Avignon is on the left bank of the Rhône river, about 580 km (360 mi) south-east of Paris, 229 km (142 mi) south of Lyon and 85 km (53 mi) north-north-west of Marseille.
The city teemed with activity and building as architects, builders, artists flocked to the town. At that time, within the city walls there were over 100 churches and chapels – many of which have been transformed since then into everything from shops to a movie theatre! The wealth and activity generated by the presence of the papacy spilled out into the region, so that even small villages nearby boast a rich architectural past.
The city walls (map), built by the popes in the 14th century and still encircle Avignon. They are one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence. The walls are of great strength and are surmounted by machicolated battlements flanked at intervals by 39 massive towers and pierced by several gateways, three of which date from the 14th century.
Calvet Museum (map), so named after Esprit Calvet, a physician who in 1810 left his collections to the town. It has a large collection of paintings, metalwork and other objects. The library has over 140,000 volumes.
Musée du Petit Palais (map) at the end of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes, has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy.