Travel Tips How to Spend a Day in Avignon
Looking for suggestions for what to do in Avignon for a day? Keep reading Ashley’s guest to learn about this beautiful city in France. If you only have one day to enjoy the city, select the monuments you want to visit so that you can enjoy Avignon to the fullest. For this reason, we have prepared a few tips to enjoy this historical city to the most:
Avignon Day Trip Map
The city of Avignon, without a doubt, deserves a visit of longer than a single day, as it is very charming and pleasant. However, if you are short on time, it is possible to optimize your tour to get to know the city better, without losing its essence. Check out the map (below) you can follow to get to know Avignon and take advantage of a limited timeframe.
Brief History of Avignon
The city has more than 2,000 years of history and was the capital of Christianity in the 14th century when it became the residence of the popes. Surrounding the old section of Avignon, are a series of imposing series of ramparts. These stone walls guard the Palais des Papes, a palace of impressive size, with 25+ rooms, chapels, a cemetery and gardens. The Palace was constructed at the height of the power of the Catholic clergy at that time.
Also, within the walls (intra-muros) of the city are the Cathedral and the Petit Palais (a museum today). Outside the walls, is the beautiful Saint-Bénézet bridge, built in the 13th century over the Rhône River and barely survived history, until it was rebuilt in the 17th century.
Spend the Day in Avignon
To enjoy your day, choose to stay in Avignon and wake up early. In the morning, go to the Les Halles market in the city, there you will find a great variety of foods, and you can have a delicious breakfast.
Then stroll through the city center, discovering the narrow and charming streets. Then, go to the wonderful Palais des Papes, a gigantic building that is a symbol of the city. Spend a few hours there and then take a break for lunch.
After lunch, take the opportunity to visit the famous bridge the Pont Saint- Bénézet, the postcard (and song) of Avignon. When you’re there, pay close attention to the plaque with the history of the place, as it’s super interesting!
Head to the top of the hill; the Rocher des Doms is the cradle of Avignon. Reach the hilltop via the steps leading from the Cathedral Notre Dame des Doms, the Sainte-Anne stairs or from the banks of the Rhône. In the middle of the pond, the Venus with Swallows is a work by Félix Charpentier; its nudity caused it to be moved, in 1894, from the Place Carnot to here. Discover the “analemmatic” solar calendar and the statues of some famous men of Avignon, such as Jean Althen. At the top of the hill is a broad esplanade with an orientation table that offers excellent views of Mont Ventoux, the Rhône River, Barthelasse Island and Villeneuve les Avignon with the Saint-André Fort.
Head to Rue de la République, where you will find several streets full of boutiques selling local goods, clothing and French products.
After shopping, end your day in Place de L’Horloge. Don’t skip the “Clock Tower Square” it is the main square and heart of Avignon. It is here where you find visitors and locals dining and socializing at one of many outdoor restaurants and cafes on the square. Place de l’Horloge is also the venue for annual events such as the Festival d’Avignon.
Ashley Halsey writes professionally at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays and has been involved in many projects throughout the country. Mother of two children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending business training courses.
Ideas for a Longer Stay in Avignon
Artist and art lover Marti Schmidt fell in love with a small museum in Avignon. On one of my many visits to beautiful Avignon France, I found a little hidden jewel. I spent an enjoyable afternoon in the Musée Angladon-Dubrujeaud, a small and intimate museum, which displays the art collection of famous Parisian couturier and art collector Jacques Doucet.
Avignon Musées concept showcases the incredible artistic heritage of the city (and region) and collection of artifacts, via shared programming across five (5) museums. For a relatively small geography, the Avignon collection is immense. There are 1,200,000 works of art, objects of interest and archival documents. These pieces include prehistoric artifacts, Greco-Roman sculptures, Italian Renaissance art, works from the Impressionist period and modern works. Read more here.
Summer Festivals in Avignon
The OFF Festival in Avignon has all kinds of performing arts; theatre, book readings (classic and modern texts), circus acts, dance, music, and street performances. There is something for everyone. The full program is available online in mid-June, and the subscription cards go on sale at the same time for up to 30% off on shows.
The original Festival d’Avignon (IN Festival) is also a series of theatrical performances that run every July since Jean Vilar created the event in 1947. This Festival has an annual budget of roughly 12 million euros, and you must buy tickets in advance for performances that are staged in beautiful, historical venues in the city, including the Cloister of the Carmelites, the Carrière de Boulbon, and the Court of the Palais des Papes.
Where to Stay in Avignon?
Travel specialist Mary Kay Seales shared the following. I’ve stayed at a variety of hotels and B&Bs in and outside the city walls, but my favourite is a stylish B&B called Le Limas, owned and operated by artist Marion Wagner. If you’re lucky and book early, you might be able to get one of her four gorgeous rooms for your stay in Avignon.
It took over 600 years to open this luxurious bed and breakfast in the heart of Avignon. La Divine Comédie is a jewel of a guest house with five suites and a magical garden, the successful outcome of the owners Amaury de Villoutreys and Gilles Jauffret’s vision. They purchased the property in 2009 and began the work of restoring the building and landscaping back to its former glory, as the 14th C palace and offices of Cardinal Amédée de Saluces the Popes’ minister of Foreign Affairs (Europe).
And, a fun read: Death in Avignon.