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By Harriet O'Brien. Click here for 48 Hours In Avignon map. The capital of Christendom in the 14th century, Avignon remains a treasure trove of architecture. On 7 July, one of France's biggest art festivals starts here. The 64th Avignon Festival 00 33 4 90 14 14 60; festival-avignon. Taking place alongside it, Le Off is the city's answer to Edinburgh's Fringe: a bacchanalian mix of street theatre and shows July; 00 33 4 90 85 13 08; avignonleoff.
The writer travelled with Rail Europe ; raileurope. The station is just outside the ramparts, close to the centre. Avignon's Caumont airport, 8km from the centre, is served by Flybe ; flybe. Almost everything of interest is contained within the 4. South of the papal palace, Place de L'Horloge 5 is the hub of a maze of lanes and alleys.
Pick up a free Avignon Pass: after a first visit to a monument or museum, you get reductions to most other sights. This 16th-century mansion also has a well-regarded restaurant and a wonderful rooftop terrace.
Start at the top of Avignon's most charming lane, Rue des Teinturiers 10 , which contains four water wheels from the days of the city's calico dyers. Follow the lane to the city walls, turn left and left again into Rue Severine. Turn left up rue Thier and right into rue Paul Sain, which offers wonderful 17th- and 18th-century architecture.
Ahead are the great walls of the Palais des Papes 3. Turn left and right into Rue du Gal, continuing along Rue Vice-Legat to reach the back of the palace. Approaching the front is dramatic: the street passes between hewn rocks and under a massive archway for palace details see "Icing on the cake". Reaching the majestic forecourt you see the Petit Palais 11 ahead.