgy, and stay there. Unless you're a professional photographer with practice at stealthily moving during liturgies, you're a distraction, and you're being disrespectful. Even if you're a pro, try to stick to one out-of-the-way place, and use a zoom lens and zoom in to get pictures. Walking in front of people is a surefire way to distract and disrespect and closing in on priests or other celebrants just to capitalise on a photo opportunity is offensive.

    TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S SOUND!
    Every camera has some way to mute all its 'cute' beeps and clicking noises. If you press a button, and hear a beep, or if you take a picture and hear an obnoxious shutter clicking sound, you need to turn off those sounds (the muting option is usually in one of the menus). Along with the flashing, it's an obvious sign that someone is taking pictures and not showing much respect for those trying to pay attention to the liturgy.

    TURN OFF THE 'FOCUS ASSIST' LIGHT!
    If your camera can't focus without the little laser-light that shines in everyone's eyes before your camera takes a picture, then don't use your camera. You have to turn that light off! It is very distracting to be watching a lector or priest, and see a little red dot or lines pop up on his face all of the sudden. It's as if some rifleman is making his mark! Turn the light off (again, look in the menus for the option to turn off the 'AF assist' or 'focus assist' light). If you can't turn it off, put a piece of duct tape or some other opaque material over the area where the light is, so the light won't shine on someone.

    TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S LCD!
    You should never use the LCD to compose your shots anyways; just put your eye up to the viewfinder, and that will not only not distract, it will also steady your camera against your face, making for a better picture (especially if you don't have the flash on). And if you must review the pictures you've taken, hold the camera in front of you, down low, so people behind you don't notice the big, bright LCD display on your camera

    CERTAIN PARTS OF THE CEREMONY ARE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE
    The consecration (blessing) of the eucharist (bread and wine) and distribution of communion to the congregation are considered to be particularly sacred parts of the service, and it is offensive to photograph these activities.

    The main thing is to try to be respectful of the culture and of other people present at the service. Don't distract. And, if you are asked to not take pictures, or if there's a sign saying 'no photography allowed,' then don't take pictures. You can always ask a priest's permission before the liturgy, but if he says 'No,' put away your camera and enjoy the freedom you have to focus on the privilege of being able to share an experience with people who consider these religious rituals core to their culture and identity, rather than focusing on your camera's LCD!

    Homer's Rules ... Homer rules!

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Off The Beaten Path

  • Hill of the Mourgues

    When I first saw a sign pointing to the “Colline des Mourgues” I thought it meant The Hill of the Morgues – but of course that was only a silly Anglophone mistake.There isn’t any morgue on this hill, not even a cemetery. Even the so-called “Tomb of the Hermit” isn’t really a tomb, because the hermit in question was never actually buried here...

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  • Chapel Notre-Dame de Consolation

    This small chapel is at the top of the Hill of the Mourgues. Second and third photos: The inside walls of the chapel Notre-Dame de Consolation are covered by colorful frescos that were painted by the artist Albert Martin, who currently lives in Nîmes.Fourth photo: This plaque on the outside of the chapel reads:ChapelN-D de ConsolationFrescos...

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  • Gothic church on Place Saint-Marc

    In the center of Villeneuve lez Avignon, on Saint Mark’s Square, there is a Gothic church called Collégiale Notre-Dame.The church was built in 1330 by the cardinal Arnaud de Via, a nephew of Pope Jean XXII. Originally it was the chapel of a monastery founded by the cardinal.The monastery was disbanded during the French Revolution. At that time, the...

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Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Favorites

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 25, 2011

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    Favorite thing: I have no aspirations to be considered an intellectual - in fact, having spend five years in academia, this pretentious breed tend to irritate the living daylights out of me - so I have no shame whatsoever in offering up this superior 'bodice ripper' of a novel as recommended reading for your trip to Villeneuve!

    This book by the Scottish author Reay Tannahill is set in the early 15th century and traces the life of a young Scottish woman, Ninian Drummond, who has been raised in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon but returns to Scotland following an arranged marriage.

    Quite apart from being a cracking good yarn (and ideal airport reading), what I so enjoyed was the way that it depicted Villeneuve in a period decline following the collapse of the Avignon papacy, and the period of chaos exploited by the Routier brigands (see my tip on the monastery of Chartreuse du Val de Benediction).

    The other aspect that I find particularly interesting about this book is the medieval interdependence between Church and state, and the complex dance that was required from both parties to balance their conflicting - but inextricably linked - interests.

    Highly coloured, highly romanticised and high recommended reading!

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