Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France on the left bank of the Rhône river that is part of the Provence region.
Good to know:
Avignon’s historic city center became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
The annual Festival d’Avignon is one of the biggest arts festivals in the world.
Seven successive popes resided in Avignon from 1309 to 1377.
Population (metro area): 90.000
Currency: Euro (€)
Can you smell the lavender? Feel the mistral wind (trust us, if it’s there, you feel it) on your face? We’re in the Provence, that beautiful French region that spans from the mountains to the sea and encompasses so many clichés of what the ‘real France’ looks like.
Avignon might not be the most obvious of travel destinations, but it is a worthy one. The city isn’t big – only 90.000 people live in it – but it is rich in history and culture. Roughly 12.000 of its inhabitants live within the still fully intact medieval ramparts. And it is within these walls that we will spend the next 12hrs, discovering the best of the old and the new. Everything is within walking distance, so we’ll take it easy on the street-by-street navigation this time. Just find your way through the winding streets. And if you ever get lost, just look for the Papal Palace that is visible from most points of the city.
Seven different popes resided in this giant fortress, making Avignon the center of the catholic world (and with that, almost all of Europe) for a brief moment in time. Now the clocks are ticking slower again, making this a great destination to unwind. Much of the charme of the city comes from its compact size. Its people might come off a bit rough at first, but once you crack the surface, they couldn’t be warmer or more welcoming. The opening hours of the shops and restaurants also give off the size of the place: watch out for slow Mondays and extensive lunch breaks!
Once a year, Avignon actually takes back some of its glory. During the annual Festival d’Avignon in July, the art and theater world flocks to the city for one of the world’s largest art festivals. If you visit then, you’ll get hustle and bustle.
Then, there’s the famous Pont d’Avignon, the bridge that many of us know from a nursery rhyme. There’s not much dancing on it nowadays, but it’s still worth to have a look.
A wonderful way to arrive here is by train. Come May 1st, Eurostar has a new direct service to Avignon, taking you from the city center of London right to the heart of Avignon in just under six hours. The Provence route takes you past some of France’s most breathtaking scenery and puts you in the mood for wine, sunshine, and some serious shopping. Tickets start at just 99£ (approximately 145 USD/135 Euro) return, so pack your bags and let’s go.
Let’s spend 12hrs in Avignon!