Avignon is the beating heart of Provence, a small city with a big presence.
Must-sees in Avignon
The main attraction in Avignon is the enormous Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes). The UNESCO listed former Papal home is incredible, with a majestic presence and light stone walls that reflect the sun and make it shimmer. Built in the 14th century, seven popes in succession ruled Christendom from here. It takes your breath away today to visit both inside, where you’ll see magnificent frescoes, furnishings and lush décor, and outside where a walk around the soaring walls will impress. Hosting art exhibitions and concerts plus a fabulous son et Lumière show from mid-August until the end of September.
Number 2 on the must-see list has to be the famous Bridge of Avignon, the subject of the well-known song “sous la Pont d’Avignon” about dancing on (or rather under) the bridge. To this day people do dance on the ruins of the ancient bridge though for selfies predominantly! The river crossing came about after, in 1177, a 12-year-old shepherd boy claimed divine voices told him the bridge needed building in Avignon.
The Old Town of Avignon
Avignon has one of the most pleasant old cities for strolling and simply ogling the gorgeous buildings, enjoying cobble stoned streets and for taking a break at a terraced café. Leafy squares, bright streets festooned with bunting and a stream with water wheels are just a few things that make this a beautiful city.
Head to the perched park of the Jardin des Doms next to the Palais des Popes for fabulous views over the countryside and to the Ile de Barthelasse, the largest river island in France. If you want to visit the island, there’s a free shuttle bus from near the Pont d’Avignon, take a picnic and enjoy the countryside air.
If you don’t have much time or it’s too hot to trot, simply hop on the little tourist train from outside the Palais des Papes. It’ll carry you round town taking in all the key sites and makes for a fun tour.
Dining out in Avignon
This is a town that loves its food and there’s masses of choice for restaurants, bars and bistros. The Place de l’Horloge is a grand, vibrant square that’s popular with locals and tourists for its numerous restaurants. Or head off to one of the side roads or smaller squares like Places des Corps-Saints for the restaurants the locals love and visitors often don’t discover.
Did you know pastis was invented in Avignon? The word comes from the Provencal “patisson” meaning mixture. What better place to enjoy the oh-so-French liqueur than in its place of birth!
Don’t miss the chance to visit Les Halles, the local covered market. Chocablock with regional products - from luscious olives to herbes de Provence, cheeses, charcurterie and bread, it’s the perfect place to stock up on gourmet goodies.
French Connections have loads of rentals in Provence – just pop over to our listings pages to see what suits you for your dream holiday in the sunny south of France.