In the realm of Christendom, the Pope is recognized as the central authority. While it’s commonly believed that the Pope has always resided in Rome, specifically in the Vatican, this isn’t entirely accurate.
In fact, there were seven consecutive Popes who made their home in Avignon, France. This historical fact makes Avignon an intriguing destination for those seeking to discover a part the rich history of France.
But you might wonder, is Avignon truly worth the trip? In this article, you’ll uncover several compelling reasons to visit Avignon, ranging from captivating tourist attractions to enriching experiences that await you in this charming city.
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Important: This article also provides useful information for visiting Avignon’s attractions. If you decide to visit Avignon, you can use this article as your guide.
But before anything, let me introduce you to Avignon very well first.
To me, Avignon is one of France’s most special towns. It is the only place in the country to have a unique character that is shaped by its papal history.
In the 14th century, Avignon served as the papal residence, leaving an indelible mark on its cultural and architectural landscape. The Papal Palace, stands as a symbol of Avignon’s historical significance, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the grandeur of the papal court.
With a blend of rich history and beautiful old-world architecture, as in other quaint places in France, wandering in Avignon is like stepping back in time. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur région, Avignon is a gem in the area known as the ‘South of France’ – the most beautiful region in France.
I believe you’ll agree that it is a gem once you discover its fascinating attractions that I’ll share shortly.
Avignon, connected to France’s high-speed railway, is a destination you can quickly add on your South of France itinerary. If you’re coming from Paris or Lyon, you can reach Avignon in approximately 2.5 hours or 1 hour using high-speed trains, respectively.
Avignon is also in a strategic location, just an hour or two away from other stunning destinations. As a home base, it can be ideal for maximizing your trip in the South of France. From Avignon, you can quickly explore romantic quaint villages, pristine beaches, and stylish seaside getaways.
During my exploration of Avignon, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it offers more than just historical attractions in the South of France. Avignon boasts scenic views and two UNESCO sites waiting to be explored and there’s more.
You can check the best attractions and things to do in Avignon (tours and guides) here. And if you need an accommodation, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in Avignon.
#1 Palais des Papes
If you ask me, the best part about visiting Avignon is getting lost in its rich historical heritage. It’s like peeling back the layers of time and discovering the stories that made this place the epicenter of western Christendom.
If you’re looking to dive deep into Avignon’s history, there’s no better place than the Palais des Papes. But even if history isn’t your thing, the palace is worth a visit. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not every day you get to see the largest Gothic palace in Europe! Covering a whopping 160,000 square feet, it’s definitely a bucket list destination.
Can you imagine how big it is?
Did you know that the Palais des Papes was both a fortress and a home for the popes? It all started back in 1309 when Pope Clement V decided to move away from the chaos in Rome and set up shop in Avignon. Today, it’s not just a piece of history, but a major tourist hotspot in southern France, attracting over half-a-million visitors each year.
With more than 25 rooms open for exploration, a visit to the Palais des Papes is like a journey back in time. You can roam around chapels, banquet rooms, private apartments, and even rooftop terraces, immersing yourself in the era of the Avignon Papacy.
Even though some rooms are empty, you’ll be given a ‘Histopad’, an augmented reality tablet that helps you visualize their former grandeur. Plus, kids will have a blast with a treasure hunting game on the Histopad.
When you’re exploring the Palais des Papes, there are a few rooms that really stand out. Take the Stag Room, the pope’s private chambers, and the chapels, for example. What makes them so special? It’s their medieval frescoes. They’re like a window to the past, showing us the elegance that once filled the palace.
Some of these frescoes were even painted by the Italian artist Matteo Giovanetti, featuring Christian saints, biblical scenes, and glimpses into the daily lives of noblemen. The Stag Room is a particular highlight with its frescoes of people hunting in the woods.
Thinking about visiting the Palais des Papes? It’s open all year round, so you can plan your visit anytime. The opening hours do change depending on the month, but generally, you can expect to be able to tour the palace from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. And if you’re worried about language barriers, don’t be — they offer tours in different languages.
The Palais des Papes is a must-see if you’re into history, but you know what else should be on your list? The Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims. It’s not just a cathedral, it’s the very place where the kings of France were crowned. And let’s not forget about its stunning architecture – it’s truly epic!
#2 Remparts d’Avignon
I’m a huge fan of medieval movies and series. You know those intense battles of swords and arrows that usually happen on the city walls? They’re my favorite scenes!
And if you’re looking for a place in Avignon that can transport you back to those times, it’s got to be the medieval walls. Avignon’s walls have been beautifully restored and are a sight to behold. Definitely a reason to visit!
Can you see it in your mind’s eye? Hundreds of archers standing on the ramparts, releasing a volley of arrows into the sky. Or maybe even dragons, breathing fire and perched on the turrets. Thanks to Avignon’s well-preserved medieval walls, these epic scenes can come to life in your imagination.
These walls were just as important as the Palais des Papes, providing protection for the popes and the people of Avignon. And don’t let the photos fool you – these walls might look small, but they actually average a height of 8 meters. That’s nearly five times the height of an average person!
Avignon is one of the only towns in France where you can still see the original medieval walls. But if you’re a real history buff, you might want to visit Carcassonne in the South of France – their medieval walls are something else! Avignon’s medieval wall is over 4 kilometers long — that’s a whole kilometer longer than Carcassonne’s.
Avignon’s medieval walls have been standing strong since the 13th century. They’ve protected the city from everything — floods from the Rhone river, invaders, heretics, and even plagues. When you step out of the town’s train station, they’re the first thing you’ll see. Just follow the paved pathway beside the wall and you’ll get a full view of this impressive structure.
While it would be amazing to walk the entire loop of Avignon’s ramparts, unfortunately, that’s not possible. Only a short stretch is accessible to visitors. You can start your journey at the Pont d’Avignon and make your way to the Jardin des Doms, the park located north of the Palais des Papes and Avignon Cathedral.
Fun Fact! If Avignon used the walls for protection, Strasbourg (another city in eastern France) used the river surrounding its old town as a giant moat to keep their enemies out.
#3 Jardin des Doms
Whenever I visit a city, there’s one place I always seek out — the scenic spot. You know, that one place where you can see the whole town spread out below you. In Avignon, that place is the Jardin des Doms.
There’s something about looking down on a city that really puts things into perspective. It makes you realize how small we are in the grand scheme of things, how vast the world is, and how many places there are left to explore. It’s a view that never fails to ignite my wanderlust. That’s why, for me, a visit to Avignon wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Jardin des Doms.
Imagine ending a day of sightseeing in Avignon at the Jardin des Doms. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and take in the beauty of the city. And if you’re there with your partner, it gets even better. You can spend hours just hanging out, watching the sunset paint the old town in warm hues.
And did I mention there’s a lovely café-buvette right in the park? It’s these little moments that make Jardin des Doms a must-visit when you’re in Avignon.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
Picture yourself at the café-buvette in Jardin des Doms, chatting about the wonderful experiences you’ve had in Avignon. You’re surrounded by trees, and there’s a pond nearby where swans and ducks like to hang out. The soft sound of a small fountain in the background completes the peaceful scene. It’s a simple pleasure, but one that can make your time in Avignon even more memorable.
If you’re a photographer who loves capturing cityscapes or landscapes, Jardin des Doms is a goldmine. It offers some of the best views for photographing the Saint-Bénézet bridge, one of Avignon’s most famous landmarks.
From the park, you can capture a stunning panorama that includes the Rhone River, Palais des Papes, and pretty much the entire old town of Avignon. And let’s not forget about the distant mountains and hills like Mont Ventoux, Luberon, Vaucluse plateau, and Alpilles. It’s a view that’s sure to take your breath away.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
From Jardin des Doms, you can spot the Tour Philippe le Bel and Fort Saint André, two of Avignon’s other fortifications located across the Rhone river.
Fancy a bit more history and some stunning views? Make sure to visit them and climb up to their viewing decks. And while you’re at Jardin des Doms, don’t forget to check out the Rocher des Doms. It’s a popular spot for leisure today, but it’s also steeped in history and archaeological significance.
Did you know that the Rocher des Doms has been a home to people since the neolithic age? That’s right, centuries ago, they found out that this place has been inhabited for thousands of years. The proof? An excavated anthropomorphic stele known as ‘the oldest man in Avignon’. It’s believed that the early inhabitants chose this elevated location as a refuge from the floods caused by the Rhone river.
Can you imagine how many generations of humans have lived here?
#4 Pont d’Avignon
Speaking of breathtaking scenery. Do you know what can perfectly depict the prominence of Avignon during the middle ages? The view of the old town from the Saint Benezet’s Bridge. The bridge is also called Pont d’Avignon, and it’s a reason to visit Avignon.
Pont d’Avignon is one of the most famous medieval bridges in France. It was made famous by the traditional French song “ Sur le Pont d’Avignon” in the 15th century.
The first time I heard the song? It was when I was researching the bridge. The tune is pretty catchy, I must admit. If you’re in Avignon with your partner, why not have a little fun and sing along as you walk across the bridge?
The song has been passed down through generations for over five centuries. Nowadays, it’s mostly sung by school kids, who probably have no idea that the bridge in the song is over 800 years old!
Yep, Pont d’Avignon has been around since the 12th century. It wasn’t always the stone structure we see today, though. Originally, it was made of wood. But in 1234, they started renovations and transformed it into a stone bridge with 22 arches.
Over time, the Rhone River flooded and damaged the bridge multiple times. The cost of repairs was so high that eventually, the people of Avignon decided to abandon it. It used to connect the city center to the Tour Philippe le Bel on the other side of the river, but now only 4 of its original 22 arches are still standing.
Saint Benezet’s Bridge is a reason to visit Avignon because it is a historic bridge. Can you believe it was once the only route from Lyon and other central French cities to the Mediterranean sea? And let’s not forget about the views. From the bridge, you can get an amazing look at Avignon’s city walls and the Palais des Papes.
But what really makes it special is knowing that you’re walking in the footsteps of merchants, ordinary citizens, kings, popes, and even crusaders. It’s pretty cool to think that you’re standing in the same spot where these notable figures once stood.
With the sound of the flowing Rhone river, you can also spend some time relaxing while discovering the bridge’s history.
As you unwind, you can delve into the bridge’s history through panel boards or audio guides. And thanks to the histopad, you can see what the bridge looked like in its heyday through augmented reality! The bridge is open daily, but keep in mind that the opening hours vary by season. Last I checked, it’s usually accessible from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm.
Check the official website of Pont d’Avignon for all the details, including the tours and package deals.
#5 Churches in Avignon
Given that Avignon was once the residence of the popes, it’s no surprise that the town is rich in religious heritage sites.
These sites come in various forms and their architecture alone can be a reason to visit Avignon. You’ll find numerous churches and chapels both within and outside the town’s historic center. While not all of them may be visually stunning, there are certainly churches in Avignon that feature elements of artistic beauty.
Like most beautiful European cities, visiting Avignon can feel like seeing an open-air museum.
Why? Because of the architecture of its religious heritage sites. Even the smallest chapels in town have their own unique charm. Take the 16th-century Penitents Noirs Chapel, for example. Despite its size, the chapel’s Renaissance-style facade, adorned with relief sculptures, is sure to catch the eye of any explorer.
The Chapel of the Penitents Gris is another gem, boasting architectural styles from the 16th to 19th centuries. The Basilica of Saint Peter and the Avignon Cathedral are also impressive in their own right. However, if you’ve traveled extensively in Europe, you might want to manage your expectations.
Because, although the churches in Avignon are indeed beautiful, they may not quite match the grandeur of the renowned churches in Vatican/Rome. Considering the historical significance of both Avignon and Rome as centers of the Western Christian world, it’s understandable why Rome’s churches might appear more impressive.
Among Avignon’s religious structures, the Basilica of Saint Peter stands out with its intricate facade, particularly the beautifully carved walnut doors that date back to the Renaissance. Inside, you’ll find more exquisite woodwork and fresco decorations, including the “Worship of Shepherds” by Simon de Chalons.
Avignon Cathedral has more modest decorations on its facade, but marvelous artworks await visitors inside. The highlight is undoubtedly the chapel or mausoleum of Pope John XXII, adorned with frescoes from floor to ceiling.
Located within the square of Palais des Papes, the cathedral sits on an elevated area, offering a panoramic view of the western side of Avignon’s old town. It’s a sight that’s well worth the visit.
#6 Museums in Avignon
If you’re the type of traveler who loves to dive into the art, culture, and history of the places you visit, then Avignon won’t disappoint.
Sure, there’s the Palais des Papes and Pont d’Avignon, but there’s so much more to discover in this town. Avignon is home to a number of museums with unique collections that could be your reason to visit. And the best part? Entrance to the city’s museums is free! Here are five museums in town that you can visit without spending a penny:
- The Natural History Museum (Requien Museum)
- Calvet Museum
- Center for Provencal Culture (Palais du Roure)
- Lapidary Museum
- Petit Palais Museum
You can click their names to see precisely where these museums are in Avignon.
If you find yourself at the Palais des Papes, the Petit Palais Museum is just a stone’s throw away. Located to the west of Jardin des Doms and north of Place du Palais, it’s a mere one-minute walk from the Avignon Cathedral.
The Petit Palais Museum is a treasure trove of Provencal and Italian paintings from the 13th to 16th centuries, housing over a thousand artworks. These pieces were collected by renowned art collector Giampietro Campana and include regional Gothic and Romanesque sculptures. The museum itself is an architectural gem, with the Baroque-style Lapidary Museum boasting an intricately adorned facade.
Inside, you’ll discover a wealth of sculptures of Greek, Roman, Gallo-roman, Etruscan and Paleochristian origin, some dating back to as early as the 4th century BC. As you wander through the museum, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time, especially when you come across statues such as Athena, Two-headed Hermes, and the urn of Marcus Domitius.
Another museum in Avignon you can visit is the Calvet Museum.
It’s the main hub for fine arts in the city, with a diverse collection of artworks from the 15th to 20th centuries. What’s more, the museum itself is an architectural marvel, housed in an 18th-century mansion. So, not only do you get to see a wide array of impressive sculptures and other artworks, but you also get to experience the grandeur of the mansion itself.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in local art, the Calvet Museum is your go-to destination. It proudly showcases the School of Avignon, offering a glimpse into the city’s artistic prowess. From Renaissance masterpieces to works from the French Revolution era, it’s a journey through time.
The Petit Palais Museum, Calvet Museum, and Lapidary Museum are my top three picks in Avignon. They’re open throughout the year, except for holidays on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
- Petit Palais Museum – closed every Tuesday (official website: petit-palais.org)
- Calvet Museum – closed every Monday (official website: musee-calvet.org)
- Lapidary Museum – closed every Monday (official website: musee-lapidaire.org)
#7 The Festival d’Avignon
Every year, Avignon undergoes a magical transformation from a historical heritage site into a grand theater for the Festival d’Avignon, one of the world’s premier arts festivals. As the oldest of its kind in France, the festival, founded by Jean Vilar in 1947, adds another layer of allure to Avignon.
What’s truly captivating about the Festival d’Avignon is its origin story. It didn’t start in any modern square or theater, but right in the heart of Avignon’s historic center – the Palais des Papes. Over the decades, the festival has expanded beyond these ancient walls to encompass the entire city. In recent years, other remarkable historical sites in Avignon have also played host to film screenings, exhibits, performances, and much more.
The Festival d’Avignon takes place every July and lasts for three weeks. Performers and art lovers from various places and countries come together to celebrate, promote, and enjoy art. Thousands of people participate in the festival’s 800 hours of artistic events.
On average, the Festival d’Avignon offers approximately 450 events and 50 shows in 23 venues around the town. Each year, event organizers accommodate around 130,000 admissions. Some are offered for free. Yes, that’s great news for budget travelers like me.
You can check the official website of Festival d’Avignon to learn more about the festival. This year’s program of events is posted in it, its participants, and all you need to know.
#8 National Parks Near Avignon
The South of France is known for having some of the country’s most beautiful natural features. It offers a variety—from romantic beaches to breathtaking cliffs, picturesque lavender fields, stunning gorges, caves, rock formations, and much more.
Nestled in the heart of southern France, Avignon serves as a gateway to some of the country’s most stunning natural attractions. A visit to Avignon places you just an hour’s drive away from the most picturesque, relaxing, and spectacular spots in the South of France.
And when I say “most,” I truly mean it! Incredibly, within an hour from Avignon, you can find yourself exploring not one, but three natural regional parks: Camargue, Alpilles, and Luberon. So, if you’re a history buff who also loves nature, Avignon’s proximity to these attractions makes it a must-visit destination.
They aren’t just about natural landscapes, it’s also a haven for wildlife! Take the Camargue Natural Regional Park, for instance. This park is a sanctuary for white horses, flamingoes, and miniature black bulls — the very creatures that Camargue is renowned for.
Located to the south of Avignon, this park is where the Rhone river meanders its way to the Mediterranean sea. It’s a lush marshland teeming with fresh water and vegetation, creating a thriving habitat for wildlife. And let’s not forget the pink salt lakes — they’re a sight to behold!
Between Avignon and the Camargue Natural Regional Park is the Alpilles Natural Regional Park. Despite being one of the smallest in France, it offers a unique blend of wildlife, natural beauty, and history.
The park is a testament to 4,000 years of civilization, with archaeological sites and local rural heritage scattered throughout its olive groves and orchards. And for the adventurous, there’s even rock climbing on offer. So, while it may be small in size, Alpilles Natural Regional Park is certainly big on experiences.
The park is dotted with old farmhouses, windmills, ancient chapels, arches, and towers that are sure to pique your curiosity. These remnants of the past will likely stimulate your imagination as you envision life in the region during bygone eras. Set in a mountainous region, the Alpilles Natural Regional Park promises awe-inspiring vistas at every turn.
For travelers seeking to snap photos at some of the South of France’s most photogenic spots, Avignon is an ideal starting point. A short drive to the west will take you to Luberon Natural Regional Park – famed for its Senanque Abbey, Village des Bories, and Grottes de Thouzon.
#9 Charming villages Near Avignon
In addition to its stunning natural attractions, Avignon is also surrounded by charming villages that make for perfect day trips. These destinations are sure to satisfy the wanderlust of avid travelers and shutterbugs alike.
While it may take an hour or two to drive from Avignon to these villages, don’t let the travel time deter you. The journey is part of the adventure, and the picturesque scenery along the way will make the time fly by!
The journey from Avignon to the picturesque towns in the South of France, particularly in the Luberon area, is a visual treat. The panoramic views along the way ensure that the fun begins even before you reach your destination. So, if you’re a fan of scenic drives and quaint villages, Avignon should definitely be on your travel list.
I’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful villages in the South of France and the three closest to Avignon are Aigues Mortes, Gordes, and Moustiers Sainte Marie.
What makes these villages ideal for day trips from Avignon? It’s all about their location. Nestled in the South of France, these villages are situated within the natural parks we discussed earlier, offering a day trip experience that’s rich and diverse. Let’s delve into a brief overview of Aigues Mortes, Gordes, and Moustiers Sainte Marie to give you a better idea.
First on the list of the best day trips from Avignon is the walled town of Aigues Mortes.
Known for its medieval walls, this town is located in the Camargue region. Unlike Avignon, you can take a complete walk around Aigues Mortes on its ramparts. This stroll takes you past the town’s gates and towers, which house exhibits about the town’s history. From the ramparts, you’re treated to spectacular views of the nearby pink salt lakes and the expansive marshlands of Camargue.
While Aigues Mortes provides panoramic views of the Camargue Regional Natural Park, the village of Gordes offers a sweeping vista of the Luberon Regional Natural Park.
The scenic roads leading to Gordes are a visual treat in themselves. Gordes, a preserved medieval village perched on a hilltop, dates back to the early 11th century and offers breathtaking views at every turn. Its quaint narrow lanes and exquisite wines are sure to delight both your eyes and taste buds. The hillside restaurants and hotels in Gordes could be the romantic getaway you’ve been dreaming of.
Among the villages in the South of France, Gordes is closest to the world’s most Instagrammed abbey, the Senanque Abbey. The abbey’s lavender field is one of those places in the South of France that’s simply too beautiful not to photograph. The view is nothing short of magical!
If you happen to be in Avignon during the lavender blooming season, which typically runs from mid-June to mid-August, you might want to consider a day trip to the enchanting village of Moustiers Sainte Marie.
Located further east than Gordes, it’s about a two-hour drive from Avignon. But don’t let the distance deter you — the route to Moustiers Sainte Marie is a journey through a landscape blanketed in lavender, offering one of the most magical scenes in the South of France.
But Moustiers Sainte Marie is more than just lavender fields. This preserved village, with roots dating back to the 5th century, nestles at the foot of a limestone mountain. The combination of quaint houses and the dramatic mountain backdrop creates a sight that’s truly unforgettable.
Discover more beautiful villages in the South of France:
- Eze: a medieval village with a cactus garden, a terrace and a sea view
- Rocamadour: a pilgrimage site with a cliff, a basilica, chapels and a Black Madonna
- Carcassonne: a medieval town with a citadel, walls, cathedral and turrets
- Chamonix: a ski resort with Mont Blanc, scenery, activities, museums and events
- Domme: a bastide town with a view, a church, a cave and a museum of torture
- Saint Paul De Vence: an artistic village with painters, writers, celebrities, galleries, museums and monuments
- Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: a beautiful village with a cliff, a river, houses, streets, balconies and workshops
#10 Pont du Gard
Last but certainly not least on the list of reasons to visit Avignon is the iconic Pont du Gard. If you’re planning a trip to Avignon, this bridge is an absolute must-see. As a UNESCO heritage site located just a short 30-minute drive from Avignon, the Pont du Gard offers a glimpse into the architectural marvels of yesteryears.
The Pont du Gard might not be in Avignon itself, but it’s a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the South of France. Its close location to Avignon makes it an ideal day trip destination. So, when you’re considering a visit to Avignon, remember that the nearby Pont du Gard adds another layer of appeal to your journey.
So, what makes Pont du Gard worth it?
In addition to its status as a UNESCO heritage site, the Pont du Gard holds the distinction of being the tallest Roman aqueduct bridge. It’s also one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture and engineering. The awe-inspiring structure of the Pont du Gard has captivated people for centuries, including notable figures like King Charles IX in the 16th century.
Constructed primarily from shelly limestone using early civil engineering techniques, it’s remarkable that the Pont du Gard still stands today. Dating back to the first century, this nearly two-millennia-old structure serves as a testament to Roman ingenuity for all who visit.
The Pont du Gard is a towering structure, standing at a height of 48.8 m (160 ft) and featuring three tiers of arches, each with varying lengths. From the highest to the lowest tier, the lengths are 275 m (902 ft), 242 m (794 ft), and 142 m (466 ft) respectively. It’s hard to believe, but over 50,000 tons of materials were used in its construction!
What makes a visit to the Pont du Gard even more exciting is that you can not only admire its exterior but also explore its interior. The aqueduct even houses its own museum, offering insights into the history of the Pont du Gard and related topics.
Are you a nature lover? Pont du Gard offers hiking trails that boast stunning views of the Roman aqueduct. And that’s not all! During the summer, the area around Pont du Gard transforms into a haven for relaxation and leisure. So why not join in for a day of all-round enjoyment?
Pont du Gard is open from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm from January to March, and from 9:00 am to midnight from April to December. You can learn all necessary visiting information from the official website of Pont du Gard.
When to Visit Avignon
If Avignon has piqued your interest, I have some tips for your visit to this beautiful city. First things first, let’s tackle the question: “When should you visit Avignon?”
Regarding the weather, the ideal time to visit Avignon, France, is typically from April to October. During these months, you can expect pleasant weather, with July and August being the warmest.
You can expect plenty of sunshine during this time, making it ideal for exploring the city’s historic sites, gardens, and scenic viewpoints. The pleasant weather encourages leisurely walks and outdoor dining.
However, it’s worth noting that the rainiest period falls in October and November. Also, many of Avignon’s major festivals and events take place during the summer months.
Remember, the Avignon Festival, one of the most famous theater festivals in the world, is held in July, attracting artists and visitors from around the globe. This is a unique opportunity to experience the vibrant arts and culture scene in the city.
Also to keep in mind: Avignon is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including vineyards and lavender fields. April to October is an excellent time to embark on scenic drives and day trips to explore the beautiful Provence region. The lavender season in the South of France typically peaks in June and July.
How Long to Stay in Avignon
Planning your stay in Avignon is all about tailoring your visit to your preferences and interests. However, it’s good to know that you can already see most of Avignon in 2 to 3 days.
Here’s a breakdown of suggested durations for your trip:
If you’re short on time, a day in Avignon allows you to explore the city’s main historic attractions like the iconic Pope’s Palace, the scenic gardens, and the Pont d’Avignon.
Extending your stay to two days opens up more possibilities. Take a leisurely walk along the city’s historic ramparts, visit Pond du Gard, and make time for a museum visit to delve deeper into Avignon’s culture and history.
With three days at your disposal, you can extend your trip outside Avignon – have a day trip! Consider a day trip to a Rhône vineyard for wine tasting, explore the captivating hilltop villages, or venture to the nearby charming villages.
How to Get to Avignon
As for the best way to get to Avignon, it really depends on where you’re coming from and what your travel style is. But generally speaking, taking the train is usually a pretty solid choice. It’s fast, convenient, and you’ll get some great views along the way! Here are some options for you.
Avignon is serviced by a small airport with seasonal flights from select European cities. To find detailed flight information, you can visit the official Avignon Airport website.
If you’re looking for more extensive flight options, Marseille Airport is your best choice. It’s the nearest international airport to Avignon, located approximately 80 km (50 miles) away. Marseille Airport offers connections to numerous European and international destinations.
From there, you have the convenience of taking a one-hour train or bus ride to reach Avignon.
Traveling by train to Avignon offers convenience and accessibility. Avignon has two train stations:
- Avignon Center: Located in the heart of the city, this station serves regional trains, making it a convenient choice for exploring nearby destinations.
- Avignon TGV: Situated just outside the city, this station caters to high-speed trains (TGV) connecting Avignon to major cities across France and Europe. For instance, you can reach Avignon from Paris in a swift 2 hours and 40 minutes, from Lyon in just 1 hour, or from Barcelona in approximately 4 hours.
To plan your train journey, you can refer to the official website of SNCF, the French national railway company, for timetables and fare information.
If you arrive at Avignon TGV and need to reach Avignon Center, you have multiple transportation options available, including a shuttle train, bus, or taxi. This short journey typically takes around 10 minutes, ensuring a seamless transition to the city center.
Avignon is well-connected by bus, offering travelers an economical and comfortable option for reaching the city from various locations in France and Europe.
Several reputable bus companies, including Flixbus and Blablabus, operate services to Avignon. The primary bus station in Avignon is conveniently situated near the city center, adjacent to the historic city walls.
Upon arrival, you can easily access your final destination by either walking or utilizing the city’s public transportation network.
If you prefer to drive to Avignon, you can use the motorway network that links Avignon to other cities in France and Europe.
The main motorways that pass near Avignon are A7 (from Lyon to Marseille), A9 (from Montpellier to Spain), and A54 (from Nimes to Italy). You can find parking spaces in and around the city center, but be aware that they might be expensive and limited.
You can check the official website of Avignon Tourism for more information on parking.
Where to Stay in Avignon
Choosing the perfect accommodation in Avignon hinges on your personal preferences and travel plans. Nevertheless, if you’re seeking an immersive experience steeped in Avignon’s charm and culture, I highly recommend staying in the Old Town.
This central location ensures proximity to a plethora of attractions and provides an array of choices to make the most of your visit. Here are my takes when selecting what areas and neighborhoods to stay in Avignon.
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The Old Town
The Old Town stands out as the favored and practical choice for accommodations in Avignon. It boasts proximity to key attractions like the Palais des Papes, the Pont d’Avignon, and the Place de l’Horloge.
Within this district, you’ll discover a variety of charming lodgings, from budget-friendly to upscale hotels, guesthouses, and apartments. Moreover, the Old Town abounds with dining establishments, cafes, shops, and vibrant nightlife options.
It’s important to note, however, that during peak season, particularly in July when the renowned Festival d’Avignon is in full swing, this area can become crowded, lively, and relatively costly.
Near TGV Station
If you’re arriving or departing by train, considering accommodation near the TGV station can be a convenient choice. This station sits approximately 4 km (2.5 miles) away from the city center and offers a shuttle service connecting it to the Avignon Center station.
In this vicinity, you’ll discover a selection of modern and comfortable hotels, along with a shopping center. Additionally, the TGV station area serves as a practical hub for train journeys to other Provencal destinations. It’s worth noting, though, that this area lacks the scenic charm and atmosphere of the city center, and dining options may be somewhat limited.
For those seeking the serene natural beauty of Provence, opting for accommodations in the countryside around Avignon can be a wonderful choice.
Here, you’ll encounter charming bed and breakfasts, farmhouses, and villas nestled amidst picturesque vineyards, fragrant lavender fields, and serene olive groves. The countryside setting lends itself perfectly to outdoor pursuits such as hiking, cycling, and kayaking. However, it’s essential to note that this area may not be the most convenient for city-centered sightseeing in Avignon.
Accessing the city center will require a car or reliance on public transportation. Additionally, due to the popularity of these properties and their limited availability, it’s advisable to make reservations well in advance, as they tend to book up quickly.
Getting Around Avignon
Avignon is a small, compact, and walkable city in the south of France. If you are wondering how to get around Avignon and explore its attractions, here are some tips and options for you.
Car Rental to Explore Avignon
Do you need a car during your stay in Avignon?
Generally, the answer is no, unless you plan to explore remote areas in Provence that aren’t easily reached by public transportation. Avignon’s historic center is contained within a protective wall and is remarkably compact and pedestrian-friendly.
Most of the city’s attractions, including the Palais des Papes, the Pont d’Avignon, and the Place de l’Horloge, can be comfortably explored on foot. However, if you do have access to a car, it’s essential to note that parking within the city can be both challenging and costly.
Fortunately, there are some free parking options available just outside the city walls, such as Île Piot or the Parking des Italiens. From there, you can conveniently reach the city center via a complimentary shuttle bus service.
Special Cards and Passes
The Avignon City Pass is a versatile card offering complimentary or reduced entry to over 40 museums, landmarks, and activities in Avignon and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. It also covers your public transportation needs within the city, encompassing buses, trams, and Baladines (electric mini-buses).
The pass comes in two options: €24 for 24 hours or €32 for 48 hours, and you can conveniently purchase it online or at the tourist office. The pass becomes a valuable asset if you plan to explore numerous attractions and utilize public transportation during your visit.
To put it in perspective, the entry fee for the Palais des Papes alone is €12, so the pass can translate into significant savings. However, if your sightseeing agenda is limited, or you prefer leisurely strolls around the city, the pass may not be essential for your stay.
If you plan to see more places in Provence and not only Avignon, Vaucluse Provence Pass is what you might be looking for.
Other Ways to Get Around Avignon
In addition to walking, driving, or utilizing public transportation, you have the option to rent a bicycle or an electric scooter for a unique exploration of Avignon. The city boasts several bike rental shops, such as Vélopop and Provence Bike, making it convenient to find the right wheels for your adventure.
Alternatively, you can use the Vélopop app to locate and unlock one of the 300 bicycles available at 17 stations scattered throughout the city. For electric scooters, Lime offers a handy app to discover and rent them.
Both of these choices provide enjoyable and eco-friendly means of traversing Avignon. Nevertheless, it’s essential to exercise caution regarding traffic and pedestrians while enjoying your ride.
Guides In Visiting Avignon
So that’s it! Those are tips and my 10 reasons why you should come and have a trip to Avignon.
Do you wish to go to Avignon now? Here are the tours/guides I recommend to help you make your trip to Avignon more convenient and insightful:
Just a quick tip before you head off: Avignon offers an enchanting journey back in time. But if it’s epic escapism you’re after in a French town, then look no further than Colmar.
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