Everything to Know About Avignon
This small, yet energetic city with abundant sunshine is the gateway to Provence.
Right away you'll feel the prosperity of this papal city, starting with the slick marble tile streets that guide you through Avignon. Delight in the sun shining on your face as you stroll along the winding streets to find medieval stone buildings and vibrant green parks while church bells provide the soundtrack for your sightseeing. Though Avignon is full of history and antiquity, it has a surprisingly youthful and energetic feel to the city due to Avignon University in town.
When to Go
Summer is peak season in which you will experience high temperatures, their famous theater festival, and the vibrant lavender fields as you venture outside of the city. Winter is the low season with relatively mild temperatures and the occasional Mistral wind blasting through each alleyway. Anytime is a good time to visit Avignon, however, if you plan on visiting the rest of Provence it would be better to avoid winter when many of the smaller villages are shuttered.
The main event of the year is the Avignon Theatre Festival in July, where you can experience hundreds of music, dance and theater performances throughout the city. As one of the oldest and most famous arts and culture festivals in the world, this three-week event is not to be missed.
What to Eat
You can't go wrong with Provençal cuisine. Cotes du Rhone wine, olive oil and locally grown fresh produce prevail here, and dishes are entirely seasonal. Be sure to check out the Les Halles indoor market where you can sample all the region has to offer. Don't leave without trying the iconic sweet dish, Les Papalines d'Avignon, which consists of chocolate and oregano liqueur.
Souvenir to Take Home
Local products will always reign supreme in Provence. The best souvenir to take home is anything lavender-related, such as the flowers themselves, essential oil, soaps or lotions. Olives also play a huge role in the area so you can't go wrong with a bottle of pure, cold-pressed olive oil.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Although there are no direct flights to Avignon, it is a comfortable 2.5-hour train ride from Paris on the TGV. The central train station is directly across the street from the city wall, making accessibility a breeze. Avignon is a very walkable city, so forget the car or taxi and take your time strolling through the maze of medieval streets.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
The papal garden (Rocher des Doms) has an excellent viewpoint on its northern edge overlooking the river Rhône with the famous Pont Saint-Bénézet in the background. From there you can follow the pathway down the city walls and through the ramparts onto the bridge (with admission) for even more spectacular photo opportunities. Dawn or dusk on clear, sunny days will provide a beautiful backdrop and limited crowds.