There is no better way to learn a city than by wandering on foot and noting your surroundings—even if that means getting lost.

Picnics on the island in the Rhone River are a weekly occurrence for my study abroad group. A ferry boat runs constantly for most of the day, expect for a two hour lunch break. This lunch break that most of France takes has given me trouble before, like when I tried to buy a quiche for lunch but all the stores were closed (strange, right?!).

Knowing the ferry wouldn’t be working, my friend and I headed slightly more to the west in hopes of finding the path that leads to the bridge. Nothing looked familiar. We had not been anywhere near those streets before, and yet we were both kind of following the other.

In all honesty, you can’t go wrong. Avignon is a walled city, so eventually we would hit a wall, find a door out, and just follow along the outside of the wall to the bridge. And we did, but along the way we were pleasantly surprised by the sites. There were stores we had never entered, colorful shutters with ivy and flowers hanging over railings, museums, and more. Everything was, naturally, similar to the parts of Avignon we had always seen, but the little changes made enough of a difference to stop taking our surroundings for granted and truly note the small details.

After being in Avignon for two months, we thought we knew the city pretty well, but I realized we never really explored west of the main road, Rue de la République. By getting lost and using intuition to fumble in the right direction, we saw beautiful parts of the city we had always overlooked and we gained a better understanding of how to get around the crazy, ancient streets of Avignon.