The Festival d’Avignon has been taking place around July since it was founded in 1947.
My cousins and I drove to Avignon from Arles. Parking and traffic was kinda crazy but I’m used to NYC traffic and parking so it wasn’t really that bad. There are plenty of ways to get to Avignon but since we had a car we took advantage of it. It’s a large city so high speed trains, or TGV trains, stop here. You can even take a TGV train to and from Avignon straight to the Paris airports. There are plenty of more local trains and busses that go to Avignon as well.
I had been to Avignon the year before and this time it was a completely different town. There were people performing parts of their shows in the streets. People were singing and dancing and doing mini scenes. There was music playing and people break dancing and doing tricks. Fliers for shows covered street posts and were being handed out left and right.
The first thing we really wanted to see was the Palais de Papes. For many years this was a second home for the popes. For a while there were two popes and an argument over which was the real one. This Palais became home to the popes in 1309 when a French man was elected pope and he was unwilling to face the violent chaos of Rome after his election. In 1377 the popes decided to move back to Rome, but not everyone agreed that Rome was the rightful home for the popes and a “Papal Schism” occurred. There were 2 antipopes that continued to claim they were the real popes and continued to live in Avignon while there was another pope, claiming to be the real one, in Rome. Eventually the church decided the real pope was in Rome. This was called the Papal schism. You can read more about it in my post ‘Avignon Bridge and Palais de Papes’.
We wanted a good view of the famous Avignon bridge. We walked up the hill around the side of the Palais to the garden. This is an amazing place to view the river and the Bridge.
After some quick pictures we had to run to the show we were seeing. Since none of us are fluent in French one of my cousins found us a show with only a few words, a lot of music and a great deal of comedy.
The show was called “Nouva Barberia Carloni”. It was about three barbers, who were also dentists like many back in the day, who were trying to get customers. After some tricks, acrobatics and a lot of music, they pulled two people from the audience with the promise one of them would get a free haircut. By the end they had sprayed everyone with water. They had to help the audience member out of a very high barber chair and waited patiently for him to pay them. It was a great show and one of the Barbers was waiting outside with shaving cream just in case anyone needed a shave.
We had made a reservation at one of my favorite Avignon restaurants, La Cuisine du Dimanche.
The couple who run the restaurant, Mathieu, also the head chef, and Pauline, remembered me from the last time I was there. My cousins and I share a grandmother named Pauline and the way my name is spelled is French for ‘I love’. These unusual details both factored into their reason for remembering me. We had a fantastic meal that ended with one of my favorite desserts, Ille Flotante. The Floating Island. This is an island of meringue floating in a sea of English cream, drizzled with caramel and shaved almonds. Mathieu makes one of the best I have ever had.
We saw a lot of dogs and a few late-night break dancers on our way back to our car. It was the perfect end to the night.