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Why I’m Heading Back to Avignon, France

Back To France

22 months. 22 months of uncertainty and worry, of hopes that were dashed, of plans that didn’t come true. 22 months of maybes and if onlys. 22 months of a feeling I ended up calling traveller’s despair. The gnawing fear that France, like the rest of the world, would change, that things and people wouldn’t be the same upon return. That the pandemic ruined it all for all of us. The thought had become unbearable. And then last autumn, navigating between variants and lockdowns, equipped with an essential health pass from the French Consulate, I managed to return to our beloved Provence. The following photos are memories of a trip that filled my heart with joy when I thought all joy was gone. Jumping from train to train, walking for miles and miles each day, waiting for buses to destinations yet to be discovered, trying to pack as many sights as possible in just two weeks… oh, you probably know the drill. Chances are you’ve been there yourself once or twice. And as you’re sitting at home at the beginning of yet another pandemic-ridden year, wondering, like I did, if things will ever be the same, rest assured that France hasn’t changed. The people are still lovely. The food is still full of flavour, and the wine still pours, cheap and delicious. And the Mediterranean sea breeze is still as sweet as you remember.

Part One: Avignon

View (above) over the Rhône River from Jardin des Doms, adjacent to the Popes’ Palace. Access to the beautiful gardens is free of charge and a recommended highlight of any visit to the city.

Place du Palais Avignon day Heading Back Avignon France

Place du Palais is a lovely square at the foot of the imposing Palais des Papes. It is surrounded by restaurants and outdoor cafés. A perfect place to take in the majestic view of the Popes’ Palace while sipping a glass of Rhône wine.

Palais des Papes at Night Heading Back Avignon France

The Pope’s Palace is the top tourist attraction in Avignon. Its magnificent architecture and rich history led to its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Avignon Old Town

Avignon’s Old Town is a mix of charming old buildings adorned with creaky shutters as well as modern shops and restaurants catering to every taste.

petit train Avignon

This is a familiar sight in most major French cities: Le Petit Train, transporting tourists to the most significant landmarks of Avignon. You can see the best of Avignon in 45 minutes and enjoy the audio commentary that gives you a brief introduction to the importance of the city in the history of the papacy and of France.

Heading Back Avignon France

Accommodations in Avignon vary from swanky hotels such as the 5-star Hotel de L’Europe to extremely affordable apartments you can rent in the Old Town for less than $100/night.

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Renata Haidle

Renata Haidle

Renata Haidle is a Romanian-American photographer, writer, and book author. She credits Paris for sparking her photography career after her first visit there in 2014. Her work has been shared by Google, Frommers, The London Evening Standard, The Resident London, France Today, and Taste of France, among others. She has been featured twice in Google Pixel digital installations: The Meadows at the Highline (NYC, May 2017), and The Radical Luxury exhibit at the Old Selfridge Hotel (London, May 2018).

Her first photo book, French Riviera, was published in July 2019. She is currently working on a Paris-inspired poetry collection.

Renata's work can be found at @renatahaidle on Instagram and Twitter and via her website.


  1. blank
    March 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm — Reply

    I feel your pain. I’m so anxious to travel. Soon I’ll be off to Europe after 700+ days of not traveling.

    • blank
      March 23, 2022 at 3:00 pm — Reply

      Fingers crossed you get back to Europe soon!

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