Avignon is at the heart of glorious Provence in the south of France…
The city of Avignon traces its origins to the Rocher des Doms, a natural shelter located high above the Rhone River. Avignon has many names – “City of the river”, the “City of the violent wind”, “The Chiming City” or “The City of Popes” thanks to its fame as a onetime residence of Popes.
Avignon is surrounded by ramparts, first built in the 12th Century on top of traces of the ancient Roman city which once stood there, they were destroyed and rebuilt in the 14th Century and today are 4.3 km long with 35 defensive towers. The impressive ramparts encircle the city and lead to interesting strolls among the old winding streets, as you explore chapels and churches, buildings from the Middle Ages and city mansions from the 18th and 19th centuries. Art and architecture surround you. City squares and terraces, shaded from the summer sun by the leafy plane trees, are an invitation to slow down and enjoy life. The perfect place to watch the world go by, enjoy a drink, chat among friends or rest after a day of touring or shopping.
One of the most visited sites of Avignon is the huge Gothic Palais des Papes – the Palace of the Popes. During the 14th Century the Catholic world was ruled from Avignon before returning to Rome.
Major cultural events take place year round such as the Avignon Theatre Festival which transforms the city into one major stage as it becomes the biggest theatre in the world! Cheval passion in January, the Hivernales contemporary dance festival in February, Altera rosa and its outstanding roses at the Palace of the Popes in May and much more (see Avignon tourist website below for details).
Avignon’s famous bridge was built between 1171 and 1185, with an original length of some 900 m (2950 ft). After suffering frequent collapses from floods it was rebuilt several times. It is the subject of a well-known French children’s song, “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” (“On the bridge of Avignon”), which describes folk dancing. It is said that people would have danced beneath the bridge. Today only four of the original arches remain.
The perfect place to discover and explore Provencal cuisine, Avignon chefs have reaped many stars in the best guides, and propose traditional and contemporary cuisine in lovely restaurants. (See more on cuisine of Avignon)
Avignon’s market – Les Halles – offers fresh produce and regional products six days a week and as the capital of the Côtes du Rhône wines, there is no lack of excellent wines to discover.
Avignon’s museums house a wide variety of collections. The Archaeology Museum, called the “Musée Lapidaire” displays Greek, Etruscan and Egyptian antiquities, the Petit Palais is famous for its exceptional collection of Italian primitive paintings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Calvet Museum is the museum of Fine Arts; at Angladon Museum you can see 20th century masters among other object sin the founders’ home. The Vouland Museum shows decorative arts and the Collection Lambert has a vast collection of contemporary art.
How to get to Avignon
Train to Avignon
Avignon is 2 hours and 40 minutes from Paris by TGV, 5 hours 30 minutes from London to Avignon by Eurostar in July and August only.
By Air: Avignon airport is a main airport with direct flights to many major countries.
See Avignon Tourist office for details of events, travel, sites and much more.