Avignon is one of the most famous and best places to visits in Provence, in the south of France. Avignon is a renowned historic city that was lived by the Popes after leaving Rome in the 14th century. That’s why the incredible Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) was built – one of the must-see landmarks in the city. In addition, Avignon has many historic sites and buildings, as well as a number of art museums and beautiful squares.
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So, is Avignon worth visiting, how to visit Avignon, what to do in Avignon and how to plan a budget trip to Avignon for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Avignon travel blog (Avignon blog) with the fullest Avignon travel guide (Avignon tourist guide, Avignon guide) from how to get to Avignon, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Avignon to help you maximize your trip as follows!
Many travelers coming to Avignon share the same feeling: If big cities in France like Paris, Lyon, Marseille symbolize the progress of European civilization, then the soul of those civilizations is the peaceful countryside, rich in cultural identity, rich in history, of which Avignon is a typical example.
For decades in the 14th century, Avignon was considered the capital of Christendom, when Pope Clement V moved the bishopric there to avoid chaos in Rome. Heritages, remains are preserved and can be seen at UNESCO’s architectural reserve in the city, including the colossal Palais des Papes and the Châteauneuf-du-Pape castle, which was once destroyed and later restored by a pope, he also restored and produced the famous red wine of the place.
Overview of Avignon (#avignon travel blog)
Avignon lies on the left bank of the river Rhône, a few kilometers from its confluence with Durance, about 580 kilometers southeast of Paris, 229 kilometers (142 mi) south of Lyon, and 85 kilometers (53 mi) north-west north of Marseille. To the west it shares borders with the department of Gard and the communes of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Les Angles and to the south it borders with the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and the communes of Barbentane, Rognonas, Châteaurenard and Noves.
Avignon was once the capital of the Vaucluse department, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur administrative region of France, with a population of 89,300 (as of 2005). This city is located on the left bank of the Rhone River, with its ecclesiastical architecture and is a tourist destination visited by many tourists.
More than 700 years ago (1309 and 1377), Avignon was a center of power, a worldwide Catholic holy place because it was the place to reside and work, governing the church of seven popes for nearly a century. The quaint beauty, charming of the ancient architectures preserved to this day, along with the history stories full of ups and downs have made this ancient city recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site since 1995.
Going back in history, the structures in this sturdy citadel of Avignon are associated with the story of the history of the Catholic Church following the vicissitudes of the popes. Avignon had seven popes rule the church, starting from Pope Clement V in 1305 to Pope Gregoire XI in 1378. Since 1378, the Catholic church in Rome had a sixth Pope, Urban, after then due to the schism, Agvinon elected the seventh Pope, Clemente VII, the church now had two popes, leading to a schism lasting 40 years. After the Clemente VII, Avignon has another pope, Benedict XII, so in total, the ancient city of Avignon has had nine popes living and working here.
When to come?
If you’re looking for the warmest time to visit Avignon, the hottest months are July, August and then June. The warmest time of year is usually late July, where temperatures are high, regularly around 88.5°F (31.4°C) with temperatures rarely falling below 62.8°F (17.1°C) at night.
Festival d’Avignon (#avignon travel blog)
Dubbed the city of art, the heart of Provence, Avignon is vibrant with festivals all year round. The Avignon festival season begins with the International Avignon Theatre Festival (also known as the Festival d’Avignon), held every July. This is considered the largest and most famous festival of Avignon.
Starting from the idea of famous French director Jean Vilar, the festival d’Avignon was first held in 1947 and is one of the most appreciated art festivals in Europe. During this time, Avignon seems to have become the biggest stage in the world, with hundreds of traditional art performances such as plays, puppetry, opera, mime, contemporary dance every day… Every year, festival d’Avignon attracts about 8,000 artists, hundreds of performances day and night and more than 70,000 visitors from all over the world to attend.
Rhone Wine Festival
As the capital of the famous Côte-du-Rhône wine brand, Avignon holds many traditional festivals, including the famous wine festival (Côtes du Rhône wine festival, Avignon’s Annual Wine Festival), which takes place at the end of August every year. As early as mid-August, residents and visitors have been able to enjoy free wine on the old streets during the weekend farmers market along Teinturiers Street.
By the last Saturday of August, the time of the festival, all vineyards in the region are open to welcome visitors, enjoy grapes and free wine. The wine festival brings with it the hope of French farmers for premium casks of wine. And grape juice, rosé, and red wine are indispensable drinks of the peasants participating in the street parade and dancing all night in the ballroom ball held in the square in front of the Pope’s Palace.
Coming to Avignon during the festive season, walking along the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town, everyone seems to choose to enjoy a morning cup of coffee accompanied by a few pipeline cakes, made from chocolate, sugar and oregano which is the best quality only in the region, while enjoying the slow pace of life, while admiring the beautiful panorama here.
Transportation (#avignon travel guide)
If you travel to Avignon from neighboring provinces, you can choose from a variety of means of transport such as bus, coach or tram. To getting around in the city, visitors have a lot of choices of different means of transport from taxi, bus, bicycle, tram or motorbike. One thing to note when planning to visit Avignon is that it does not have an international airport.
The ancient citadel of Avignon, capital of the Vaucluse province of Provence, southern France, is almost an hour from Lyon by TGV high-speed train and more than 600 kilometers from Paris. Less than a 15-minute ride from the TGV high-speed train station by public bus, the final stop is the tram station directly opposite the Avignon old town.
Travel from Paris to Avignon (#avignon travel guide)
- About 3 and a half hours from Paris Gare de Lyon station
- Ticket price: 10 euros to 222 euros
- Pre-order on the SNCF website.
- About 8 hours from Paris.
- Ticket price: 20 euros
- By OUIBUS, Flixbus etc.
What to do and where to go in Avignon? (#avignon blog)
The old town of Avignon with soaring city walls, estimated to be over 5m, covered with a vast stretch of gray, right opposite the tram station. From the bus station, a few steps across the street, through the main gate of the city wall, visitors have set foot in the ancient citadel of Avignon and are standing on the road of the Republic (Rue de la Republique) leading to the center of the old city. There is no noise, hustle and bustle, busy traffic, only shady streets, with cute little shops on the street corner are the first impressions when coming to Avignon.
The ancient town with a lot of ancient architecture has more than two centuries of existence, but most of it has been carefully preserved over time, right from the details of sculptures and carvings on the marble floor are still intact. Perhaps, in a place far from the city of light Paris, space and time seem to slow down, the hustle and bustle of a modern society when coming to Avignon must give way to the silence and majesty of the buildings. Whether the beauty of those buildings is intact or has been partly destroyed by time, they are all very charming and elegant touches in the overall architecture of the ancient citadel of Avignon. A corner of St. Didier’s church with typical Gothic architecture is a typical example that visitors encounter in their journey to discover the architectural beauty of the old town.
Strolling through the old town of Avignon, visitors will have the feeling that each deserted street corner, each brick paved road, each architectural block is an interesting story about the medieval citadel of the popes. The old town has many churches, most of which are built with typical Gothic architecture familiar in the construction of medieval cathedrals. With carvings on wood and stone, it is very meticulous and elaborate, showing a sculptural skill that reaches the perfection that most of the artists of decorative arts in Gothic architecture are Italian artisans. Visitors learn more that in Agvinon, the Pope’s Palace is the most massive Gothic architecture in the world, and the cathedrals in the ancient city of Agvinon as a highlight, contributing to the beauty of the unique Gothic architecture by the river Rhone.
Palais des Papes (#avignon blog)
Address: Pl. du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
Hours: 9 AM–7 PM
You cannot visit Avignon without visiting this incredible palace The Palace of the Popes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built as the residence of the Popes from Rome. Therefore, it is also known as the City of the Popes.
From the town hall, continue towards the bank of the Rhone not far, you will immediately see a massive castle, facing the sky on the horizon. That is the heart of Avignon, known as the Pope’s palace, started by Avignon’s third pope, Benedict XII, and his successors followed in the construction of this massive palace for 30 years. from 1334 to 1364 with an area of up to 11,000m2.
Palais des Papes is the largest and most important structure here, built in the Middle Ages and still has a prominent Gothic style at that time in Europe. This is the fortress and palace, the residence of the popes of Western Rome during the 14th century.
If you have plenty of time to visit the Palais des Papes, sign up for the Secret Palace tour to hear your guide introduce anecdotes about the pope and have the chance to visit private rooms and secret passageways.
Today, this palace is a tourist attraction that attracts many visitors. It is also the city’s major convention center, the site of many meetings and the archives of the Vaucluse region, including a major center for the study of the papacy of Avignon, hosted by Dr. Ecole française de Rome.
Traveling to Avignon in the summer, you can watch the Les Luminessences d’Avignon show about 35 minutes long in the central courtyard of the Palais des Papes, documenting the construction and life of the palace under the Avignon popes.
Next to the Papal Palace, there is a tower top on which there is a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary that stands out against the blue sky, this is the Basilica, built in the 12th century according to Roman architecture shows the grandeur and is also a perfect connection with the overall architecture of the Pope’s palace.
Musée du Petit Palais d’Avignon
Address: Palais des archevêques, Pl. du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
Hours: 10 AM–1 PM, 2–6 PM/Tuesday: Closed
Avignon is home to a number of small but impressive museums, especially art museums. The Musée de Petit Palais is one of UNESCO’s most famous World Heritage Sites and is home to an incredible collection of paintings, including several Italian masterpieces from the 13th to 15th centuries.
If you’re not an art lover, but you love admiring a beautiful building, see this museum from the outside. Because the building itself is a work of art, a charming palace dating back to the 13th century.
Bridge of Saint-Benezet
Address: Bd de la Ligne, 84000 Avignon, France
Saint-Bénézet Bridge or Avignon Bridge is a famous bridge that was built in the Middle Ages in the South of France. Appearing in the song “On the Bridge of Avignon” (Sur le Pont d’Avignon), this bridge has become a must-see spot when you have the opportunity to visit this city.
Legend has it that in 1177, a shepherd named Bénézet was instructed by angels to build a bridge over the Rhône and was blessed with superhuman strength to lift a giant rock. You can also hear a few different versions of this story, so it’s best to go and hear all of them yourself to see which is the most real.
At the top of the citadel’s high hill, the symbol of Avignon appeared before his eyes, which was the architecture of the famous broken bridge called Saint Benezet, but people used to call it Avignon Bridge, built at the time from In 1171 to 1185, when the bridge was built with 22 spans, now there are only four spans left, because it was washed away by floods and had to be rebuilt many times. What remains of the bridge today can be seen dating from 1660.
The Avignon City Hall (Hotel de Ville d’Avignon)
Address: Pl. de l’Horloge, 84000 Avignon, France
At the end of Republic Street is the town hall – a symbol of Avignon’s powerful face over the years, towering with a towering bell tower also shown in Gothic architecture, with decorative details on the stone background. Currently, the level of sculpture reached the peak of the ancient artisans when they started to build this ancient citadel.
When the ancients built the plan of the ancient citadel it was really ingenious and delicate, an entire architectural complex revolved around the town hall with the theater, the hotel, the gap connecting these architectural complexes was a square. The school, is a great space for travelers with tired knees and legs with steps on the ancient stone floor need an interesting place to stop to admire more of the magnificent beauty of the beautiful buildings of the city.
Collection Lambert Avignon
Address: 5 Rue Violette, 84000 Avignon, France
Hours: 1–6 PM/Saturday, Sunday: 11 AM–6 PM/Monday, Tuesday: Closed
The Yvon Lambert Museum is a place to display many different artifacts, in many ways such as art auctions, galleries or famous collections. The collections here are extremely diverse, including many famous artists such as Sai Tomburi, Nan Goldin, Basquias and many others.
With different sections such as auctions, art collections, galleries. We marveled at the diverse collections that included Sai Tomburi, Basquias, Nan Goldin, and a host of other artists.
Teinturiers Street (Dyers street)
Teinturiers Street is located near a small canal, a bit far from the city center, but it is an extremely vibrant and bustling place. There is a lot going on here, you can play sports, or enjoy coffee and fast food in the nearby restaurants.
We decided to have lunch on the terrace while soaking up the sun at a bistro called South Buddha.
Avignon’s local culinary experience
The best way to discover a new destination is to enjoy its food. This is especially true of France. A food tour is a unique experience where you can learn more about Avignon. Here you can visit lots of lovely little shops and sample some of the best food in the city. Besides, you can also enjoy wines and olives at Les Baux-de-Provence.
Les Halles d’Avignon Market
Address: 18 Pl. Pie, 84000 Avignon, France
Hours: 6 AM–2 PM/Monday: Closed
To access the culture of a place, ‘food’ is a good way to go, which is why you should go to the Halles d’Avignon – a treasure trove of all kinds of regional products Provence. The Halles d’Avignon is housed in a large, modern building in the heart of the city, a location that makes it stand out from the surrounding ancient buildings.
If you love experiencing authentic local life, then you must definitely visit the colorful and fragrant Les Halles market. You will be greeted by a giant living wall upon entering the market. Here, you will enjoy many delicious dishes next to the romantic river.
It offers the freshest food here, with local vegetables, herbs, meats, olives, oils and anything related to lavender – a specialty of beautiful Provence. This is where the locals as well as the top chef Avignon will come to buy food for scrumptious dishes.
In front of this market is a square space, where a flea market selling local products is often held. Tourists like to buy things at the flea market because the space is open and the prices are a bit ‘softer’ than inside the market.
If you have the opportunity to come here, you will want to spend the day wandering around the food stalls and secretly wishing you could bring them all home.
Le Pont du Gard
Address: 30210 Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France
While you’re in Avignon, visit Le Pont du Gard, a three-story stone aqueduct and one of the best-preserved pieces of ancient Roman architecture in all of France. The bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is about 25km west of Avignon. You can get there by taxi, or bus. This bridge is 160 feet high, is the tallest of the elevated Roman aqueducts, estimated to bring 200,000 cubic meters of water per day.
Avignon Cathedral (Notre Dame des Doms d’Avignon)
Address: Pl. du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
Hours: 6:30 AM–12 PM, 2:30–5:30 PM
The cathedral was built in the 12th century and is well worth a visit. The interior of this church is one of its most prominent features, featuring old frescoes and marble statues. Another striking feature of this structure is a golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing over the cathedral, overlooking the city of Avignon.
Leaving the peaceful streets of the old city, visitors walk into the road next to the Pope’s palace and the Basilica leading to a small garden on the top of a high hill, separate from the ancient streets. The garden is a gathering place of many kinds of flowers and leaves, birds also gather in the ponds and lakes to play, bringing a peaceful atmosphere, as contributing to the ancient city of Avignon more quiet and ancient. From this hilltop garden, one can enjoy the beauty of the gentle Rhone river, which flows like a bridge connecting the stories of Avignon from the past to the present.
The high hilltop is also the most beautiful angle that tourists often choose to admire the beauty of the poetic Rhone river, as well as face the surface of a solid Avignon citadel from more than five centuries after many ups and downs. On this high point, everyone wants to capture beautiful images with the ancient citadel of Avignon, a magnificent relic from the Middle Ages created by human.
Sip a coffee at Avignon Square
This serene square is located in the heart of Avignon, giving it a signature vibe. This is a splendid venue, filled with an array of restaurants and cafes. Visit here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee, a slice of cake while taking in the beauty of beautiful structures, such as the Town Hall and the 19th-century Opera House.
Enjoy a cup of coffee at L’Ami Voyage en Compagnie – a lovely second-hand bookstore in the heart of Avignon
Address: 5 Rue Prévôt, 84000 Avignon, France
L’Ami Voyage en Compagnie is a great suggestion if you want to experience Avignon the way a local does. The lovely cafe has both a cafe space on the ground floor and a second-hand bookstore, which is very suitable for drinking coffee while reading.
Experience a quiet, cozy space, enjoy a cup of fragrant coffee, L’Ami Voyage en Compagnie is a familiar destination for many people living in Avignon, especially those who like coffee and love books.
The shop also appears in many travel magazines introducing Avignon tourism. Don’t forget to chat with the bartender to learn more interesting facts about Avignon!
Cruise along The Rhone
The gentle flow of the Rhone is one of the focal points of Avignon and it has always played an important part in the city’s history. Today, there are many ways to experience the stunning beauty of the river, like taking a river cruise at lunchtime or dinner. This is also the ideal opportunity to enjoy the wonderful scenery of Avignon’s famous landmarks.
Explore Roman and Van Gogh structures in nearby Arles
France’s Roman history mainly appears in Avignon, Le Pont du Gard, and the nearby town of Arles. A train journey can take you from Avignon to Arles in just 20 minutes, to a town with more than 2,500 years of history. Besides, this town is also where Van Gogh lived in the late 19th century. Therefore, you should visit here to discover the life of this great painter.
To explore more deeply, you can also join a day tour by tram or antique car. And if you have visited Avignon, you should not miss the tour of the flower and grape fields, a characteristic of the south of France. Here you will be immersed in fragrant lavender fields, beautiful tulips and more.
What to eat?
Coming to Avignon, Visitors will also have the opportunity to experience a unique cuisine, with many famous local dishes such as:
- Asparagus from the Blaye region – Asperges mauves du Blayais
- Snails are one of the most popular dishes in Avignon, often found in a casserole with chives, wine and ham, the French name is Escargots à la Caudéranaise
- Oysters are served with a typical white wine, with the French name Huîtres du Bassin d’Arcachon
Dinner at Le Barrio
Le Barrio is a favorite among many locals. A restaurant that both serves delicious food, has a cozy atmosphere and ‘elegant French’ furniture is worthy for tourists to experience.
Le Barrio serves a menu that changes by day and season, so try the restaurant’s suggested dishes for the best dinner. Don’t forget to order a bottle of fine wine because this is the land of French wine with the world famous red wine.
Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hôtel Le Bristol (Agoda, Booking)
- Auberge de Cassagne & Spa (Agoda, Booking)
- Avignon Grand Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel de L’Horloge (Agoda, Booking)
- Régina Boutique Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Garlande Hotel Avignon Centre (Agoda, Booking)
- Hôtel Central Avignon (Agoda, Booking)
- Hôtel Cloitre Saint Louis Avignon (Agoda, Booking)
- Kyriad Avignon – Palais des Papes (Agoda, Booking)
- ibis budget Avignon Centre (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Avignon you can refer to
- Avignon and the Luberon Villages Day Tour from Marseille or Aix-en-Provence
- The Best of Provence Afternoon Tour from Avignon
- Provence Stone Monuments Half Day Tour from Avignon
- Private Walking Tour in Avignon
- Lavender Full Day Tour from Avignon
- Van Gogh Half Day Tour from Avignon
- Popes’ Palace and The bridge of Avignon Admission in Avignon
- Provence, Avignon, and Les Baux de Provence Day Tour from Paris
- Lavender Sault Tour From Avignon
- Avignon Walking Tour with Skip-the-Line Access to Pope’s Palace
- Orange and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Culture and Wine Half Day Tour from Avignon
- Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Rome, Avignon Tour from London (1-7 days)
- Full day Shore Excursion To Avignon and Aix en Provence
- Aix-en-Provence Historical and Gourmet Walking Tour from Avignon or Aix
Ignoring the noisy festivals, the strange and majestic rock formations from the ancient citadel of Avignon are like a sad sigh quietly released into space in the late afternoon viewed from the island of Barthelasse, towards the bridge of Saint-Bénezet. It was as if this city, through all its upheavals, still retained the glory of its ancient past. Avignon, therefore, becomes a must-see place on the French travel journey.