I have always been intrigued by the unknown and the mysterious. I love the sense of adventure and excitement of not knowing what might be around the next corner when exploring unfamiliar places. This probably helps explain why old European cities are so appealing to me with their ancient alleys, cobblestone streets, and passageways that hold centuries of stories real and imagined. Each one begs to be explored.
Avignon is full of such places. Looking down an alley or passageway that disappears as the pathway curves around a building inspires the imagination. Avignon was home to the French popes and just across the Rhone the French king established an outpost in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon to keep an eye on the popes. Remember that the king and the pope where the heads of rival states competing for land, riches, power, and the hearts and minds of the people they ruled. I am sure more than a few deals, betrayals, and assassinations where carried out in these dark refuges.
Arles can claim an even longer history of political intrigue dating to the Romans. I am certain the small streets hosted not only political intrigue but romantic liaisons as well. Van Gogh wandered these alley ways and his mistress probably conducted business in a few of them as well. Young lovers found protection from prying eyes and wagging tongues in these dark recesses.
I feel safe in exploring these places in a way that I do not in America. One still must have some sense of caution but I generally feel safe in just wandering wherever my feet take me. The results have been amazing as I have stumbled into small squares, discovered churches, and viewed sights that are not in the guide books. The rewards are greater than the risks so let me encourage you to jump in. There is an unexplored world waiting for you.