Not many cities in the world can win the heart of any tourist, regardless of their interests and preferences. French Avignon is undoubtedly one of these cities. With historical sites that are on UNESCO's World Heritage List, picturesque nature, a theatrical festival, a jazz music festival, the best wineries, and stunning local cuisine — it seems that Avignon has everything for an unforgettable holiday. Let's add the magical atmosphere of Provence and the hospitality of the city's residents. Sounds very tempting, doesn't it?
Districts of Avignon
In Avignon, the Banastere district, east of the Papal Palace, deserves special attention. The beautiful architecture of the neighborhood, dating back to the XXVll-XXVlllth centuries, is a highlight. After a walk around the quarter, the tourists should head toward the Piazza Carmelites, where the visitors will find a string of narrow streets on which almost no cars drive. It is ideal for a quiet walk and dinner in one of the cozy restaurants.
If you want to taste French cuisine while walking around Avignon, look for places around the Place de la Clock, Rue de la République and Place du Change or Place des Corps Saintes. If you want a good meal and save money, go to Rue Teinturiers or look for a café between Place des Palais and Place du Quillon.
It is worth noting that there are also many decent hotels outside the historic center of Avignon. Moreover, living on the outskirts will allow you to spend less money on the hotel and food. In this case, transport links in the city are well-established, so you can easily get to the major attractions and entertainment.
You will have to walk a lot to see all the most famous and beautiful sights of Avignon. In this city, tourists are waiting for stunningly beautiful architecture, and almost every house in the historic center is worthy of attention. Churches and temples, museums and theaters, squares and buildings, bridges, fortifications, observation decks - you cannot visit Avignon for one day because the city has so many iconic places.
History of Avignon
In 120 B.C., Rome conquered the area. The city became part of Narbonne Gaul. It grew and developed, often mentioned in historical documents, but after the decline of the Roman Empire, Avignon was in a period of regular wars and devastation. Goths, Franks, Burgundians, and even Arabs - the change of rulers lasted until 1003, when Avignon became part of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1290, the Counts of Provence ruled here, and in the XII-XIII centuries, the city enjoyed communal self-government.
In 1303, one of Europe's first universities was founded in Avignon, and in 1309 the city's history began the period of the "captivity of the popes in Avignon," which lasted until 1378. The famous Papal Palace and several churches were built during the popes' stay in Avignon.
As a result of the French Revolution of 1791, Avignon became part of France. During this period, deposits of sand of excellent quality were found in the area of the city, and its active export and the general growth of prosperity began. In the XIX century, however, Avignon became a provincial town, gradually losing its importance on the world stage. The situation changed somewhat after the construction of the railroad. The city developed agriculture, significantly changed its appearance, and noticeably expanded. In the XX century, immigrants came here en masse, and the population grew. In 2001, a high-speed railroad station was built in Avignon, which contributed to the development of both tourism and the city as a whole.
The best time to visit Avignon
Travelers who dream of seeing Avignon during the holidays should definitely come here in July. At the height of summer, the city hosts an annual theater festival that transforms the streets into mini-scenes. Disguised actors, performances in the squares, music, and unbridled merriment - this show in Avignon is impossible to miss!
If you come to Avignon by car or rent a car in the city, you should carefully study the rules for parking outside the guarded parking lots. All parking lots in Avignon are divided into zones: blue - paid during working hours (from 9 to 12 and from 14 to 19), at other times to pay nothing; orange - parking time, not more than 2 hours, after which the car must be removed (cost 1.5 euro per hour), green - parking time to 8 hours (cost 0.6 euro per hour). Fines for illegal parking can reach 135 euros, so it is better not to break the rules.
The weather in Avignon is very changeable, so do not leave your umbrella and light windbreaker out of your bag. In addition, in this part of France are common cold and literally piercing to-the-bone winds. Many tourists are lucky, and the mistral bypasses them. But if you still have to face this peculiarity of Avignon, warm clothes certainly do not hurt.
When visiting the Papal Museum, tourists can ask the guide for an Avignon Pass. This special tourist pass gives the right to buy tickets to other museums in the city at a good discount. It is valid for 15 days from the date of issue. You can also get this discount at the tourist office.
Things to do in Avignon
A trip to Avignon means long walks around the city, historic sites, excursions, gastronomic delights, and many other activities that make up the perfect trip. For a memorable trip, all you need to do is follow the plan below:
- Visit the Papal Palace, the most famous and significant landmark, the hallmark of Avignon, which begins any sightseeing tour of the city. Before you visit it, you should at least learn a little about the palace's history or use a guide's services. It is striking in its scope and grandeur. Just look at the wonderful frescoes, which can be viewed endlessly.
- Take a walk on the bridge of St. Benezet. It is another popular tourist spot that is impossible to ignore. A beautiful legend is associated with it, which visitors are sure to be told by a guide. Here you have beautiful views of the city, and its main feature is that it breaks off in the middle of the Rhône River. It looks very unusual and even a little mysterious.
- Enjoy the beauty of the park Dome du Rocher. One of the coziest and quietest places in the city is near the Papal Palace. Shady alleys, a beautiful pond with swans and ducks, small grottos with fountains, secret romantic spots, and a huge range of activities for children - not only tourists but also locals love to relax in the park. Another advantage of the park Dome du Rocher is the availability of viewing platforms from which you can admire not only the main sights of Avignon but also picturesque views on the other side of the Rhone.
- Evaluate the exposition of the best museums in the city. Most exhibit art in all forms, from classical painting to modern art. It is noteworthy that many collections can be seen for free. Travelers with children should pay attention to the museum Epicurium, where you can learn more about how everything grows in the wild and even make your own dish.
- Take a tour by tourist train. A special tourist train leaves regularly from the Papal Palace, which allows you to admire the city without wasting time and energy walking. One of the advantages of this trip is that the train stops at points that offer incredible views of Avignon. Moreover, during the tour, you can select the most interesting places in the city to return to them later on foot.
- Buy a ticket to the Opera Grand Avignon. Modern and classical theatrical productions, concerts, choreographic performances, exhibitions, and various events for children and young people - Opera Grand Avignon knows how to please and surprise its guests. You may even see a performance with Alain Delon if you are lucky.
- Take a boat ride or a cruise on the river, during which travelers have stunning views of Avignon. The city looks completely different from the water, and from here, you can take the most beautiful photos, not to mention the pleasant emotions of such a walk.
- Attend a master class in winemaking. To visit Avignon and not taste the local wine is simply unacceptable. Moreover, in this city, you will not be able to limit yourself to a tasting because Provence is famous for producing the most delicious and popular wines. Every traveler has the opportunity to take part in a master class and learn the secrets of the best winemakers of Avignon and the surrounding area.
- Go to the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon. The so-called "little brother" of Avignon is on the other side of the Rhône River. You can get here by bus; the road takes no more than 10 minutes. Wandering through the streets of Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, climbing to the observation deck, and seeing Avignon from the side is a very pleasant and relaxing walk.