Best Things To Do in Avignon, France
This guide to the best attractions to see in Avignon will help you prepare your itinerary through one of the most beautiful cities in France, making the most of your time.
Located on the banks of the Rhône River in the beautiful region of Provence, this city was the papal seat from 1309 to 1377, making it the most powerful in Europe.
You will be able to appreciate its outstanding architectural and cultural heritage that has remained in good condition to this day. In addition, there are plenty of impressive gothic buildings.
You will not be short of things to do in Avignon to discover its past and enjoy its present.
20 Top Avignon Attractions, The City of Popes
Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace)
The Palais des Papes is one of Avignon’s most famous landmarks. This massive Gothic palace was the home of the popes during the Avignon Papacy in the 14th century.
Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Palais des Papes is open to the public, and you can explore the pope’s apartments, the great hall, and the balconies overlooking the Rhone River. There’s also a museum on the history of the Avignon Papacy.
The Palais des Papes is a must-see if you’re interested in architecture or history. But, even if you’re not, it’s worth visiting to see this massive palace and learn about Avignon’s unique history.
Place du Palais (Palace’s Square)
The Palais des Papes is located in the center of Avignon, on the Place du Palais. This large square is one of the most beautiful in Avignon, and a great place to people watch.
It’s surrounded by cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing.
If you’re visiting Avignon in July, the Place du Palais is the site of the Avignon Festival, one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world.
The square is transformed into a huge open-air theater during the festival, with performances taking place day and night.
Pont D’Avignon, Saint-Bénézet (Avignon Bridge)
The Pont D’Avignon, or Saint-Bénézet bridge, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Avignon. This medieval bridge was built in the 12th century and spans the Rhone River. It’s named after Saint Bénézet, a local saint who was said to have built the bridge.
Today, the Pont D’Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Avignon’s most popular tourist attractions. You can walk across the bridge to get great views of the city and river.
During the warm weather months, you can also take a boat ride under the Pont D’Avignon. This is a great way to see the bridge up close and enjoy the views of Avignon from the river.
It represents the technical development reached in the 12th century and is also known for the famous French song Sur le Pont d’Avignon.
Place de l’Horloge (Clock’s Square)
The Place de l’Horloge is the main square in Avignon. It’s a beautiful square with a large fountain and a clock tower. The square is surrounded by cafes, shops, and restaurants, making it an excellent place for people watching or grabbing a bite to eat.
The square is also the starting point for many of Avignon’s sightseeing tours. So if you’re interested in learning more about the city’s history and culture, this is a great place to start.
If you’re visiting Avignon in November, the Place de l’Horloge is the site of the Avignon Jazz Festival. This famous festival features some of the best jazz musicians from around the world.
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Avignon Historic Center
The Avignon Historic Center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area includes the Palais des Papes, the Pont d’Avignon, and the historic center of Avignon.
The historic center is a great place to wander and explore. There are narrow streets, charming cafes, and plenty of shops to explore. This is a great place to get a feel for the city and its history.
If you’re interested in learning more about Avignon’s history, there are several museums in the historic center, including the Musee Lapidaire and the Musee Calvet.
The Avignon Cathedral
The Avignon Cathedral is located in the historic center of Avignon. This gothic cathedral was built in the 14th century and is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
In the past, the cathedral was the seat of the Avignon Papacy. Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction and a place of worship for the city’s Catholic community.
The cathedral is open to the public, and you can explore the interior or climb the bell tower for some of the best views of Avignon.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Avignon Papacy, the cathedral is also home to the Musee du Palais des Papes.
This museum tells the story of the papacy in Avignon and features several artifacts from this period.
If you’re visiting Avignon in July, the cathedral is the site of the Avignon Opera Festival. This popular festival features opera performances from some of the world’s best opera companies.
Basilique Saint-Pierre d’Avignon
This Romanesque and Gothic-style cathedral is a must-see when in Avignon. Construction started in the 11th century and wasn’t completed until the 14th century. The bell tower is one of the tallest in France, reaching over 200 feet.
The cathedral’s interior is just as beautiful as the exterior, with stained glass windows, frescoes, and a carved wooden ceiling.
Today the Basilique Saint-Pierre d’Avignon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and should not be missed.
Musée Calvet (Calvet Museum)
The Musée Calvet is one of the most important museums in Avignon and is housed in an 18th-century building. The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and ceramics.
The museum also has a library with over 30,000 books. In addition, the Musee holds art from the 15th-20th century, including works by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Rodin.
A visit to the Musée Calvet is a great way to learn about the history and culture of Avignon. It is open every day except Tuesdays and is a must-stop for art lovers.
Avignon 3-hour Walking Tour & Wine Tasting
Climb the medieval city walls and discover Avignon in all its splendor. Then, explore Avignon’s illustrious history, when the papacy was established in the early 14th century.
Skip the queue and go straight inside the Pope’s Palace, Europe’s largest Gothic castle. Become immersed in this labyrinth of galleries, rooms, and chapels.
Learn about the painted windows ‘ secret on your way to the Place de l’Horloge. The town hall with its clock tower is visible from here and the theater.
This is a fantastic tour if you want to see a lot in a bit of time.
Rue des Teinturiers (Dyers Street)
The Rue des Teinturiers is one of the most picturesque streets in Avignon. It gets its name from the dyers who used to work here. The street is lined with beautiful houses and has a great view of the Rhône River.
The Rue des Teinturiers is a great place to take a walk and explore the town’s former waterwheels.
The charming corner of Avignon was once home to the town’s textile industry. The Sorgue River that flows here was the driving force behind the industry.
Today the area is primarily aesthetic, but four waterwheels may still be seen on the road to remind the formerly flourishing business.
Cross the small footbridges that lead to historical homes or bustling terraces to enjoy a coffee and take in the view.
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Musée du Petit Palais (Small Palace Museum)
The Musée du Petit Palais is a small but impressive art museum located in the former papal palace. The museum has a wide range of artwork from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Some of the highlights include works by Giotto, Botticelli, and Durer.
The Musée du Petit Palais is a great place to learn about the history of Avignon and see some of the most important works of art from this period.
Avignon Les Halles (Food Market)
You will find a true sense of the city at the Avignon Les Halles, a food market located in the city’s heart. This food market is famous in the region, and rightfully so.
As one of the only markets in France to be permanently fixed into the city’s landscape, Avignon Les Halles is truly a place visitors and locals can find community.
This is the perfect place to stock up on fresh produce, cheese, and other delicious snacks for your weekend in Avignon. The indoor market is packed with delicious local eats, from exquisitely prepared pastries to fresh produce straight from the seller’s garden.
Even if you’re not planning on cooking, it’s worth stopping by to take in the sights and smells of this vibrant market. I mean, at least grab a croissant for walking around the city.
Pont du Gard (Gard Bridge)
The Pont du Gard is a massive Roman aqueduct bridge that was built over 2,000 years ago. Because of its exceptional preservation, historical significance, and architectural inventiveness, the ancient Roman Aqueduct joined UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in 1985.
This aqueduct is an engineering wonder and is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture. Visitors can explore the Pont du Gard on a guided tour, including a walk through the aqueduct and a visit to the on-site museum.
The Pont du Gard is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of France, so be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Visit the City’s Art Museums
If you are a lover of art and history, you could spend a whole weekend just exploring the art museums in Avignon. It’s no surprise that museums and exhibitions take center stage in a city like Avignon, which is so steeped in history.
Find yourself immersed in the beauty of art and grandeur when you step into a world of art and majesty, where the buildings housing the displays are just as magnificent as the works on display.
Some of the must-see museums include the Palais des Papes, which is a 14th-century papal palace that now houses a museum with a collection of paintings and sculptures from the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
The Musee Calvet is another excellent option and is home to an impressive collection of 18th-century paintings, sculptures, furniture, and ceramics.
For a truly unique experience, visit the Musee Lambert, which is located in a 17th-century townhouse. The museum houses a contemporary art collection with works by famous artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Picasso.
Barthelasse Island by ferry
Looking for a day away from the hustle and bustle of Avignon, look no further than taking the ferry to Barthelasse Island. The island is located in the Rhone River, and you will be immersed in parks, gardens, and walking trails.
The island is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Visitors can take a ferry from Avignon’s Old Town to reach Barthelasse Island.
Rent a bike on the island and ride around the island’s five kilometers of trails. During those hot summer months, be sure to bring your swimsuit as you can even go for a swim in the river.
Rocher des Doms Gardens
The Rocher des Doms Gardens offer one of Avignon’s best views. The gardens are located on top of a hill, which provides visitors with sweeping views of Avignon and the Rhone River.
In addition to the stunning views, the gardens are also home to a variety of plant life, including Mediterranean plants and trees. Visitors can explore the gardens at their own pace or take a guided tour.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms is a must-see for any visitor to Avignon. The Cathedral is located on top of the Rocher des Doms, which provides visitors with stunning views of Avignon and the surrounding area.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms is a Romanesque-style cathedral that was built in the 12th century. The Cathedral is home to a variety of art and artifacts, including a 13th-century fresco, which is one of the oldest in Avignon.
In addition to exploring the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms, visitors can also climb the stairs to the top of the tower for even more incredible views of Avignon.
Festivals Of Avignon
It seems like there is always something going on in Avignon! In addition, several festivals take place in Avignon throughout the year, so there is sure to be something for everyone.
Some of the most popular festivals include the Avignon Festival, which is a performing arts festival that takes place each July.
The Festival d’Avignon is one of the largest performing arts festivals in all of Europe and features a variety of theater, dance, and music performances.
Other festivals include the Festival de Jazz d’Avignon, which takes place each year in November and features several jazz performers from around the world.
In addition, the Avignon Film Festival is a great festival to attend if you are interested in motion pictures.
The film festival showcases a variety of independent and international films.
3 Excellent Day Trips from Avignon
From Avignon: Half-Day Great Vineyards Tour
From Avignon: Full-Day Experience in Luberon with Lunch
From Avignon: Half-Day Lavender Tour of Luberon
A Brief History of Avignon France
Avignon was first settled by the Celts in the 4th century BC. The Romans came next and conquered the area in 120 BC. They built a bridge over the Rhone River and established a military camp here, which later became a city.
The city gained notoriety in the 14th century when it became the seat of the papacy. Pope Clement V moved the papacy here from Rome in 1309, and Avignon remained the home of the popes for 68 years.
The Avignon Papacy was a time of great prosperity for the city-many palaces and churches were built during this period. The most famous of these is the Palais des Papes, a massive Gothic palace that was the home of the popes.
The papacy eventually returned to Rome, and Avignon entered a period of decline. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the city began to recover-it was a popular destination for artists and intellectuals, who helped revive its cultural life.
Avignon is now a thriving city with a vibrant cultural scene. It’s home to many museums and art galleries and lively nightlife. It’s also a popular destination for tourists, who come to see its historic buildings and beautiful setting on the Rhone River.
How Many Days do You Need in Avignon?
Avignon is one of those small villages that seem to get bigger the longer you stay. While many only make day trips to Avignon to see the most important places, I recommend at least three days to experience the history and culture of the gateway to Provence!
If you’re only in Avignon for a weekend, you’ll need to plan your time carefully to make the most of it. There are so many great things to see and do here, from exploring the historic center, taking the ferry to Barthelasse, and visiting the Palais des Papes.
Where to Stay in Avignon
Depending on your budget and preferences, there are several great places to stay in Avignon. In the summer, you will find your options a bit limited as many people are traveling to this region.
So book as soon as you have your travel plans to get your first choice!
The La Mirande is a stunning option for those looking for luxury accommodations. The restored hotel is located just across the Palais des Papes and is known to be one of the most romantic stays in Avignon.
L’ATELIER is an excellent option for those on a smaller budget. The hotel is located in the city center and has 22 rooms for your choosing! If you find that the hotels are all booked up, there are several Airbnbs in Avignon.
This is a great option if you are wanting a locals’ experience, especially if you are staying in the province a bit longer.