With three days in Avignon, you'll have enough time to visit the city's myriad medieval attractions and also experience its surrounding countryside, including lavender fields, Rhône Valley vineyards, and the landscapes that inspired Van Gogh. Here is an itinerary to maximize your time in the region.
Day 1: Palais des Papes and Lavender
Spend your first morning in Avignon focusing on some of the city’s most important medieval highlights. The number-one attraction here is the Palais des Papes, the world's largest Gothic palace, which served as the official residence of a number of popes and antipopes in the Middle Ages. Inside, you’ll find beautiful tapestries, secret passages, and beautiful gardens. Highlights include the chapel of Saint Martial, which is full of beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the namesake saint's life, and the Grand Chapel.
After visiting the palace, make quick stops at the 13th-century Avignon Cathedral as well as the iconic Pont d'Avignon, the remains of a medieval bridge that juts out into the Rhone River. Then make your way out to the countryside to check out the charming towns of Gordes and Roussillon and, if you’re visiting in the summertime, the area's beautiful lavender fields.
Day 2: Wine and Art
Start your second day in Avignon with a visit to the Collection Lambert, one of the newest additions to Avignon's cultural scene. Founded in 2000, this contemporary art museum showcases the extensive collection of Yvon Lambert, most of which dates from the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century; expect to see works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Ryman, and other notable artists. After your visit, grab a quick lunch before joining a tour through Rhône Valley wine country, just outside Avignon. Most tours head straight to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in Vaucluse, the largest wine-producing area in the region, and include tastings and vineyard tours where you can learn a bit about how the wines are produced. In the evening, make your way back to Avignon for dinner and people-watching in the Place d’Horloge, the city’s main square.
Day 3: Van Gogh’s Provence
Spend your last day in the area exploring the areas of Provence that inspired Vincent Van Gogh: Start in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and tour the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum, where Van Gogh did a stint (and also painted his famous wheat field series). Then head to Arles, where Van Gogh lived for more than a year. Alternatively, if you aren't up for dedicating a whole day to Van Gogh alone, consider a tour that combines a trip to Arles with visits to other historical sites in the area, such as the medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence or the UNESCO-listed town of Orange. Orange is of particular interest to history buffs; it boasts some of the best-preserved Roman architecture in all of Europe, including a gorgeously maintained Roman amphitheater that now hosts summer opera performances.