Unexpected Modernism in Avignon, France

Last week my husband and I escaped Paris' gloomy skies for the sunny south of France. We started our trip in Avignon, a beautiful historic walled city. One day we wandered into a lovely 14th century hotel for lunch and were totally surprised by what we found inside!

The bar where we had lunch, 83.Vernet, on the main floor was chic and modern, but in a fairly typical way. What really impressed us was — wait for it — the bathrooms!

Just the journey from bar to bathrooms was pretty incredible, too. We walked past a hip lounge area and an amazing courtyard on our way up the original stone and wrought-iron staircase. There we reached the restrooms and marveled at how the architects managed to preserve the historic integrity of the space, while allowing for some totally modern bathrooms and vanities.

Instead of drilling through the 14th century stone walls or adding false walls in front of them to hide the plumbing, the architects floated a restroom volume in the middle of the room, bringing the plumbing up through the floor. The men's room was to the left, and the ladies to the right, but since each side had 2 separate bathrooms there was plenty of privacy (which is a rare thing in public restrooms in France—it isn't unusual to have urinals in full view of the ladies room).

It's fun to be surprised by a building or a room and the rest of Avignon did not disappoint. Kudos to the wonderful people who live and work there with an eye to the future, while carefully preserving their past.

Images: Bethany Adams