I recently received a request from a PlanetEye reader for some recommendations for good running paths around the city. Honestly, Avignon is more of a walking town and for locals that means walking slowly, if not meandering, in heels and espadrilles. The only runners I’ve seen here tend to be wearing University of Oregon T-shirts. But if you don’t mind the occasional look of horror from people who think nothing should be done in a rush, Avignon offers a variety of options for runners.
Start pounding the pavement (and avoiding the cobblestones) before 8:00 AM. You’ll find the normally crowded streets nearly empty and you’ll save yourself from the 95 degree heat that typically lasts until sunset. And just to feel a little bit more like the locals, why not load your iPod up with some French tunes? For great beats, mix in some Pierpoljak, High Tone, and Tiken Jah Fakoly.
- For a little taste of the quartiers d’Avignon, tour the ramparts. From Place d’Horloge head west down Rue St. Agricol. Stay straight until you get outside the city walls then turn north and follow the ramparts. Head back inside once you’ve passed the cliff at Palais des Papes and keep following the walls until you’ve come full-circle.
- Avignon’s generally a flat city, to add a hill climb to the above program start at the base of the winding road that leads to the Jardin des Doms, for a panoramic view of the Rhone Valley. In the northwest corner of the park take the stairs to the only section of the walls visitors can actually set foot on. Watch your step on the spiral staircase leading down to the street and then turn right to pick up the wall tour again.
- Take the free ferry just north of the Pont St. Benezet (Pont d’Avignon) to access the Ile Barthelasse. From the ferry station head north for a mountain bike trail that follows the river leading to a neverending apple orchard. Follow the Green triangles marked VTT.
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