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The riverside city of Avignon in the Provence region of southern France entices travelers with stone architecture, a storied religious past, and close proximity to other Provencal towns. The city's UNESCO-listed historic center served as the home of the Avignon Papacy for nearly 70 years, and many of the medieval stone structures related to this time remain, including the enormous Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace). Other notable monuments in central Avignon include the 12th-century cathedral and the Hotel d'Europe (one of France's oldest hotels), and a stroll along the Rhone River will take you to the remnants of the Medieval Pont d'Avignon bridge, which inspired a song in the late 19th century.
More than 100,000 visitors attend the Avignon Festival—one of France’s most prestigious arts festivals—each July. If you can handle the crowds, July and August are also the months to admire Provence’s lavender and sunflower fields in bloom, and the balmy temperatures are ideal for leisurely wine-tasting tours in the surrounding vineyards. Spring and autumn see fewer crowds and lower accommodation prices, and the cooler weather is better suited for hiking and outdoor activities.
The sights of Avignon’s Old Town can be visited on a walking tour, or you can hop on one of the self-service Velopop’ bikes—day or week passes are available. For longer journeys, take the tram or catch one of the Baladines, electric shuttle buses that run around the Teinturiers and Halles d’Avignon districts. If you’re arriving by car, you might prefer to park at the Parking-Relais just outside of town and catch the free shuttle to the city center.
Barthelasse Island lies just north of the city center along the Rhone River. Not only is it one of the largest river islands in Europe, but it’s also home to patchwork farmlands, scenic towpaths, riverside parks, and a campground. Rent a bike and pedal along the riverside, stopping to admire views of the Pont d’Avignon, the Rocher des Doms and the Palace of the Popes. You’ll get a nice view of Avignon from the island too.
Avignon is often visited as a day trip during longer excursions through Provence. But it also makes a great base for exploring surrounding towns and villages, including Arles (where Van Gogh created many of his paintings) and the salt marshes of the Camargue, famous for its wild horses and pink flamingoes....More
A full day is just enough time to visit the 14th-century Palais des Papes, or Papal Palace, once the seat of Christianity before the Vatican; stroll down or photograph the remains of the medieval-era Pont de l’Avignon (Avignon Bridge); and explore the winding, café-and-boutique-filled streets of the historic center....More
The Festival d'Avignon, or Avignon Festival, has been an annual showcase for contemporary European theater, dance, and art since 1947, when it was founded by French actor Jean Vilar. Held for several weeks each July, the festival uses iconic sites like the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) for its stages....More
Yes. With its sunny, southern climate, unique medieval heritage, charming historic center, and enviable transport links (it’s reachable in under three hours by TGV from Paris), Avignon is a destination well-worth spending one or several days. Have any longer, and you can explore the surrounding countryside as well....More
“Avignon” is a French place name with origins in ancient Greek and Latin, a testament to the city’s millennia-long heritage. The famous pont de l’Avignon remains especially iconic owing to a popular French song dating back to the 16th century, “Sur the pont de l’Avignon” (“On Avignon Bridge”)....More
No, Avignon, like the rest of Provence, is one of the safest parts of France. Keep in mind, though, that it’s still a city, albeit a very small one. Minor thefts and pickpocketing can still occur, so carry only a photocopy of your passport and consider keeping valuables in your hotel safe....More
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