The Camargue Natural Park area near Arles is a short 20-minute train ride from Avignon. Here you can see thousands of flamingos and wild white horses, among hundreds of other species while exploring this vast saltwater plane between the Rhone River and the Mediterranean.
Venture a little east of Avignon to experience the beauty of the Luberon natural area. Filled with rolling hills, canyons and ochre cliffs, the Luberon is one of Provence's most heavily touristed areas and for good reason. Covered in vineyards and dotted with hill towns, visitors flock here for an authentic French countryside experience.
The famed Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, is a short 20-minute drive outside of Avignon and is a must-see. Here you can explore the aqueduct from all angles and marvel at the ancient craftsmanship while walking across the bridge itself. A museum is also on site and is included in the admission.
Pont Saint-Bénézet, the famous Pont d'Avignon was initially built in the late 11th century and then re-built multiple times due to war and floods and ultimately abandoned in the 17th century. Of the 22 arches that spanned the Rhône between Avignon and Villeneuve-lès-Avignon only four remaining arches and a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicolas remain. The bridge together with the papal palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.
Best Day Trip
Countless Provençal hill towns are a short drive away, and several can easily be visited in one day. Your best bet for a day trip is to get a rental car and head east to visit the famous villages of Roussillon, Gordes and Les Baux. Make sure to bring good walking shoes, as cobblestones are a requirement in these hilltop wonders.
Most Iconic Place
The Palace of the Popes is the largest gothic palace in the world. It was here that the pope (seven of them to be precise) resided from the years 1309 to 1377. Avignon remained under papal rule until the French Revolution, when it joined France. You can explore this massive palace inside and out during your visit to Avignon.
Directly across the river lies Villeneuve-Lès-Avignon, which was once connected to Avignon by the Pont Saint-Bénézet. Once a small market town, the St. Andre Abbey was built on top of the hill by monks in the year 1000, which was then turned into a fortress by a king who wanted to control access to the Rhone. Filled to the brim with historic buildings and gardens, this village is not one to be missed.
Neighborhood to Explore
If you are visiting in the summer, head to Rue des Teinturiers, which is lined by a canal and shaded by old sycamore trees. Once home to all of the town's textile mills, the canal is filled with water wheels, and the street lined with cafes. Rue des Teinturiers is the ideal street to cool off during summer's blistering heat, and also catch up on the history of the town's common folk.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Take a seat on a bench in Place Pie where you can take in locals and tourists alike perusing the restaurant offerings and visiting the Les Halles indoor market. Here you can admire the hustle and bustle of the outdoor seating at the many bistros in the plaza as well as the peace of the living garden wall on the front of the market building.
Best Place to Rest Your Feet
The papal garden, Rocher des Doms is the perfect spot to sit on a bench and relax. Bask in the sun, watch the ducks and listen to the birds chirping as you take in the views of Avignon, the Rhone River and nearby Mont Ventoux of Tour de France fame. The atmosphere is peaceful and the vistas are plentiful in this garden.