Is Avignon Worth Visiting? Who Should Visit, Why, and Quick Guide

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Why visit Avignon? Being in Avignon is like being in a medieval storybook!

Avignon’s attraction is it’s historic atmosphere, history, culture, food and as a great base to explore Provence. And in summer it is famous for the oldest and best art/theatre festival in France in July, the festival d’Avignon.

I stayed in the medieval center of Avignon for a month in November and grew to love this ancient and cultural city! I walked and biked all over the city, seeing the famous landmarks and discovering local haunts.

Is Avignon Worth Visiting? Visit Avignon if you like:

  • Medieval architecture and history, especially Pope’s Palace and Avignon Bridge
  • Excellent provencal cuisine
  • Having a base to explore Provence
  • Festivals (in summer)
  • The experience being in a ancient city surrounded by a fortress

👉 Avignon is not worth it for people who want nightlife or exciting activities and adventure (except maybe for the festival in summer).

Things to do – Highlights

Avignon Bridge with Popes Palace and Rhone river at sunrise

Quick Guide to Visiting Avignon

Below are nuts and bolts of planning a visit to Avignon, followed by reasons to visit.

Where is Avignon

Avignon is in the heart of the Provence region along the banks of the Rhone River.

The city is about 680 km south of Paris (6 hours driving), 60 km inland from the sea, and about 100 km (1.25 hours drive) from Marseille.

How to get to Avignon

  • Train: The train station is located just outside the city walls and easily accessible. Paris to Avignon takes about 3 hours on the TGV.
  • Fly: There is a small international Airport called “Avignon-Provence” a few kilometers from the city.
  • Bus: The Bus station is near the train station and very well connected to other cities in France and Europe
  • Car: You can easily drive to Avignon from Paris or any other major city.

Best time to visit Avignon

There are 300 days of sunshine in Provence and almost any time of year is good to visit the city itself. Summer can be hot, but it is festival season in Avignon.

For day trips, March-September offers beautiful flowers (the famous lavendar and sunflower fields) and other fields in bloom through the seasons.

Late fall and winter still have much sun, are cool and even cold in January but fewer tourists.

Reasons to Visit Avignon

I loved my time in Avignon and never got bored biking and walking around the city, exploring medieval streets, nooks and crannies and also visiting museums and shops.

Here are my top reasons to visit Avignon for a day or two:

1. It is really medieval! See the Pope’s Palace and medieval center 

View from Pope's Palace, Avignon
View from a turret on the Pope’s Palace

The Palais des Papes, (Pope’s Palace) is a gothic masterpiece and impressive to view.

Absolutely walk around the palace and the surrounding area…it’s like being in a medieval fairytale, and the main reason I think Avignon is worth visiting.

The streets are narrow cobblestone and the ancient stone buildings are tall.

A living stature performer near the Pope's Palace, Avignon
A “living statue” street performer on a narrow street near Palais des Papes
Pailais des Papes, Avignon
One side of the Pope’s Palace

2. Food  – Les Halles Covered Market

Fresh oysters at Les Halles, Avignon
My lunch of fresh oysters from the fish monger at Les Halles

You must go to the Les Halles covered food market! It is a foodie paradise in terms of local, fresh, regional food of all kinds.

With 40 stalls including a restaurant (one where they will cook what you purchase at the market), artisan bread and pastries, fresh produce, regional meats, exquisite cheeses, homemade dishes of all kinds, and fresh seafood.

Les Halles is a great place to have lunch. It is often full of locals talking and eating and greeting each other.

Location: 18 Place Pie. This is an interesting square with an old tower and cafes and shops. Mostly locals here.

3. Museums

Petit Palais Museum, Avignon
Petit Palais Museum in Avignon. Next to Palais des Papes

Avignon is one of the best cities for free, high quality museums.

The Petit Palais museum was my favorite, with famous artists including Botticelli and others. It’s next to the Palais des Papes.

List of free museums in Avignon:

  • Musée Lapidaire: Showcases ancient Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and Gallic antiquities and sculptures in a former Jesuit temple.
    • Address: 27 Rue de la République, Avignon
    • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25
  • Musée du Petit Palais: Features medieval religious art, including Botticelli’s Virgin and Child.
    • Address: Place du Palais, Avignon
    • Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays. 
  • Palais du Roure: Delves into Provençal history and traditions, offering a captivating glimpse into Mediterranean cultural heritage. Located in a 15th-century palace.
    • Address: 3 Rue du College du Roure, Avignon
    • Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays
  • Musée Calvet: Exhibits painting and sculpture collections spanning the 15th to the 20th centuries. It also features Egyptian artifacts, bas-reliefs, and mummies.
    • Address: 27 Rue de la République, Avignon
    • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25
  • Musée Requien: Filled with skeletons and taxidermy, this is Avignon’s museum of natural history. It features exhibits highlighting the rich biodiversity of the region. It’s the smallest of the five free museums, but is still worth stopping by and only takes 15 minutes to walk through.
    • Address: 67 Rue Joseph Vernet, 84000 Avignon
    • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.

4. Shopping

Shopping street in Avignon center
Outdoor restaurant seating in the shopping area of Avignon

East of the Place de l’Horloge are Avignon’s shopping streets. You’ll find charming shops for local sweets, lightweight linen clothing, and stylish accessories.

Also family owned cafes, restaurants and bakeries and eclectic shops for things from hats to elegant tea shops to upscale tarot readings.

Explore CQFD on Rue Des Trois Faucons for French-made and eco-friendly treasures. Les Délices du Luberon on Pl. du change features Provençal delights, and Le Château du Bois on Rue de la Grande Fusterie sells exquisite lavender products.

5. Wine Tours

The Rhone wine region here is famous for Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine (both red and white varieties). The name literally translates to “The Pope’s new castle”.

The small town of the same name is near Avignon where the grapes are grown.

👉 These are excellent five-star rated wine tours from Avignon!

We have a a guide to wine tours and tastings from Avignon if you are interested in more options.

6. Day Trips to Provence and the Camargue

Isle sur la Sorgue - day trip from Avignon
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the “Venice of Provence” is only 30 minutes from Avignon

Avignon is arguably the best base to discover the Provence!

I took the train to Isle sur la Sorgue (the Venice of Provence), Nimes (gorgeous castle grounds and canal), and Carcasson (Roman ampitheatre)

And let’s not forget the famous lavendar and sunflower fields of Provence! 🌻

You can also visit Orange, Pont du Gard (stunning Roman ruins) and the Fontaine de Vaucluse (deep natural spring that feeds the area canals) easily from Avignon.

There are many excellent day tours. Here is a sample:

Day Tours from Avignon – Highlights

💐 Lavender Route Fall Day Tour – Stunning views of endless lavender fields, learn about lavender oil production, follow the Ochre Path, see hidden gems.

🌅 Van Gogh’s Provence & Roman Sites Full Day Tour – See Van Gogh’s home, walk through medieval villages, visit Pont du Guard and more.

🚍 Luberon, Roussillon & Gordes Half-Day Tour – Ochre Cliffs, gorgeous lavender fields, and hilltop villages. Also visit traditional markets, and Provence landmarks such as the Abbey of Senanque.

🦩 Arles and Camargue Half-Day Tour – See the famous ampitheatre at Arles and visit unique Camrgue area: see the white horses, flamingoes, and bulls, beaches and villages.

7. Avignon Bridge and The Walls

Avignon is famous for both the Avignon bridge and the fortress walls that surround the city center. Truly impressive.

I felt like I was transported back to medieval times living within those walls and walking the narrow streets with ancient buildings.

Avignon Bridge
Avignon Bridge

The Bridge: To actually walk on the bridge, you buy an entry ticket to the Palais des Papes and add the Avignon bridge.

You can walk or bike or even drive near the bridge to get a close up view (I got the photo above on a bike ride).

Or see it from the top of the palace or from the top of Rocher des Domes.

👉 Culture TIP: French children know and sing the famous folk song, “Under the bridge of Avignon is where we dance..” (Sur the pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse, l’on y danse).

Fortress Wall, Avignon
Fortress Wall, Avignon

The Fortress Walls: I was really impressed by these walls and biked almost all the way around them. I often explored outside the walls, and when I returned home through them, I felt a sense of protection when I got back inside the walls!

You can walk through and under arches at certain points.

Where to Stay in Avignon

📍Budget Option: Hôtel le Colbert Quaint, small and cozy on a quiet street right in the historic center.

📍Mid-Range Option: Hôtel Garlande Boutique hotel in an 18th century building in the heart of Avignon.

📍Luxury Option: Hôtel La Mirande Five star luxury, elegant hotel located behind Pope’s Palace. This is the iconic hotel of Avignon. Michelin-starred restaurant.

Restaurants and Dining in Avignon

Avignon is a good place for foodies.

Regional and local foods are a focus and you fine family owned cafes and high end restaurants where chefs focus on the traditional Provencal cuisine, often with innovation.

Here are three choices for every budget that offer traditional Provencal choices.

📍High End: Le Restaurant – La Mirande In the iconic La Mirande hotel where Chef Florent Pietravalle uses local produce to create modern cuisine honoring Provencal traditions. Award winning for ethical and sustainable practices.

📍 Moderate Price: Acte 2 Classic French cuisine with a modern twist. Known for excellent service and loved for charming atmosphere in a 17th -century building. Michelen recommended.

📍Budget Meals: L’Épicerie de Ginette A sandwich shop on the Northern end of Rue Saint-Michel with excellent food at a moderate price. It’s a cozy café with a funky retro-style vibe reminiscent of the 1940s.

FAQs – Tips on Visiting Avignon

Read below for more tips and info for a visit to Avignon.

How many days do you need in Avignon?

One day to visit the city itself, two days to add a wine tour or day trip. Three to five days to use Avignon as a base to explore the region.

Which is nicer Avignon or Aix-en-Provence?

It depends on what you like. Avignon has a very old and medieval feel while Aix-en-Provence is more open and has a large university and thus more nightlife and activities.

What is special about Avignon?

The Pope’s Palace, the Avignon Bridge, the fortress walls and the festival d’Avignon in July.

Final Thoughts: Is Avignon Worth Visiting?

Avignon is worth it for almost every traveler who likes architecture, history, culture and exceptional local food and wine. There are many things to do in Avignon and it is worth visiting for a day or two.

And it is arguably the best base for day trips to discover Provence.

I hope this guide has helped you decide whether to visit and given ideas for local and authentic things to see and do in wonderful Avignon!


Related about travel to Avignon:

7 Outstanding Avignon Wine Tours for 2024: Insider’s Guide

18 Best Day Trips from Avignon, France – Insider’s Guide 2024

19 Best Things to do in Avignon, France – By an Expert