Avignon has an impressive historic centre protected by UNESCO, there are essentially five sites: the Papal Palace, Notre-Dame-des-Doms Cathedral, the Pont d’Avignon, the Petit Palais and the ramparts. These, then, are the essential visits to make in the city, although it is well worth spending some time wandering around its cobbled streets, enjoying its lively squares or strolling in search of the best panoramic views.
WHAT TO SEE
- The Palace of the Popes (Palais des Papes) was the residence of the seven Catholic popes during the Avignon Papacy and, immediately afterwards, of two “anti-popes”. The huge palace we can see today (one of the largest Gothic buildings in the world) is actually made up of two palaces: the Palais Vieux, built by order of Pope Benedict XII on the remains of the old episcopal palace around 1334, and the Palais Neuf, an expansion by Clement VI and his successors.
Book online your tickets (14,50€) for the Palace of the Popes or the combined ticket for the Palace of the Popes + Avignon Bridge (don’t pay for the gardens it didn’t worth it).
- Annexed to the Papal Palace on the north side is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms, totally overshadowed by the imposing façade of the palace.
- The ramparts of Avignon, with a total length of more than 4km, were also built during the Avignon Papacy (from 1355) and are included in the protected historic centre. In total you can see 16 gates and almost 40 towers, most of them restored during the last century.
If you have time to explore Avignon at your leisure, don’t miss the opportunity to stroll through the streets of its historic centre and visit the lively Place de l’Horloge, in the heart of the city. Among the most representative buildings on the square are the Town Hall and the Opera House, dating from the 19th century. And if you want an elevated view of the city and the bridge, you can climb up to the Rocher des Doms park. The Les Halles market is also very popular, although rather touristy, as is the beautiful Gothic church of Saint Pierre.
Pass through Rue des Teinturiers is very romantic with the river and the windmill, Place Crillon is also a good place to spend your night or take a coffee, and don’t forget the Musee Calvet Is so beautiful and FREE.
Park in the city center (inside the walls) is pretty expensive, le parking Les Halles is the most centric and cost 12€ all night. So in case, you don’t want to pay for parking I suggest you park at Les Italiens outside the wall, and with a free bus which every 8min leaves you at Les Halles square. Check here all the parking of Avignon!
And if you want ideas for getaways from Avignon, here are a few. Firstly, don’t miss beautiful Nîmes (45km away), with an impressive Roman heritage site. And, still, on the Roman theme, we recommend three other sites: the famous Pont du Gard (26 km), the Roman theatre in Orange (31 km), and the amphitheater in Arles (45 km), all of which are World Heritage Sites. Finally, you might also be interested in the archaeological site of Glanum, of Celtic origin, and the children’s amusement park Parc Spirou.