Travels in France, Part Two

Josephine’s boudoir in Malmaison

Pat here. I will attempt to stop drooling over French food this time and dive into a few of the historical places I actually went to see. (that’s a lie. I went for the wine and cheese but Josephine’s boudoir is worthy of a gawk or two)

Avignon papal palace
Papal Palace of Avignon

Our first major stop was Avignon and the pope’s palace. The original palace was begun in 1252 so the king of France could install his own pope. Later, as the political conflict in Rome became more violent, (really, one would think clergy would behave better) Clement V, of Gascony, fled there in 1309. Clement lived with the monks, but by the time Pope Benedict XII came along, the old building wasn’t sufficient for his safety. He began reconstruction of the old palace into a fortress with a cloister around 1334.

model of Papal Palace in Avignon
model of Papal Palace in Avignon

After 1342, under the next popes, an even grander palace grew on the site, taking almost the entirety of the papal budget. The conflicts in the church did not end when Gregory XI returned to Rome, ending the Avignon Papacy in 1377. The pope’s Avignon retreat was finally besieged in 1398 by antipapal forces. Eventually, as all things do, the palace deteriorated. In 1791, it was the scene of a massacre of counter-revolutionaries, whose bodies were thrown into the latrines. Much of what we see today is a restoration that has been going on since 1906. So much history in one magnificent building! This is why it’s impossible to blog about my travels. I dive down bunny holes.

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