A vivid city with plenty of cultural attractions, Avignon is a popular tourist destination in the south of France.
Over time, Avignon has gained a reputation for its thriving arts scene. The city is most lively during the Festival d’Avignon, a theatrical festival held each July with ticketed performances in theatres and impromptu street performances throughout the city.
The Walled City is the cultural heart of Avignon, surrounded, as the name would suggest, by 4.3 kilometres of ramparts. Built between 1359 and 1370, the ramparts were restored in the 19th century. The moat system that sat outside the fortifications no longer exists, lending the sturdy stone ramparts a useless, purely decorative air.
Avignon is also home to one of the most famous, and certainly most sung about, bridges in the world: the Pont d’Avignon (also known as Pont Saint Bénézet). Built in the early 12th century, the Pont is the ruins of a much larger bridge and no longer leads anywhere. Its beauty is worth the stroll.
One of the best things about Avignon is its food and wine scene. Wine grapes, lemons, tomatoes, thyme, and rosemary are typical elements in the local cuisine. Head to the Place de l’Horloge to sample the wines and delicacies of the Provence region.
Cruise ships dock either at the Quai de l’Oulle or near the Pont Saint Bénézet Bridge, both in the centre of Avignon.
Facilities near the ports in Avignon include:
- Tourist information centres
- Public toilets
- Restaurants and cafés
- Souvenir stores
- Bank and ATMs
- Medical centre and pharmacy
- Post office.
How To Get Around
Avignon is a small city and easily navigated on foot. All the main attractions and historic sites are concentrated in the Walled City, so be prepared to walk along cobbled streets. An alternative mode of transport is to hail a ‘Baladine’ from anywhere in the city. These seven-seater electric powered vehicles are a cross between a bus and a taxi, and they follow a circular route throughout the Walled City. They do not run on Sundays, except in July. Another option is the ‘Petit Train’, a train-like bus with open carriages that runs a circular route throughout the Walled City. The Petit Train trip takes 40 minutes and an audio commentary is provided in several languages (including English). Cycling is another easy way to traverse Avignon; bikes can be hired from many locations in the Walled City.
Travel times from the ports of Avignon:
- It is a 5 to 10 minute journey to Palais du Papes
- It is a 6 to 13 minute journey to Rocher des Doms
- It is a 10 to 14 minute journey to Collection Lambert.
- It is a 1 to 3 minute journey to Rocher des Doms
- It is a 4 to 5 minute journey to Collection Lambert
- It is a 6 to 7 minute journey to Palais du Papes.
- It is a 3 to 5 minute journey to Rocher des Doms
- It is a 6 to 7 minute journey to Collection Lambert
- It is a 7 to 8 minute journey to Palais du Papes.
- Currency – The currency in Avignon is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
- Time Zone – Avignon follows Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Between March and October, daylight savings comes into effect and Avignon movies to 2 hours ahead of UTC.
- Weather – Avignon enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with dry, warm summers and mild winters for Western Europe. July is the hottest month in Avignon, with temperatures averaging around 24 degrees Celsius. January is the coolest month, with temperatures averaging at 6 degrees Celsius.
- Palais du Papes – High on a hill, overlooking Avignon, stands one of the most infamous buildings in the Christian world. In the 12th century, Avignon, rather than Rome, was the centre of Catholicism. A rebellious group of Cardinals usurped the authority of the popes in Rome and established themselves in the Palais du Papes (Popes’ Palace). This papal association granted the city a treasury of art and grand architecture, including this enormous medieval fortress-turned-papal-palace. As one of the largest Gothic buildings in Europe, the palace has stunning treasures and architectural features. The walls are 3 metres thick and the palace features several traditional fortifications such as watchtowers and a portcullis. Highlights include the Grand Chapel, a cavernous space decorated with beautiful frescoes, and the audio tour.
- Collection Lambert – This 18th century mansion of gallery owner and collector Yvon Lambert has been turned into a contemporary art space. This collection began with the donation of 350 artworks from Lambert’s personal collection, and today boasts more than 1,200 artworks from the 1960s to the present day. Each year, the gallery holds three exhibitions with work from diverse artists including photographic and conceptual installations.
- Rocher des Doms – Take a 5-minute stroll up the hill to Rocher des Doms, a beautiful garden on a rocky outcrop offering stunning views of Avignon, the Rhône and the surrounding countryside. The birthplace of Avignon, a settlement began here in the Stone Ages, and, in the medieval era, windmills were built here to access the Mistral (a fierce Provencal wind). Today, the site has 29,000 square metres of landscaped gardens and a shaded pond. The Rocher des Doms is dotted with a few observation tables around the perimeter, which point out the landmarks in the surrounding area, and signs throughout the gardens detailing the history of the park. Facilities at the park include a snack bar, numerous bench seats, a picnic area, public toilets and a children’s playground.