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Avignon Travel Guide

About Avignon

A brief stint as the seat of Papal power in the Middle Ages gave Avignon an architectural majesty that still endures today.

Encircled by 800-year-old stone ramparts that rise grandly from the bank of the wide river Rhône, the UNESCO-listed centre boasts one of the most iconic skylines in France. At its heart is the Palais de Papes - a vast turreted fortress that overlooks a magical mixture of mansion-lined streets and medieval squares.

The 12th-century Pont Saint-Bénézet (the arched bridge of nursery rhyme fame) only retains four of its original 22 arches, but history buffs will still find plenty to tickle their fancy in Avignon. From the old papal mint and three spectacular Gothic churches, to the artworks of the Musee du Petit and Collection Lambert, the city is a cultural treasure box of epic proportions.

The prestigious annual Avignon Festival in July brings the cobbled streets around the Palais de Papes to life. Even out of season, the vast square in front of the fortress is the scene for all sorts of entertainment, including buskers and shows. Take a stroll through the nearby Rochers des Doms gardens to enjoy wonderful, airy views far across the Rhône and the sunlit Provence countryside.

Cosy pavement cafés and fantastic restaurants make Avignon the perfect place for a romantic weekend away. It has a range of hotels from great little budget places to grand luxury establishments, some of which are in converted mansions and convents. It’s also a fabulous shopping city, with elegant jewellers and chic fashion stores standing shoulder to shoulder with quirkier boutiques.

You’ll find Provencal specialities like fragrant flowery perfumes, prestigious local Côtes du Rhône wines, and edible treats such as fougasse bread, Papalines d'Avignon liqueur chocolates and nougat in the markets of the medieval quarter. Foodies will also find a generous smattering of traditional Provencal eateries and a few prestigious Michelin star establishments.

Capital of the Vaucluse region in the heart of Provence, Avignon makes an ideal base for out-of-town excursions. Some of the prettiest corners of southern France are within a couple of hours of the city.

Key facts

Population:
90800
Latitude:
43.952537
Longitude:
4.811206

Featured Hotels

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La Mirande

Opposite the Palais des Papes, this former cardinal's palace from the 14th-century is all sophistication and attention to detail. The rooms are delightful, and the hotel's restaurant is one of the best in town. The sumptuous décor has been chosen with flair and imagination. Expensive, but this is luxury with charm and personality.

Hotel de l'Horloge

Well placed on the main square, this handsome old 4-star hotel is in the midst of all the life of the town. Noise is not usually a problem, but if you're concerned, ask for one of the quieter rooms at the side. Rooms are small but comfortable and attractively decorated.

Novotel Avignon Centre

Well positioned just outside the gateway into the walled city, the Novotel has easy road and rail access, an underground car park, a decent restaurant, swimming pool and spa, as well as bright, spacious, comfortable bedrooms. And it is only 10 minutes' walk to all the attractions of the city.

Hotel de Blauvac

This small, inexpensive hotel is just off the place de l'Horloge in a sensitively converted 17th-century mansion. It feels redolent with history, especially in the rooms with mezzanines and walls of massive exposed stone blocks. A warm welcome and 16 very basic but comfortable rooms make this a fine, well-placed budget choice.

Hotel Splendid

The Splendid offers six simple, well-kept, brightly decorated little rooms. It occupies an ordinary terraced house in a quiet residential street within the city walls, opposite the garden of an old cloister. It's well placed for anyone arriving by train, as it's just a few minutes' walk up the street from the station.

Hotel Colbert

The Colbert's arty style, with bright decor, pictures on the walls and unusual breakfast plates, are all the product of the creative and generous spirit of hosts Patrice and Annie. Rooms are tiny but adequately equipped. Access is very convenient, and all the sights and city centre are just minutes away.