Avignon, Historic Center - Visit time : 1 day.
Avignon is immediately associated with its bridge, known worldwide thanks to the now famous song. But Avignon is also, of course, bathed in history from its reign as capital of the papacy in the 14th century. This glorious period of its past provides visitors an exceptionally rich environment. Avignon also hosts an annual world-renown theater festival. Avignon is all of this, and much more. A bustling and lively city, Avignon is best enjoyed by walking in the heart of the city, absorbing its unique atmosphere and following in the footsteps of its history, religion and culture.
Avignon, capital of Christianity in the Middle Ages, has retained much of its historic center dating from this period. In particular: the Papal Palace, the Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral, the garden of the Rocher des Doms, the Petit Palais, the Tour du Châtelet and the Tours des Chiens, the ramparts between the two, and the famous Pont Saint Benezet. This monumental ensemble was classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1995 as "medieval religious, administrative and military architecture, which played a key role in the development and dissemination of a particular form of culture across a wide area in Europe, at a time of great importance for the development of lasting relationships between the papacy and civil power. "
Criteria for selection
Criteron (i) : The Papal Palace is a unique artistic monument and a masterpiece of creative genius.
Criterion (ii) : The patronage of Pope Clement VI made Avignon an artistic capital whose influence radiated throughout Europe, thanks to the presence of a cosmopolitan group of painters and decorators led by Matteo Giovanetti.
Criterion (iv) : The architecture and interior design of the Papal Palace is a unique example of a 14th century palace-fortress. Due to the technological evolution that it represents, the Pont Saint Benezet is one of the most important medieval bridges in Europe.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS.
History of Avignon
How did Avignon take Rome’s place as the capital of the papacy? In 1309, the Frenchman Bertrand de Got, who was elected and crowned supreme pontiff in 1305, refused to go to Rome and decided to settle in a Dominican convent in Avignon under the name of Clement V. And thus began the great century of the popes in Avignon. Seven popes served from this site until the election of Martin V in 1417, who restored the seat of the papacy in Rome. Clement V’s successor, John XXII, settled in the palace of the former bishop, which he transformed into a Papal Palace on the Rocher des Doms. In turn, his successor, Benedict Xll, gradually destroyed the building and replaced it by what is now called the Palais Vieux (Old Palace). Finally, after Benedict XII, construction was finished under Clement VI.
After the departure of the popes, the city would remain the residence of the Italian Papal legates (representatives of the Pope) for nearly four centuries, until they were expelled during the Revolution by the people of Avignon, who had decided to join France. Today, Avignon has become a vibrant center for arts and culture, and is home to a prestigious contemporary theater festival.
Avignon Tourist Office
Avignon Tourist Office
41 Cours Jean Jaurès , 84000 Avignon
Website - tel : 04 32 74 32 74.
April through October, Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday and holidays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
July and August, open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
November through March, Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Accommodation available for visitors with disabilities.
Numerous thematic tours offered by the Tourist Office in French and English. To visit the city differently, you can opt for the visit by carriage, Segway, bicycle, tuk-tuk.
Family Tour in English offered by Avignon Tourist Office
Avignon on a summer evening (duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)
Full price/ reduced price: €9/ €5.50. Free for children under 8 years old.
Tips for visiting the monuments
The flyer Avignon Passion is issued free of charge upon request at the Tourist Office. The pass holder and accompanying family members (or up to 5 people total) can benefit discounts in all the monuments and museums. How the flyer works: visitors pay full price on their first visit, then discounts on all monument visits thereafter.
Main museums of Avignon
The Petit Palais
Place du Palais des Papes, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel : 04 90 85 44 58.
Full price: €6 / reduced price : €3. Free for children under 12 years old.
Open daily: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.
Themed events, conferences, temporary exhibitions. On site: book store, boutique and tea room.
The museum is housed in an elegant building dating back to 1317, and was originally built around a cloister. The museum presents the Campana collection, which includes a unique collection of 300 Italian paintings from the 13th to the 15th century, as well as medieval sculptures. These works provide an understanding of artistic creation in Italy during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Of particular note is the exhibition "The Virgin and Child" by Sandro Botticelli. Three other rooms are dedicated to the works of Avignon painters and sculptors, who developed a style that incorporated Italian and Flemish influences.
65 Rue Joseph Vernet, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 86 33 84.
Open every day excepted on Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Audio guide in French or English.
The building and the collection together form one of the most poetic and historically charged places in Avignon.
The Ecole d'Avignon is celebrated there, with a panorama of Avignon's artistic creation from the Renaissance to the Revolution. Paintings, sculptures and works of art from the 16th and 17th centuries are honoured.
In addition to artists from the Ecole d'Avignon, the museum also offers a collection of paintings and sculptures from the 15th to the 20th century, enriched by an Egyptian collection.
5 Rue Laboureur, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 82 29 03.
Full price/ reduced price: €8/ €6.50. Free for children under 4 years old.
Open every day excepted on Monday: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In a former private mansion, the museum presents masterpieces by Degas, Cézanne, Sisley, Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh... from the collections of the couturier Jacques Doucet. According to the donors' wishes, the rest of the residence has retained the charm of an interior of art lovers with many paintings, stamped furniture and works of art: 17th and 18th century lounge, Renaissance room, artists' studio, Far East cabinet.
For children: A multimedia application is available for children aged 4-11 years old, allowing them to discover the place as a treasure hunt. The tablets are provided at the reception desk with explanations of use.
Palais du Roure, Provençal culture centre
3 Rue Collège de Roure, 84000 Avignon
Tel: 04 13 60 50 01.
Guided tour in French and English from Tuesday to Saturday at 11 a.m. Full price/ reduced price: €5/ €3.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to -1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Museum of Mediterranean culture, more specifically dedicated to Provence, its history, traditions, language and literature. Important collection of bells.
This site bears witness to the history of a large Avignon family and to an architecture that has been constantly remodelled since the 15th century. For five centuries, from 1469 to 1908, the Baroncelli family, originally from Florence (Italy), occupied the Gothic residence, which was transformed in the 17th century into a private mansion. In the 19th century, Frederic Mistral gave it the name "Palais du Roure".
5 Rue Violette, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 16 56 20.
Full price/ reduced price: €10/ €8. 6-12 years old: €2. Free - 6 years old.
Open every day except Monday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Permanent and temporary exhibitions.
The Lambert Collection was created in 2000 by Yvon Lambert who wanted to present his personal collection of contemporary art to the public. It reflects the great movements of art of our time: Minimal art, Conceptual art, Land art, paintings from the 80’s, video and photography for the 90's.
Artists include: Cy Twombly, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Niele Toroni, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anselm Kiefer, Christian Boltanski, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon and Jenny Holzer.
Main events of the year in Avignon
Cheval Passion (Janvier)
Website - tel: 04 90 84 02 04.
The Hivernales (february)
Website - tel: 04 28 70 43 43.
The Avignon Festival (july)
Official Avignon Festival
Website - tel: 04 90 14 14 14.
Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, the Avignon Festival is now one of the most important international events in contemporary performing arts (theater, dance, visual arts or music). Each year in July, Avignon dons its theater costume, transforming its architectural sites into various venues. Around fifty shows of varying performance styles attract more than 100,000 spectators during the three weeks of the festival. Certain festival shows are also geared toward children and families.
Avignon OFF Festival: AF&C Association
Website - tel: 04 90 85 13 08.
In fact, two festivals coexist during this period : the Official Avignon Festival (administered by a board of trustees from local governments and organizations) and the "Off" Festival, which is run by non-profit organizations such as theater companies. It offers more than 1,000 shows and attracts 650,000 spectators to a hundred places around the city.
Festival Résonance (late July)
A music festival that hosts contemporary concerts at the most famous historical sites. The festival offers a wide range of musical genres: electronic, hip-hop, soul, funk, rock ...
The Luminessences of Avignon (August and September)
Sound and light show with video projection in the heart of the Palais des Papes.
The ban des vendanges (late August)
The Ban des Vendanges, a festival to celebrate the beginning of the grape harvest.
Médiévales des Carmes
(second weekend of September)
This medieval fair takes place at the era-appropriate architectural ensemble. Features dueling knights, medieval crafts, magicians and jugglers, a medieval banquet, troubadours, a tavern, activities and games for children. Free admission and entertainment.
Medieval of the Golden Rose (October 2019, every two years)
Several thousand passionate people bring the Middle Ages back to life: reconstructions, musical strolls, battles, medieval markets, archery tournaments...
This is the largest medieval gathering in the south of France! 70 French troops and 20 foreign troops, representing about 1500 participants.
Christmas Festivities (December)
Numerous activities in the city, for whole family
Markets in Avignon
Main market (covered) : Place Pie (open Tuesday to Friday: 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Farmers’ Market (open-air): On monday from June through September. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. On the car park, boulevard de l'Oulle.
Getting to Avignon
From Marseille: Highway A7, exit Avignon Sud
From Orange and Lyon: Highway A7, exit Avignon Nord
From Nimes and Montpellier: Highway A9, exit Remoulins
From Arles: D570
Nearby classified sites
Orange: 30 km (18.5 mi), time: 30 minutes
Pont du Gard: 27 km (17 mi), time: 30 minutes
Arles: 37 km (23 mi), time: 50 minutes
Avignon Caumont Airport (8 kms)
Website - tel: 04 90 81 51 51.
Connection to the city by taxi only.
Marseille-Provence Airport (65 kms)
Website - tel: 08 20 81 14 14.
Direct connection by train to Avignon city center (14 trains per day). By car : 45 minutes.
Website - Tel: 04 66 70 49 49. Shuttles not available.
Gare TGV of Avignon (3.5 km from the city center)
Quartier de la courtine, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel: 36 35 or 08 92 35 35 35.
Direct trains to Paris (2 hours, 40 minutes) and to Lyon (1 hour).
Frequent shuttles to the city center.
Gare SNCF Avignon Center
Boulevard Saint-Roch, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel: 36 35.
Getting Around Avignon
The city center of Avignon is easily explored on foot, and it is not necessary to drive in the city.
Free parking : Free, secured parking lots, with a complementary shuttle to the city center:
Parking de l’Ile Piot (toward Villeneuve on the other side of the Rhone River). Open 7/7 and 24/24 during the summer.
Parking des Italiens (near the Porte Saint-Lazare). Located on the Avenue des Italians. Open Monday to Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cycling: Avignon has 135 kilometers of bike paths.
Website - tel : 08 10 45 64 56.
Self-service bicycles available 7/7 and 24/24 in terminals across the city.
Website - tel : 04 32 74 18 32.
Price: €0,50 per trip.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Small electric vehicle available for rent to visit the city. Stop by a simple sign of the hand.
The mini train
Website - 04 90 85 47 13 or 06 10 32 85 24.
Adult: €9 / children under 12 years old: €6. Free under 4 years old.
March through October, every day 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
July and August, every day until 8 p.m.;
October through March: Wednesdays and Saturdays only: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Guided tour of the city in 10 languages (40 minutes). Departure and arrival at the Papal Palace every 30 minutes.
The Shuttle Boat (from April through October)
Free river crossing (Rhone), round-trip from the quay (at the foot of the Avignon Bridge) to Barthelasse Island. Visitors may cross with bicycles. Beautiful picnic areas set up along the Rhone. Departures every 15 minutes.
Accommodation in Avignon
The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer quality services at competitive rates, they are considered as references in their respective categories. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people. Note: during the Festival (July) rates may increase significantly. Inquire beforehand.
B&B "La Bastide des Anges"
Situated on the île de la Barthelasse, 1634 chemin des vignes, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel : 04 90 82 56 04.
Room from €105.
Located 5km from the historical center, you will find 5 charming rooms, with swimming pool and secure parking. Homemade breakfasts served in an atmosphere of serenity and a spirit of conviviality. Closed from mid-December through mid-March..
Hôtel de l'Horloge****
Place de l'Horloge, 1 Rue Félicien David, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel: 04 90 16 42 00.
Room from €89.
In a fine stone building of the XIXth century, the hotel proposes 66 enjoyable rooms highlighted with warm colours of the region. Certain have terraces offering a panoramic view over the Popes Palace.
Restaurants in Avignon
The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are inside or nearby the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert," for lunch or dinner.
Ginette et Marcel - French fast food
27 Place des corps saints, 84000 Avignon
Tel: 04 90 85 58 70
Sandwiches (french tartines) from €4.
L'ami voyage en compagnie - restaurant and bookstore
5 Rue Prévôt, 84000 Avignon
Tel : 04 90 82 41 51
Main course around €10.
Simple Simon - Restaurant and tea room
26 Rue de la Petite Fusterie, 84000 Avignon
Tel : 04 90 86 62 70
Price from €12.
Naka - Japanese cuisine
4 Place de la Principale, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 82 15 70.
"Menu" from €13.50.
La Cuisine des Copains - Traditional cuisine
6 Place des Châtaignes, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 09 82 51 88 86.
"Lunch Formule" €14. "Menu" €29.
Open from Monday to Friday.
Le 46 - local cuisine and wine bar
46 Rue de la Balance, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tél: 04 90 85 24 83.
Main course around €18.
Numéro 75 - mediterranean cuisine
75 Rue Guillaume Puy, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 27 16 00.
"Lunch menu" €32. "Dinner menu" €38.50.
Les 5 Sens - refined local cuisine
18 Rue Joseph Vernet, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 85 26 51.
"Lunch Formule" €22. "Dinner menu" from €39.
L'Epicerie - local cuisine
10 Place Saint Pierre, 84000 Avignon
Tel: 04 90 82 74 22.
"Lunch formule" €15.90.
Hiély-Lucullus - creative cuisine with seasonal products
5 Rue de la République, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 86 17 07.
"Lunch menu" €35. "Dinner menu" from €45.
L'Essentiel - local cuisine
2 Rue Petite fusterie, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel: 04 90 85 87 12.
"Lunch menu" €25. "Dinner menu" from €36.
La Fourchette - refined and creative cuisine
17 Rue Racine, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 85 20 93.
La Vieille Fontaine - gourmet cuisine
12 Place Crillon, 84000 Avignon
Website - Tel: 04 90 14 76 76.
"Lunch menu" €38. "Dinner menu" from €46.
Christian Etienne - gourmet cuisine
10 rue de Mons, 84000 Avignon
Website - tel: 04 84 88 51 27.
"Lunch menu" €35. "Dinner menu" from €85.