You’re sitting in the office, or watching the TV or on a train or bus dreaming of being somewhere else. Somewhere sunny, where the food is great and the wine is chilled and you can sit outside relaxing. Avignon in Provence offers all these things and a whole lot more…
Cultural fix in Avignon
The big draw here is the magnificent Palais des Papes. A soaring, turreted monument, the biggest Gothic palace in the world, and utterly breath-taking when you see it in person. One of the most popular places for a selfie is the famous Pont d’Avignon, a bridge which is the subject of a famous song encouraging you to dance on it! People do – you’ll often spot someone skipping about, don’t be embarrassed, if you feel like it, go for it!
Eating out in Avignon
See and be seen in the stunning Place de l’Horloge next to the Place du Palais des Papes. The clock (horloge) is set in an ancient tower which is all that remains of a former Cardinal’s Palace and this vibrant area is animated and always popular.
A secret garden, a terrace with mesmerising views, pavement cafés where you’ll hear music and laughter and clinking glasses and feel the warmth of the sun or the shade of a plane tree. There’s plenty of choice for every taste and budget – see our top ten restaurants in Avignon feature.
Shopping in Avignon
There are high street shops and boutiques galore. If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home then Les Delices de Luberon is very popular with the locals for local products from olive oil and tapenade to lavender (16 Place de la Principale). If you love lavender head to Le Chateau du Bois where a lavender growing family make all manner of lavender products including bath oils, cosmetics, gorgeous little lavender bags (61 rue de la Grande Fusterie). And for food shopping, the market, Les Halles can’t be beaten.
Where to stay in Avignon
There are plenty of hotels and Chambre d’hotes (B&Bs) to choose from. One of the best places to stay is at the stunning Au Coeur d’Avignon It’s set in an historic mansion house and is so beautiful it’s hard to tear yourself away. The luxurious and gorgeous rooms overlook a lush courtyard. The orangerie style breakfast room will make you want to linger and you also get use of a fabulous kitchen and salon area. It is the perfect home from home and the hosts are absolutely lovely and really make you feel welcome; and they’re very happy to share the best places to visit, restaurants, bars and trips. Price-wise, this place is a steal – you’ll want to go back again and again.
Day trips from Avignon
If you have longer than a weekend and you have time to explore the area, hop on a train to one of the villages or towns close by. Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of France is gorgeous and takes just 25 minutes by train. See the Roman ruins or take in a concert in the Roman theatre at Orange, it’s just 25 minutes from Avignon by train. The rail network from Avignon takes you all over Provence and the south of France so you’re really spoiled for choice for a discovery tour.
Another top tip is to take a 15-minute bus trip to Villeneuve les Avignon across the Rhone. Here you’ll find more beautiful medieval properties to visit and restaurants to discover.
Festival time in Avignon
Avignon loves a party and there are plenty of events going on year-round. Cheval Passion and the “Hivernales de la Danse” (contemporary dance festival) are well-known major events during the winter, as well as the traditional Christmas market. Throughout the seasons, the opera house/theatre, music societies and dance companies offer a varied programme of theatre, music and dance, and many exhibitions are held. In the summer the Festival d’Avignon and Les Luminessences d’Avignon, a fantastic son et Lumiere show are two of the biggest and best events in the area.
Check the tourist office website for details and dates www.avignon-touisme; www.provenceguide
Virtual Visit to Avignon
Wander the cobbled streets, stroll along the Place de l’Horloge and ogle the Palais des Papes up close courtesy of Google Arts and Culture.
More on Avignon
Family fun in Avignon
Where the locals eat out in Avignon
The Pont d’Avignon and that famous song!
Near Avignon: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of France
How to get to Avignon
Avignon by train: You can take a direct train with Eurostar from London in the summer which takes just over 5.5 hours. Go by Eurostar via Paris or Lille which takes from 6 hours 10 minutes. Add an extra night in either city for extra enjoyment. Leave London early and you’ll be in Avignon in time for lunch. If you’re already in Paris it only takes just over 2.5 hours to get to Avignon by train.
Avignon Airport has flight connections with several UK airports including London City (just two hours), Birmingham and Southampton and connecting flights to many more.