Avignon France, Avignon Papacy, Avignon France Map
Avignon is a charming city, with narrow winding streets, trendy shops, museums, and excellent restaurants.
We’ve put together some ideas for places to visit, shop, and eat. We’ll also give you a little background on the Avignon Papacy, which is such an important part of the city’s history.
Avignon is in the Vaucluse département of Provence (see map below), and is one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating from around 3000BC. It has wonderful Gothic architecture – the Palais des Papes being an outstanding example.
Streets of Avignon
Avignon France: Getting Here and Around
Avignon can get very crowded, especially in July during the annual Avignon Festival. If you can, try and visit in spring or autumn.
Avignon is easy to get to from Paris.
The main tourist attractions lie within the old town, which is surrounded by medieval ramparts. It’s easy to get around by foot and you can cover alot in one day. Here are the contact details of the tourist office where you can pick up maps and info.
Office de Tourisme d’Avignon
41, cours Jean Jaures
84000 Avignon cedex1
tél. 04 32 74 32 74
fax 04 90 82 95 03
If you’re planning on visiting a few of the sights, you can buy the Avignon Carte Pass (you can get them at the tourist office) which gives you up to 50% reductions in entry fees.
If you are driving, the main parking lot is under the Place du Palais (the square in front of the Palace itself). We winged it and found a spot just outside the city walls.
Palais des Papes
The Palais des Papes was the official residence of no less than seven popes between 1309 and 1377 (a period referred to as the Babylonian Captivity of the popes).
The palace has had an eventful history: it was in the hands of antipapal forces from 1378 to 1408; in 1791 it was a scene of a massacre during the French Revolution; later it was used as a prison and military barracks.
If you’d like to have a look inside, allow about an hour to explore. You can get an audio guide in English which is highly recommended. The old Palace was built between 1334 and 1342; the New Palace was finished in 1348. You can have a look at their website for their opening times.
If you want a good view of the palace from the outside (ie so you can get the whole palace to fit in the photo frame of your camera!) – go to the chemin des Berges on the Ile de la Barthelasse (we’ve marked it on the map). Or you could go to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon across the river.
The Famous Bridge of Avignon France
The twelfth century bridge, The Pont Saint Bénézet, is also really impressive. Only four of the original 22 arches still remain (parts of the bridge were swept away during a flood in 1668). There is a small chapel on one of the piers of the bridge, which is where Saint Bénezet is buried.
More great things to see and do
Ok…we’ve covered the biggies, now here are some tips and advice on other great places to visit and where to eat and shop.
Avignon France Theatre Festival
Avignon hosts a theatre festival every year between July and August. The festival is one of the best and biggest in the world. Just be prepared for lots of people – thousands show up to see this festival and it’s growing every year. Accommodation also gets booked up months in advance.
There are two festivals – the official one, and a fringe festival called Festival Off.
Here are their websites for more information.
www.festival-avignon.com; (the official festival)
www.avignonfestivaletcompagnies.com/index.php (the fringe festival)
There are some great small museums/art galleries in Avignon.
- The Musee Angladon-Dubrujeaud, in the Hotel de Massilian on Rue du Laboureur, displays works from Picasso, Degas, Cézanne and Manet.
- The Musee Calvet, just off Rue Joesph Vernet, has Delacroix, Corot and Manet.
- If you’re into more contemporary art, The Collection Lambert, in the Hôtel de Caumont is worth a visit.
- The Musée du Petit Palais has a great collection of Italian sculptures, frescoes, and religious paintings from Botticelli and Giovanni di Paolo.
Where to Shop, Eat and Have a Coffee
In our experience, Rue Joseph-Vernet and Rue St Agricol have been the best places to check out (marked on the map). There are also some good restaurants on Rue Racine. Rue Galante has some good chinese, japanese and spanish restaurants.
The area around the main square in front of the Palais des Papes is mostly rip off material:-).
And last but not least…
The Dome Rock (Rocher des Doms) is a park up the hill from the Cathédrale Notre Dame des Doms. If you go up there you’ll get an amazing view of the Pont d’Avignon as well as the Ventoux and Dentelles de Montmirail mountains. Lovely spot for a picnic…
Here is a close up view of Avignon. You can click on the plus or minus signs to zoom in and out. Click on the marker to get the destination name.
Around the Region of Avignon France
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Some of the prettiest scenery in Provence is around Avignon. Here are some other places you can visit that are nearby. We have also put together a map of Provence with all the destinations marked to help plan your holiday in Avignon France.
Just over the river from Avignon (north on the map) is the town of Villeneuve-lès- Avignon. Although not technically in the Vaucluse département it is still worth visiting while you’re in Avignon. You can walk there in about half an hour.
Villeneuve-lès-Avignon is quite a wealthy suburb and where many of the locals to Avignon live.
It also has plenty of historical monuments that could rival Avignon – such as the Fort St André, a medieval fortress; a monastery, and impressive 14th century churches.
It also has some nice BandBs and restaurants – it’s a good base if you’re looking for other things to do around Avignon.
Vanasque to Sénanque
The road between Vanasque and Sénanque is beautiful and very scenic. Here you will find:
- the village perché of Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France. It has fantastic panoramic views of the Luberon mountains.
- The Sénanque Abbey in the valley below is also interesting to visit – the monks grow lavendar and honey.
- The cliff-top village of Venasque is also very pretty.