Established as the Christian capital during the early 14th century, Avignon is home to astonishingly well-kept ramparts and historical architecture. These buildings act as a reminder of its brief history between 1309 and 1377 where seven successive popes resided in the area before the papal court was moved back to the original Rome. During the French Revolution the town officially became a part of France, and is now the capital of the Vaucluse department being one of very few French cities to have preserved the majority of its ramparts. The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papes, the cathedral, and the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism.
It is worth braving the summer heat for the city’s internationally renowned summer arts festival held during the months of July and August. In terms of sightseeing the recommendation for best time to visit would be spring. Situated on the Rhône river, Avignon is about 580km south-east of the capital Paris. It is covered greatly by parks and gardens which are perfect to take a stroll in to take some shade from the Mediterranean climate.
All the stunning beauty of the Provence region is on your doorstep in Avignon. Drive up and enjoy the villages perched high up in the Lubéron and Alpilles mountain ranges or through the wild natural region of the Camargue, located south of Arles between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River. Roman towns, lavender fields as far as the eye can see on the plateaux of Vaucluse, jagged peaks in the mountain chain of the dentelles de Montmirail and foothills of Provence’s highest peak, the Mont Ventoux are to be found in this region and not to be missed when renting a car in this region. Enter the realm of seduction and charm that this animated Provençal city offers!
Things to do in Avignon:
- Pope’s Palace (Palais des Papes)
- Rocher des Doms
- Wine Tours and Tastings
- Avignon Les Halles
- Eglise Saint Pierre
- Street of Dyers (Rue de Teinturiers)
- Cathedrale Notre-Dame des Doms
Driving in Avignon:
- Driving around inside the old town walls can be a challenge, there are a number of car parks around Avignon however the best parking lot is located under the Palais des Papes which is very central and secure.
- During July/August festival time many roads are closed, made one way or temporarily blocked. It is best to park up and take a shuttle bus into the city during these times.
- Many of the most scenic and naturally beautiful spots in Provence aren’t accessible by public transport meaning a rental car is your best option in exploring.