As a travel blogger I love exploring new towns and cities so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a day in the beautiful city of Avignon. As the city centre is just 1 hour 30 from Montpellier, taking a day trip to Avignon couldn’t be easier. Like most of my Winter/Spring day trips in France the weather really wasn’t playing ball. So unfortunately, cold, wet and grey was the backdrop. Thankfully it didn’t take too much away from the beauty of this place.
I wanted to write a post to show you the best things to do in Avignon over a 24 hour period.
What to See and Do in Avignon
Explore the Palais Des Papes
The Palace of the Popes is one of the most well known monuments in French history. Avoiding political unrest in Rome back in the 14th century, pope Clement V (elected in 1305) moved the papal power to Avignon a city in the heart of Provence. The palace took 3 pope reigns to fully build and is actually 2 palaces joined together.
It’s the largest medieval/gothic building in the world!
Now a tourist attraction the Palais Des Papes see’s hundreds of visitors a day (around 650,000 visitors a year!). It’s one of the most visited attractions in France.
Inside you can discover the full history of the palace. See the palace in augmented reality with the interactive Histopad tablet. As you walk around you can see exactly how the historical interior used to look.
If technology isn’t your forte then there’s also the option to have a guided tour – although these are only in French.
For more details take a look at the Palais Des Papes Website http://www.palais-des-papes.com
Enjoy the Musée du Petit Palais
Do you like museums? This museum and art gallery in the center of Avignon has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings. Housed in a 14th-century building, the museum is overlooked by the encompassing Palais Des Papes. Opened in 1976 the museum currently holds about 390 paintings and 600 sculptures.
Soak up Atmosphere at Les Halles Market
This covered market is the perfect place to grab some delicious food before heading to Jardin des Doms for a picnic with a view. If you’re not picnic-ing then the Halles Market is the perfect place to grab a bite, a drink and soak up the atmosphere.
Open every morning from Tuesday to Sunday, the market in the heart of Avignon is known for being one of the best in the Provence region. Whether it’s a chef looking for the freshest ingredients or a local resident enjoying oysters, you’re sure to find a wide variety of characters here.
Stroll around The Parc Rocher des Doms
This beautiful parc and Jardins des Doms are situated at the summit of the rocky hill. From here you gave a brilliant view of both the Palais Des Papes and the Avignon Bridge (more on that later). It’s quite a hike up if you’re coming from the bridge, so be prepared.
In the gardens you’ll find a lovely picnic area as well as a bar, restaurant and a playground. If you enjoy strolling around beautiful gardens and seeing magnificent viewpoints, then don’t miss out. On a clear day you can even see all the way to Mount Ventoux.
Dance on The Pont St-Bénezet
Known as being one of the most famous bridges in France thanks to an old French nursery rhyme the Pont St-Bénezet has a long history. Also known as the Pont d’Avignon (Avignon bridge), was originally built between 1177 and 1185. Made out of wood, the bridge was destroyed 40 years later when Louis VIII of France laid siege to Avignon. In 1234 the bridge was rebuilt with stone. Although, work was abandoned thanks to the rapid and regularly flooding Rhône river causing the arches to collapse. Now, there stands just 4 arches of the bridge. Along with the Palais Des papes and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms, the Pont d’avignon has been classified as a World Heritage Site.
“Sur le Pont d’Avignon” is a famous French children’s song about the bridge. It’s ridiculously catchy and once you hear it, it’ll be stuck in your head for days. Naturally, I’ve posted the video below for you to have a listen. The song is about dancing on/under the bridge so why not give it a go.
Get Lost in the City Centre
One of my favourite ways to see any town or city is by turning of the google maps, and just walking. Normally I get lost, but that’s all part of the adventure.
In Avignon you can walk along the cobbled streets of the historical town. Window shop along the high street. You can even search for the Trompe-l’oeil frescoes, there’s over 50! Trompe-l’œil is an art technique that creates optical illusions and is really common throughout France. In Avignon you’ll find plenty of painted windows commemorating a past Festival d’Avignon.
Basic hotel right in the heart of Avignon city centre. Perfect for one night stays and those looking for a cheap, easy, no frills stay. Just 5 minutes from bus and rail stations, this hotel is easily accessible and you can book from just 33 euros a night.
A 5minute stroll from the Palais Des Papes sits this gorgeous boutique hotel. It’s my midrange pick due to the amazing location, stunning rooms and low price. The hotel is nestled in an 18th century building, with beautiful interiors and exteriors. Breakfast is homemade and the customer service from the owners Emmanuelle and Stéphane is perfect.
This stunning 5* hotel sits directly opposite the Palais des Papes and is perfect for guests wanting luxury. Whether it’s a honeymoon, birthday or just because, this hotel is extravagant yet wonderful. Charming and historic, this boutique hotel also houses a very popular restaurant to make your stay even more delightful.
Have you been to Avignon yet? Follow me on Instagram to see more photos from this beautiful city…