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

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Wondering what to do in Avignon?

Read on for the most important attractions including the Pope’s Palace, ancient waterwheels and the famous bridge of Avignon, and also hidden gems including a cat cafe, local food experience and a local favorite – the Cinema Utopia.

I lived in the city for one month and will give you insider advice on all the interesting things to see and do in Avignon. And I have included a map for your convenience.

I grew to love this ancient and culturally vibrant city!

Quick list of 5 best things to do in Avignon:

Courtyard at teh Pope's Palace in Avignon
People eating at an outdoor cafe with a view of the Pope’s Palace

MAP – Best things to see and do in Avignon 2024

19 Best Things to Do In Avignon

Before we start the list, I want to advise you to spend some time wandering around the streets near the Pope’s Palace. This is one of most interestings things to do in Avignon, especially if you enjoy finding hidden gems.

You cross tiny cobblestone streets flanked by immense buildings and get the feeling you’ve stepped back into another time and place.

I lived in the medieval center for month in November and discovered quite a lot — parts of the city you might overlook.

Now to our list of things to do in Avignon; the famous sights plus hidden gems and some authentic, immersive experiences…

Avignon - cafe in the medieval center
Outdoor seating at restaurant near Palais des Papes, Avignon

1. Visit the Palais des Papes

The outside of this Gothic castle is incredible, but the inside is underwhelming. The rooms are nearly empty and crowded with tourists bumping into each other as they stare at a digital tour on an iPad.

However, with an entry ticket, you do get to go to the top of the palace and walk around a turret for excellent views of the city and the castle roof.

Also you need a ticket to walk on the Avignon bridge!

View from turret of Pope's Palace. One of the things to do in Avignon
View from the turret of the Pope’s Palace

If digital tours are your thing, then go for it at the Pope’s Palace.

Otherwise, I recommend this 🍷 walking tour with wine. It comes with a guide educated on the history of Avignon and a complimentary glass of Côtes du Rhône Wine.

👉 Book the Avignon Walking Tour with Wine here! 🍷

2. See the Pope’s Palace Gardens.

The gardens are behind the palace and offer a serene location for moments of quiet reflection, just as the Pope had intended.

Ticketed separately from the palace, the entrance fee is €5.

After seeing the castle and gardens, you can walk around the medieval center. It’s a good place to window shop or people-watch on Sundays and the neighborhood is filled with a variety of small boutiques.

Living statue (mime) outside the Palais des Papes, Avignon
A “living statue” street performer I saw often near the Palais des Papes

3. Walk on the Famous Avignon Bridge

The Pont d’Avignon originally spanned 900 meters across the river. Supported by 22 arches, it served as a vital connection between the papal state and France.

Over time, erosion led to the collapse of most arches, leaving only four and the Chapel of Saint Nicholas.

Pont d'Avignon. The Avignon Bridge

Immortalized in the French song ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon,’ the bridge is one of the most famous sights in Avignon, and walking on the Avignon Bridge is perhpaps the most icnonic thing to do Avignon

👉 You can add bridge access to your Pope’s Palace ticket for a combined rate of €14,50.

👉 You can also view the bridge for free from Rocher des Doms or île de la Barthelasse.

4. Taste Authentic Provencal Cuisine

People walking and sitting in outdoor cafe on a pedestrian steet in Avignon.
People walking and sitting in oudoor cafes in the center of Avignon on a sunny day.

For a truly authentic experience in Avignon, you can get to know the city and the local cuisine by tasting foods from several local eateries in the medieval district.

Beginning at the Palace of the Popes, the Do Eat Better Experience will show you the delicious staples of Provence cuisine. 

An expert guide will lead you to local food hubs where you’ll get to try menu items like tapenade and oil, Fougasse, and local wine and Calisson, a typical Provençal candy.

👉 Book the Do Eat Better Provencal Cuisine Experience here! 🍷

5. See the Ancient Water Wheels

Avignon waterwheel

I didn’t know about the ancient water wheels in Avignon, and just happened to find them while wandering.

I definitely recommend seeing them, it’s one of the unique things to see in Avignon.

The Rue des Teintures was once a hub for the city’s cloth, weaving, and dyeing industries. The canal once featured 28 water wheels that churned to provide power to the fabric industry.

Now, only four are left and are considered official historical monuments by France.

6. Taste the Wines of the Rhone Valley – Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Avignon is in one of the well known wine regions in France, the Rhone Valley, famous for Châteauneuf-du-Pape varieties.

An excellent things to do that combines wine tasting with a museum, is to take a wine and history tour at Maison Brotte’s Wine Museum in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (near Avignon) The tour will lead you through the footsteps of local wine growers and you will sample five different wine varietals.

👉 Book your wine tour at Maison Brotte – Châteauneuf-du-Pape 🍷

🥇 For a list of more excellent local wine tours, check out my blog post: Seven Outstanding Avignon Wine Tours for 2024

7. Try Fresh and Local Foods – Les Halles Food Market

Fresh oysters at Les Halles, Avignon
My lunch of fresh oysters and fresh bread at Les Halles

I loved this covered market! It is a foodie heaven. I was here several times per week for local cheese, bread, meats, pastries and veggies for meals but also for wonderful meals to go or eat on site.

The produce is as fresh as you can get and it’s a big local hangout.I watched a demonstration of chocolate croissants being made and ate fresh oysters.

👉 Local Tip: In the back you can have one of the restaurants cook the food you just purchased!

  • Location: 📍Place Pie
  • 40 stall and lots of variety. It’s perfect for a quick lunch
  • Hours: 6 am to 2 pm Tuesday through Sunday.

8. Take a Private Chef Cooking Class at Les Halles

Eat lunch like a local by learning how to make authentic French cuisine! This cooking class takes place in the Les Halles Market. 

Guided by a master chef, you create a menu using ingredients sourced directly from the market. And, if you’re not much of a cook, no worries…you can opt for a tasting-only experience.

A glass of wine and coffee are included.

👉 Check times for the Private Chef Cooking Class! 🍷

9. Visit Avignon Museums – Art and History

In a city as old as Avignon, it’s no surprise that museums are at the forefront of Avignon culture.

These five museums are free and of excellent quality.

Free Entry Museums

  • Musée Lapidaire: Showcases ancient Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and Gallic antiquities and sculptures in a former Jesuit temple.
  • 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.
  • Musée Calvet: Exhibits painting and sculpture collections spanning the 15th to the 20th centuries. It also features Egyptian artifacts, bas-reliefs, and mummies.
  • 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.

Musée Louis Vouland

In addition to the free museums above, I also recommend going to the Louis Vouland Museum. It’s a charming hidden gem located inside the former residence of businessman L. Vouland. It houses 18th-century collections, rare works, and Provençal paintings.

Entrance to Musée Louis Vouland is €6.

  • Address: 📍 17 Rue Victor Hugo, Avignon
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays. 

10. Visit Parc Rocher des Doms

Rocher des Doms Park, Avignon Things to Do

I walked to this park often to watch ducks in the seemingly ancient (but fresh) pond and feel the Provence sun.

You also get excellent views of the city and there is a cafe for snacks and drinks.

Parc Rocher des Doms is near Palais des Papes and free to enter. You climb a bit to get to the pond. It is on a total of seven acres and is centered around the romantic pond.

The park is a superb place to view surrounding landmarks like the Pont d’Avignon and Mont Ventoux, Provence’s tallest mountain. 

11. Shop in the downtown

East of the Place de l’Horloge are Avignon’s shopping streets, the perfect place to find French-made souvenirs and grab a bite to eat.

You’ll find charming shops for local sweets, lightweight linen clothing, and stylish accessories here.

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. 

12. Place de l’Horloge 

Carousel at Place de l'horloge, Avignon
Carousel at Place de l’Horloge, Avignon

At the core of Avignon, France, lies the Place de l’Horloge (Clock Tower Square). This bustling square houses Avignon’s 19th-century city hall and opera.

However, despite its name, the famous clock is scarcely visible. 

What is visible are the outdoor restaurants and cafes dotting the square, inviting visitors to dine or enjoy a café creme in the fresh air.

Place de l’Horloge also hosts annual events like the famous Festival d’Avignon.

13. Interactive Cat Café – hidden gem for cat lovers

La Compagnie Des Chats is more than just a place to get your morning café. This hidden gem is a haven for cat lovers.

You can cuddle with a furry friend And have a coffee, tea or lunch in this cozy cafe.

Open since May 2016, the café collaborates with the SPA animal shelter, allowing visitors to connect with and adopt the resident cats.

All proceeds contribute to providing a good home for the cats and facilitating adoptions.

👉 For cat lovers going to Paris – check out my post on the best cat cafes and places to find cats in Paris!

14. Have Tea at the elegant La Mirande hotel – hidden gem

My Airbnb host invited me to have tea at the Hotel Miranda. What a treat!

This is a high tea experience in a lavish, elegant tea room. Although extravagant, the vibe is relaxed.

Both locals and tourists come here. With a tea or coffee and/or pastry you can read, chat or sit and enjoy the elegant atmosphere for as long as you like.

See Miranda the cat outside the Miranda Hotel in Avignon

And you may be wondering why a random photo of a cat is here…because this is Miranda. She lives at….. yes….the Hotel Miranda 🙂

👉 Local Story – Miranda the Cat: I often petted Miranda and one day a “living statue” street performer started telling me her story while tourists were taking photos of her, and me, while I was petting her 🙂

She was a very thin stray hanging around the hotel (a five-star luxury hotel, mind you) and they took her in.

She still lives at the Miranda Hotel and is now quite plump and known for being the “Queen” of the area, inspecting cars and people passing by. Look for her just outside the hotel.🐈

15. Bike or walk around the fortress walls

Avignon walls and bike path

Avignon is famous for its defensive medieval walls, constructed in the 14th century.

Extending over four kilometers around the historic center, the Remparts d’Avignon is a striking sight.

See the famous walls of Avignon

You can bike or drive along the base of the walls or walk along the ramparts from the Pont d’Avignon to enjoy a picturesque view of the river.

16. Visit Cinema Utopia  – local hidden gem

Cinema Utopia
Bar/Cafe next to Cinema Utopia at night

A local told me about Cinema Utopia and the little bar/cafe attached to it. It is a local favorite and kind of tucked behind the Pope’s Palace.

The building is full of atmosphere and statues and cinema posters and there are arthouse movies shown on four screens. Some are in English. At night the courtyard is lit with string lights.

It’s a nice break from doing tourist activities, the interior is beautiful and you get a /feel of local life.

17. Explore Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

One of the oldest places near Avignon is the Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, a town across the Rhône River with roots dating back to the tenth century.

Villes Neuve les Avignon Tour Philippe le Bel
Tour Philippe le Bel, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

While exploring, stop by the Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, a historic Carthusian monastery that now has a cultural center and café. Other notable sights include Fort Saint-André, the old town, and Collegial Notre-Dame Church. 

Inside Philipe le Bel Tower
View from inside Tour Philippe le Bel

You can climb Tour Philippe le Bel for incredible panoramic views. From this vantage point, you’ll see medieval properties that were once cardinal palaces, lining the streets. 

18. Floating wine bar – Vinotage

Set sail on the barge that decided boats are the best place for booze. The Vinotage is a floating wine bar that drifts across the Rhône River overlooking the majestic Palace of the Popes. 

Dating back to 1910, the barge offers over 50 curated wine references. If you find a label you like, you can purchase a bottle to take home from the boutique on board.

👉 Vinotage is handicap-accessible.

Location: 📍 Vinotage

19. Tuesday and Thursday Market Outside Les Halles 

If you’re drawn to bargain hunting, make your way to Les Halles on Tuesday and Thursday.

The weekly brocante is held outside the famous market at Place Pie. Brocante means flea market and this weekly swap meet is a surefire place to find a unique souvenir to bring back home.

Location: 📍 Place Pie – Les Halles

Where to Eat in Avignon

There are many excellent restaurants in Avignon.

Here are three high quality restaurants where you can try traditional Provencal and French cuisine.

📍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.

Where to Stay in Avignon

These hotels have character and charm and are right in the heart of 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.

FAQs about things to see and do in Avignon

Info and tips about visiting Avignon:

Is it worth visiting Avignon?

If you like ancient medieval architecture and streets and/or festivals in summer, it is definitely worth visiting. It is also one of the best bases for exploring Provence and the Rhone region.

What is Avignon best known for?

The Pope’s Palace and the Avignon Bridge.

How do you spend a day in Avignon?

See the Pope’s Palace, walk around the medieval center, visit a museum, eat at the Place de l’Horloge, shop in the center, walk or bike to see the historic walls.

How many days in Avignon is enough?

1-2 days is enough to see the sights in Avignon and maybe take a wine tour. You could stay for 3-4 and use Avignon as a base to further explore the Provence region.

Final Thoughts on things to do in Avignon

Avignon has more to see and do than just the well-known Pope’s Palace and Avignon bridge!

It’s a lovely and historic destination good for lovers of medieval history and buildings, culture, Provencal cuisine (and wine!) and old gothic French atmosphere.

Plus the shopping and markets are high quality and varied, giving you a local experience that is also low-key.

I this list of things to do in Avignon has given your ideas for exploring the medieval city center, tasting the regional cuisine, wine tours and experiencing Avignon’s history and culture.

Bon voyage!

Related Reading:

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

Is Avignon Worth Visiting?

7 Outstanding Avignon Wine Tours