Villeneuve lez Avignon

Welcome to Southern France, where the end of April looks like late June… Balm for a winter-weary New Englander’s soul!

Across the river from Avignon, home of the papal court in-exile in the 14th century, lies Villeneuve lez Avignon – our Easter weekend retreat for this year. Our hotel – that’s the old front door in the photo – is the former priests’ residence for an adjacent church, also built in the early 1300’s.

Calm and serene, the gardens envelope you on arrival. The columned arcade would have once looked out on the priest’s jardin de curé, a garden of healing herbs.

In that space today, a knot garden pays tribute to the past. Small hedges artfully divide the space into separate beds, where bright flowers mix with culinary herbs.

The design of the garden harkens-back to those long-ago priests. Instead of boxwood, they’d have used dense herbs, like germander, rosemary, or sweet-scented myrtle to delineate the boundaries of the planting beds.

Though many of the plants in this garden were unknown in the days of the priests – and others would have been deemed ‘useless’ – rosemary, lavender, sage and roses would have been present, without doubt. We might think of them simply as tasty ingredients or lovely flowers, but they were once the basis of all medicine.

A white pigeon sits above a door.

We can pretend he’s an Easter dove…

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5 thoughts on “Villeneuve lez Avignon

  1. We were in Avignon for several days. Our hotel was near the Palace of the Popes and an unfinished bridge. We stayed in Avignon but visited other towns, like Arel and Axe. Our visit there was a good few days.
    Lots of news on the world front today, hope you are getting it!!! Jody got a great picture of him with all the kids in Boston.
    Nana is better and talking about making the trip.
    See you soon!!

    • I remember that you visited the region when you were here. We did the Palais on a one-day trip about 5 years ago, so we didn’t do that one again.

      The flowers in the header are from a little public garden here in Paris… I wish the ones at home were that far along!

  2. I especially love your Europe posts…..you have such a feel for the place and really bring it to life with pictures and words.

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