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10 things to do and see in Avignon

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Avignon in 1, 2 or 3 days

Known to all as the City of Popes, this beautiful Occitan town owes much of its beauty to the period (since 1307) during which the Pope and his entourage lived in the city. The quiet little French town became a permanent construction site, “the second Rome”, as it was renamed.

The Palace of the Pope is certainly the most important thing to see but do not miss a view of the nearby “Little Palace” a museum with works by great artists, including Botticelli. Another museum hosts  a beautiful gallery of works from 1700 to 1900: is the Angladon, built by a wealthyParisian industrialist, which now houses the only Van Gogh painting in Avignon and works of Degas, Manet, Cezanne, Picasso and Modigliani. If you are not interested in museums, we suggest you to go in the city in July and enjoy the Avignon Festival, an explosion of music, theatre, dance and any other form of artistic representation was invented! Obviously you are in France and Provence, then you will eat and drink well above all because it is a culinary capital and a centre for the production of Cotes du Rhone, excellent wine.

In this page we suggest you  10 things to do and see absolutely during your holiday in Avignon.

If you are looking for a hotel in Avignon, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 80 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Palais des Papes - The Palace of the Popes in Avignon

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When in 1305 Pope Clement V was forced to run away from Rome, he took refuge in Avignon. The small, unknown Occitan town, became, by that time the new capital of Catholicism. But with the Pope and his court of priests, arrived in Avignon businessmen, merchants, prostitutes, thieves and murderers.

Palais des Papes - The Palace of the Popes in Avignon
Palais des Papes – The Palace of the Popes in Avignon

This kind of people  is around the Palace of the Popes, which was built in just 20 years. To decorate and beautify the Old Palace and the New one  was called Matteo Giovannetti, . Although without its historic furnishings, the Palace of the Popes is a must-see of Avignon. Do not miss the Consistory Hall, one of the Great Audience with the great wheel that gives its name to the Roman Rota Court, the Main Chapel.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When:
September 1 to November 1: 9 am – 7 pm. November 2 to  Février 29: 9:30 a.m. – 5.45 pm March: 9 am – 6.30 pm.
1 April to 30 June: 9 am – 7 pm.
July: 9 am – 8 pm.
August: 9 am – 8.30 pm.
Ticket: € 10.50 single ticket. € 13 with the St Benezet Bridge visit

The St.Bénézet Bridge in Avignon

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The Avignon Bridge was 900 meters long and had 22 arches. It connected Avignon to the town of Villeneuve.

The St.Bénézet Bridge in Avignon
The St.Bénézet Bridge in Avignon

Its construction is linked to a legend, the one about the shepherd Benezetwho was called from an angel to build the bridge and had to convince the bishop and the Avignon citizens. He did it lifting a huge rock and throwing it into the Rhone.

The rock is still there, visible to those who believe in legends. When it was built the bridge was a true masterpiece of engineering: nearly 1 km long and 22 arches that have survived for centuries to the fury of the river, until two floods (1644 and 1669) almost destroyed it, living only the current 4 arches. It is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the nearby Palace of the Popes.

The Museum of the Petit Palais in Avignon

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The Petit Palais in Avignon actually is not small because it is 3,000 square meters. But he was named in this way to “respect” the largest and most important Palais des Papes.

The Museum of the Petit Palais in Avignon
The Museum of the Petit Palais in Avignon

Built during the Avignon captivity, it was the seat of the archbishops and now houses a unique art collection.

Particularly valuable the collection of 300 works of Italian art from 1300 to 1400. There are paintings by Carlo Crivelli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Cecco di Pietro, Lorenzo di Bicci, Sano di Pietro and manyother. The highlight of the collection is a Madonna and Child by Sandro Botticelli.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When: every day excluded : Tuesday, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December. From 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 to 6 pm
Ticket: € 3

The Angladon Museum in Avignon

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In Angladon Museum there is the only work of Van Gogh (Wagons train) remained in Provence of about 300 that the artist painted during his years between Arles and St-Remy.

The Angladon Museum in Avignon
The Angladon Museum in Avignon

This already justifies a visit but the small Avignon museum hides other masterpieces of the most important painters from 1700 to 1900: Degas, Daumier, Manet, Sisley, Forain, Cézanne, Picasso and Modigliani.

The museum, wanted by the Parisian rich industrialist Doucet, is organized as an house of a wealthy art lover, then the paintings are included in a typical home environment, including a lounge with antique furniture and a sumptuous bedroom!

Where: in the old town centre. Rue Labourer 5
How to get there: by feet
When: From Wednesday to Sunday 1 – 6 pm
Ticket: € 6

Notre Dame des DomsCathedral in Avignon

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There are many different theories about the origin of this name: it is believed that Doms may result from Domo Episcopal (Bishop’s House), des Doms (the rock on which it stands), de Domnis (Lord) or perhaps Dompjon (Tower in old French).

Notre Dame des DomsCathedral in Avignon
Notre Dame des DomsCathedral in Avignon

However, it is the most important church in Avignon, city cathedral, built in the twelfth century. On the top there is the statue of the Virgin Mary (6 meters and 4500 pounds) . The singularity of the statue (as well as the size), is the absence of the figure of the Child Jesus, but it is not new to this church. Also inside there is a statue of the Virgin Mary who prays to save Avignon from the plague in 1834.The statue that gives the church its name is placed in the second chapel on the left: it is Our Lady desDoms, with a Child and sceptre.

Where: close to the Palais des Popes
How to get there: by feet
Ticket: free entrance

Place de l'Horloge in Avignon

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It is not a great square, but it is certainly majestic and full of life. In the last few years the tables of the cafés and restaurants, real traps for careless tourists, havereduced the spaces and making it a very commercial square.

Place de l'Horloge in Avignon
Place de l’Horloge in Avignon

Place de l’Horloge is still the most important square of Avignon and remains an obligatory point of passage for tourists and citizens. The old-fashioned horse carousel is one of the most photographed subjects of Avignon. It takes its name from the clock that is located on top of City Hall, and that in fact it is almost invisible from the square itself. Place de l’Horloge is the central point of the exhibitions of the Avignon Festival (see point 8) and any other more or less important event for the city.

Les Luminessences in Avignon

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This is really a nice example of how you can take an historical monument and make it interesting for everyone, adults and children, and how to hire people in tourism sector. Unfortunately, it is active only from 15 August to 28 September, but the show Les Luminessences in Avignon is well worth a visit.

Les Luminessences in Avignon
Les Luminessences in Avignon

It is a spectacle in 3D that is projected on the Palace of the Popes, to narrate, with sounds and images, the history of Avignon, from its splendour to decadence.

A very innovative way to share knowledge about a place. The show lasts 45 minutes and the narrator voice  is French, but you can peacefully enjoy it all without knowing a single word of the language!

Where: in the Palais des Popes courtyard
How to get there: by feet
When: 15th August – 28th September two shows each night
Ticket: € 10. You can buy the ticket only www.lesluminessences-avignon.com

The Avignon Festival

8

There are only two possibilities: you know the Avignon Festival and you want to go there, then it’s time to book a hotel, because otherwise you will not find it. Or you do not know the Avignon Festival and then try to pass through the Provençal town in July and you will find out that until now you missed a great show.

The Avignon Festival
The Avignon Festival

More than 40 shows are organized in Avignon, from small chapels to the courtyard of the Palace of the Popes. Street artists, actors, musicians, photographers, writers are in every corner of the city, transforming it into a huge set and place of culture. The Festival lasts 3 weeks and the full program is available anytime  on the official website: www.festival-avignon.com

Things to eat in Avignon

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Avignon is primarily a French wine capital thanks to the Cotes du Rhone. Then, Avignon is competing with Arles to be the gastronomy capital of Provence.

Things to eat in Avignon
Things to eat in Avignon

The area around the City of the Popes is a huge vegetable garden, legumes and fruits, so the protagonists of the local dishes: garlic and oil, ratatouille (vegetable stew), bohemian (tomato and eggplant), tian (tomatoes and zucchini) are always on local tables. But if you want to try two local dishes, you have to taste the Daube avignonnaise, leg of veal marinated in white wine with local herbs or the berlinguette, hard-boiled eggs with anchovy pie.

Where to sleep in Avignon

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Avignon has a great touristic tradition and a good hotel offer, B&Bs and room for rental. Costs for a double room start from € 80 in a three star hotel located downtown.

Where to sleep in Avignon
Where to sleep in Avignon

Thanks to its weather, Avignon is a crowded city in each time of the year, in particular since spring to summer. So we suggest you to book in advance .

If you are looking for a hotel in Avignon, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 80 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com