Among the municipalities to visit in Provence and Provence’s points of interest, Avignon is a very beautiful city. Its prime location in between Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône makes it conveniently accessible from Marseille by high speed trains, ensuring that you can quickly explore the marvels this city has to offer!
Former city of the Popes, Avignon is a well-preserved jewel of Provence. Its ramparts and monuments still bear witness to a rich history that we advise you to take the time to discover.
Renowned for its arts and entertainment festival, as well as its famous bridge, it is also a dynamic and student city. Winalist takes you on a tour for you to visit Avignon through a selection of unmissable historic sites, followed by some suggestions for wine tourism activities in Provence to enhance your stay.
Visit Avignon’s Top 5 unmissable historic sites
If you had to visit the city in the space of a day or a weekend, here are the places that we recommend you to see in priority in Avignon:
- The Palace of the Popes
- The Roches des Doms
- Avignon bridge
- The County Monument
- The Roure Palace
The opportunity to take a nice walk in the center of Avignon discovering the main points of interest and its typical streets of medieval times.
1. Visit the Palace of the Popes
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palace of the Popes and its Episcopal Ensemble is the largest Gothic construction of the Middle Ages.
Both a palace and a fortress, these buildings also house the largest pontifical library in Europe.
It is a strong symbol of the influence of the church on the Christian West in the 14th century, built from 1335, in less than 20 years. A feat for the time, especially for such a building whose area represents approximately 15,000m2. You can visit different places (more than 25 rooms are open to the public) including the Gothic Palace, the gardens of the Palace, or admire the priceless frescoes adorning the chapels and private apartments of the Pope.
Good to know: The Palais des Papes is one of the Top 10 most visited monuments in France, with no less than 600,000 visitors each year.
2. The Jardin des Doms and its rock
Next sight to see when you visit Avignon is the most popular public garden in this city. Located in the city center above the Palais des Papes, this English garden is a magnificent refuge which was the cradle of Avignon according to the discoveries of historians.
Indeed, the various archaeological studies show that the first human occupations in this precise place date from the Neolithic. We appreciate the Jardin des Doms to walk around and cool off on hot summer days, but also to admire the various statues and the panorama of the entire old town.
3. The famous Pont d’Avignon
Next up on your list of top sights when you visit Avignon is the Pont Saint-Benezet, better known as the “Avignon Bridge”. This is an architectural feat that has entered into legend since the famous French song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”.
Built in the 12th century, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Among the many stories told, it would seem that the construction of this unfinished bridge was the work of a young shepherd named Bénezet, with the help of divine intervention.
4. Visit Avignon’s County Monument
On the banks of Rhône, along Boulevard Saint-Dominique stands a majestic stone and bronze statue crafted by Félix Charpentier to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Comtat Venaissin’s union with France. Originally placed on Place de l’Horloge in 1892, this monument was relocated to Oulle alleys during 1974 renovation works. The pedestal proudly displays an iron lion – representing universal suffrage – paying homage to its impactful history.
5. Visit Avignon’s Roure Palace
The Palais du Roure is a living testament to the significance of one of Avignon’s most renowned families – The Baroncelli from Florence. For five centuries, they have resided in this grand dwelling.
Nowadays, it stands as an iconic hub for Mediterranean culture; visitors are invited to explore its history and literature steeped deep within Provençal traditions. And best of all? You can wander around its beautiful courtyard free-of-charge and even take part in the museum tours that showcase permanent collections!
The surroundings of Avignon: explore Provence vineyards
Do you want to take a walk outside Avignon to better discover Provence, its villages and its culture? Then we have what you need.
Make lasting memories in the wondrous Provence vineyards when you visit a Winalist partner estate. Avignon has an abundance of activities that will let you delve into its history, savor incredible regional cuisine and even uncover hidden gems. Come explore with us!
“A la Francaise” in Avignon
This agency specializes in tourist circuits in the Rhone Valley. Accompanied by a guide, in a group or on a private tour, you set off from Avignon to discover the treasures of the region in the best conditions.
What to do in Avignon? Top 3 activities
Here is our selection of the Top 3 activities in Avignon. Ideal during a stay with family or friends.
1. The Angladon Museum
Located at the Hôtel de Massilian, a stunning 17th century private mansion, the Angladon Museum showcases masterpieces by renowned artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Sisley, Picasso, Modigliani and Van Gogh from couturier Jacques Doucet’s collections.
For children who may not be art experts just yet – don’t worry! At reception you can receive a tablet with an interactive application to explore this venue in search of hidden treasures.
2. Take a guided tour of Avignon
Explore the historic center of Avignon on a 3-hour guided tour accompanied by a passionate and fascinating French-speaking guide.
Discover the rich cultural heritage of Avignon, with all the amusing explanations of an inhabitant of Avignon who will know how to make you adore this city. And as a bonus, you access the Palais des Papes with a skip-the-line ticket.
At the end of your guided tour, take advantage of a commented oenological initiation with the tasting of several wines in a local vineyard (without supplement, it is included in the visit) and learn more about this exceptional terroir!
3. Take part in the Avignon Festival
Every July, the Avignon Festival captivates theater and live performance enthusiasts from around the globe. With its spectacular transformation of the entire city into an al fresco theatre, it draws in droves of tourists, connoisseurs and onlookers to behold its grandeur. A world-renowned event that never fails to captivate all who partake in it!
Come experience the uniquely jovial and creative environment that takes place every year in Avignon, France! A variety of shows, film screenings, debates, and exhibitions are all part of this amazing program. Over twenty familiar places around town become vibrant with entertainment as numerous industry professionals come together to make it happen. If you visit Avignon during July your visit will be a completely different—and unforgettable—experience!
Some figures on the Festival d’Avignon :
- Each edition issues approximately 110,000 tickets for paying shows and 30,000 free admissions;
- there are more than 500 journalists from all walks of life;
- 80% of shows and stage productions are premieres in France.
FAQ & Useful resources about Avignon
How to get to Avignon
From Marseille: 45 minutes by train, 1h15 by car; from Paris: 7h by car, 2h40 by train; from Toulouse: 3h45 by train, 3h30 by car; from Lyon: 1h30 by train, 2h30 by car
Where to swim near Avignon
Swimming at the Pont du Gard and the Plan d’eau des Salettes are the two swimming areas closest to Avignon.
Where to walk around Avignon?
For walks and hikes, we recommend the Chemin Urbain V, the plateau des Vignerons in Roquemaure, or the path of the canals.
What useful addresses to know?
The Avignon tourist office is located at 41 Cours Jean Jaurès. For accommodation, you will find many hotels in the city center, of all standards. As far as restaurants are concerned, our preference goes to La Cour d’Honneur, 58 rue Joseph Vernet.
How many days do you need in Avignon?
Avignon is very beautiful city with a lot of specials spots you are not likely to see anywhere else. The region of Provence is already a beauty in itself, so it would be too bad to regret staying for a short length of time. You can visit Avignon in one day, but it’s best to plan staying at least 2 days to enjoy the city and its surroundings without rushing. You can find accommodations in Avignon here.
Why is Avignon famous?
Avignon mostly famous for the Palais des Papes, the wolrd’s largest Gothic edifice. You may also have heard of the French song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon“, which made Avignon famous for its stoned bridge.
When is the best time to visit Avignon France?
Being in the heart of Provence, south of France, Avignon is a very nice summer destination. However, summer is also the high tourist season, so the city can quickly be crowded and it might come as difficult to find tables in restaurants and visit museums quietly. The months of May and June are perfect if you want to stroll around the city in a smoother ambiance, and still enjoy beautiful weather conditions.
What and where to eat in Avignon?
To the delight of locals and tourists, Avignon is full of great restaurants, bistros, cafés and bars, that serve delicious Provençales specialties like
– Tapenades (olive purée);
– Papeton d’Aubergine,
– Local goat Cheese
– Pâtede Coing
A good address to find many restaurants is Rue des Teinturiers.