Shopping in Avignon
Avignon is an ideal town for buying presents. Most Provençal specialities are on sale here, with all the vivid colours and flavours of the South. The city’s shopping streets are crowded with locals and visitors, and there’s a surprising range of contrasting stores in a small area. Designer fashions and pricey jewellers are right alongside everyday butchers and bakers, gourmet chocolatiers and tourist-oriented souvenir shops.
Running through the centre of the walled Old Town, Avignon’s main street is rue de la République, with branches of French chain stores, as well as interesting boutiques and tempting food shops. Look down the side streets – chic boutiques line rue Joseph-Vernet, west of République, while Rue St Agricol is lined with fashions and accessories, including designer outlet Donna at number 35. The pedestrianised area at the heart of the old city allows for a leisurely, traffic-free shopping experience.
A market with 40 stalls selling local and regional food and wine is open Monday to Saturday at the main market, Les Halles d'Avignon in place Pie. In addition to the covered market at Les Halles, south of place Pie, there are colourful outdoor markets at the Rempart St Michel (a food market on Saturday and Sunday) and place des Carmes (a flower market on Saturday and flea market on Sunday).
Rue de la République is where you’ll find Monoprix department store, with a big choice of men’s and women’s fashions, the audio and books department store FNAC, and a large branch of H&M. North-east of the city centre are the large modern shopping malls of Auchan (at Le Pontet) and Buld’air (at Vedène).
Department stores are open Monday to Saturday 0900-1900, while smaller shops close 1200-1400 and Monday morning. Almost all shops are closed Sunday, except boulangeries and pâtisseries which often open on Sunday mornings.
Local specialities include olive oil, lavender, brightly printed fabrics, sugared fruits, chocolate and fig or melon jam. Take home a taste of Avignon with some Papalines d'Avignon liqueur chocolates, or famous wines of the region such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A good selection of regional wines can be found at La Cave du Bouffart, 14 rue des Fourbisseurs. Lovers of the mustard yellow and olive green of Provençal pottery will be spoilt for choice at Terre et Art, 29 rue des Fourbisseurs, or Terre et Provence, 26 rue de la République. For a souvenir in silver or gold, shoppers should head for Vincent Joaillier, 12 place du Change, a jewellery design shop founded in 1897.
TVA (or VAT) varies between 5.5% (on books and essential foods) to 19.6% (standard rate for most goods). An increase to 21.2% is expected. Visitors from outside the European Union can claim a tax refund upon departure for each occasion over 175 euros has been spent in any shop on the same day. Ask the retailer for the refund form, called the "bordereau de détaxe” before leaving the store. Keep all recipts and at the airport on departure look for the Détaxe sign to claim the refund.