Located in Provence, Avignon’s major claim to fame is that it was the home of the breakaway Catholic popes between 1309 and 1417. This was a fascinating time within the Catholic church as the French popes broke away from Rome and set up their own headquarters in Avignon. At one time there were as many as three different popes reigning at the same time as they were busy denouncing and excommunicating each other. Meanwhile the Avignon popes, there were a total of nine successive ones, built an incredible palace for themselves. The Popes Palace in Avignon was, at one time, the largest structure in the Western world and these fellows spared no expense in building up a pretty nice little empire for themselves. With lavish surroundings and everything that goes with being royalty, in a word, “it was good to be pope.”
Avignon also is the home of the Pont d’Avignon bridge, a UNESCO world heritage sight that spans, at least a portion of, the Rhone River. The bridge was originally built in 1185 and now is the second most important attraction in Avignon.