In 1309 Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, moved the papal court to Avignon where it stayed for 68 years. The Papal Palace was as much a fortress as a palace. Even after Pope Gregory XI moved the official papacy back to Rome there was a Western Schism which divided the Catholic world. From 1378-1417 a rival succession of popes, referred to as the antipopes, ruled from Avignon until an agreement was made to only have one pope, in Rome.
One of the best preserved Roman buildings in France is the coliseum in Arles. Built around the first century, the UNESCO World Heritage Site could accommodate 20,000 spectators. Miraculously, it is still in use today, for bull fights.
Viviers is a small walled town overlooking the Rhone and contains the smallest cathedral in France. From 430 AD forward for hundreds of years it played an important part in Catholic life. Many of the bishops who lived and worked there were elected into sainthood.
Lyon has over 100 murals painted on the walls of city buildings. Many artists have come together to create these astonishingly realistic slices of urban life.
The Doux Valley, near Tournon, has stunning views into a deep gorge cut out by the Doux River. A number of arched bridges dot the landscape.