Avignon, once the residence of the Popes in the Middle Ages, is today a vibrant and colourful destination. Visitors can see the Palais des Papes, once home to seven successive popes, the famous pont d’Avignon (the subject of a well-known children’s song), ramparts, churches and chapels as well as wonderful markets.
Must-sees in Avignon
Palais des Papes – this immense palace makes for a fascinating visit and if you’re in town between August and October, don’t miss the incredible son et lumiere show. It’s the largest Gothic palace in Europe and has around 20 seriously sumptuous decorated rooms.
The famous Pont d’Avignon (St Bénézet bridge) built in the 12th century. Legend has it that a shepherd boy was inspired by angels to build it. The famous French nursery rhyme goes “Sur le pont d’Avignon – L’on y danse” and no one will mind if you have a little dance on the bridge!
Unesco World Heritage Sites: Not just the Palais des Papes and the bridge mentioned above but also the baroque façade of the Exchange, the Museum of the Petit Palais and the Avignon Cathedral, Notre-Dame des Doms, as well as the stretch of 4.3 km long ramparts that run from the Garden of Les Doms to the bridge.
The old town with its cobbled streets, elegant squares and chapels and churches dating back centuries.
The museums: Petit Palais, Musée Calvet with its fine arts collection, Musée Angladon, Lambert collection and Palais du Roure.
The Markets: Les Halles Market is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 6 a.m. onwards, lots of local produce. There are plenty of other markets including a Sunday morning flea market Place des Carmes (for more market info see the tourist office website below).
Walk up to Rocher des Doms, a rocky outcrop on the bank of the Rhone giving spectacular views over the city, and relax in the pretty park at the top.
Take a promenade on the island of La Barthelasse – there’s a free shuttle boat to ferry you across the river.
Festive and Cultural Avignon
The celebrated Avignon Festival brings theatre to the city for 3 weeks in July, when 600 participating theatre companies turn the whole town into a vast stage for an artistic showcase of ballet, music and theatre.
The Sound and Light show at the Palais des Papes held each summer is absolutely unmissable, one of the most extraordinary shows of its kind in the world.
How to get to Avignon
Direct trains from London Eurostar Avignon-London in the summer take just 5 hours 49 minutes uk.voyages-sncf.com
Trains from Paris (2 hrs 40 mins)
Avignon Caumont airport: 8 km from Avignon
See more great ideas for places to visit at uk.france.fr