Your Complete Guide To Avignon: The Second Domain Of Popes

Nicknamed “The City of Popes”, Avignon is immersed in French history. It is a city with two faces; on the one hand, seducing travelers by way of Gothic architecture and deep roots in Christianity.

Perfect for a weekend getaway, Avignon is a southern French city situated just north of Montpellier and built on the bank of the Rhône River. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its historic center comprises of numerous reminders of the past, including: Le Palais des Papes and the Avignon Bridge. Stroll along the city walls, the bridge, and attend the famous theater festival to discover everything this provincial town has to offer.

HOW TO GET THERE

Located in the southern part of France, Avignon can be reached from Paris in two ways: the train or the car. From Paris Gare de Lyon, it is approximately a 3-hour train ride and costs between 90 and 150 euros. By car, traverse the entirety of France passing through famous French cities, such as: Lyon, Dijon, and Valence. It is about a 7-hour trip but we recommend making frequent stops and even spending the night in a few different towns before reaching Avignon.

Hot tip! You can also group together Avignon and Aix-en-Provence in your itinerary as the two cities are only an hour apart by car. If you plan on visiting lavender fields, then it’s also best to rent a car. 

SEE / DO

Le Palais des Papes

Pl. du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France

This historical fortress is one of most visited monuments in the country and is one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in France. Originally, the site served both as a fortress and a residence for Popes as nine of them lived in the fortress during the 14th century, and each one left their mark. This landmark serves as a symbol of the Catholic Church’s influence and the power that popes held during that pious period of time. Opened to the public in 1906, 25 rooms can be visited, including: the banquet room, stateroom, Europe’s largest library, and the pope’s personal apartments overlooking the Avignon Bridge. The tour is enhanced by multimedia options and a museum. Bearing witness to Italian and French Art, the pope’s apartments are adorned with priceless paintings. 15,000 square feet large, The Palace of Popes is the largest Medieval Gothic fort in the world.

The Palace of Popes Avignon
The Palace of Popes. Photo by Lottie Griffiths on Unsplash

Pont d’Avignon, or The Avignon Bridge

Bd de la Ligne, 84000 Avignon, France

Known for its world-famous song and attracting more than 30,000 visitors each year, the Avignon Bridge is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Out of the 22 original arches, only 4 remain, but why? Between the numerous wars and water damage, the bridge was wrecked a number of times. During the Middle Ages, the Pont d’Avignon served as an important route between Italy and Spain and later on as an essential connection between the Palace of Popes and the cardinals’ residences. Formerly known as The Saint Berezet Bridge, this emblem was named after its architect and is one of the oldest bridges on the Rhone River. This cultural site’s construction was expensive and required 14 years to complete but it was a necessity as it remained as the only fixed river crossing.

The Avignon Bridge Avignon
The Avignon Bridge. Photo by Roelf Bruinsma on Unsplash

Le Musée de la Lavande

276 Rte de Gordes, 84220 Cabrières-d'Avignon, France

Musée de la Lavande
FACEBOOK Musée de la Lavande

The region of Luberon is known for its iconic and lush lavender fields. The closest location to capture that perfect photo is at Lavender Museum, situated less than an hour east of central Avignon. Musée de la Lavande provides the technical, agricultural and historical information about the lavender. The establishment takes travelers from the planting, harvesting, to the distillery process of refining this signature minted plant. The best months to visit start from mid-June to mid-August, bearing in mind of climate and temperature changes.

EAT

La Mirande

4 Pl. de l'Amirande, 84000 Avignon, France

Located near the Palace of Popes, La Mirande is a Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant recognized for its chef’s high-quality cuisine. Chef Florent Pietravalle transports each guest on a magical culinary journey through his sequential menus, revolving around Provincial flavors. Balanced and light, each dish is inspired by the chef’s seasonal ingredients and daily creativity. Visitors come from all over to taste Chef Pietravalle’s famous beef marrow with burnt onion and anchovy or eggplant tacos with wild rice. Set in a former cardinal’s residence, the restaurant’s interior is endowed with relics of the period and a highly detailed Renaissance ceiling. On a warm day, enjoy your dish on La Mirande’s outdoor terrace which constitutes a true safe haven. Overlooking the Palace of Popes and decorated with garlands of light, the terrace’s pastoral scenery is a true dream.

La Mirande's terrace Avignon
La Mirande’s terrace. FACEBOOK La Mirande *****

La Cantine du Nid

7 Rue Des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon, France

Aptly named, La Cantine du Nid or the Nest Canteen in English, is nestled away in the historic heart of Avignon. Opened in 2018, this concept store encompasses a restaurant, a clothing store, and even a yoga studio. The chef’s dishes are light and created with seasonal produce cultivated in local farms. The organic and vegan-friendly menu includes dishes such as: a veggie burger with red bean steak, seaweed tartare, and chocolate-hazelnut-sesame tart. Accompany your dish with an artisanal beer, locally brewed. Zen, new, and popular; better make a reservation in hopes of getting a table!

La Cantine du Nid Avignon
La Cantine du Nid. FACEBOOK Lacantinedunid

STAY

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