Anyone who visits Avignon will quickly see why it's such a raved-about port on France cruise itineraries. Nestled in the heart of France's Provence region, the small city is quaint and intimate, with a chic vibe. You'll find stone buildings with pastel-colored shutters, boutique shops and hotels, and lively little squares -- including Place de L'Horloge, a roughly 10-minute walk from the pier. It literally feels as if you've stepped foot inside a postcard from the South of France.
Looks aside, the "City of Popes" is rich in Roman Catholic history. Between 1309 to 1377, popes lived in Avignon instead of Rome, due to unstable political conditions at the time. Avignon is home to the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), the largest gothic palace in the world, and adjacent Notre-Dame des Doms Cathedral (known as the Avignon Cathedral).
Avignon is also conveniently located about an hour outside Marseille (which has the nearest, major international airport). This makes it a prime embarkation and disembarkation point for a number of river cruise lines. Heading there in July? Try to plan for a glimpse of the annual Festival d'Avignon, one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the world.