Today we talk about Avignon, a small town located in south-eastern France. This cute little town will throw you back in history with every step you take. Here’s why you need to visit Avignon as soon as possible.
I have lived in France for about 4 years, and it’s not until our recent weekend to Avignon that I’ve discovered the importance of this beautiful town. If you didn’t grow up in France or in Italy, chances are you might not know the history of Avignon.
Known for being the headquarters of the Popes during the so called “Babylonian captivity” of the Popes, Avignon is a UNESCO town. Its unique architecture from the Papal State period is diving us into the Middle Ages.
So why you should visit Avignon?
Middle Ages palace and buildings
- Palace of the Popes (fr. Palais des Papes) is a UNESCO palace from XIV century where you can discover old objects and paintings. Furthermore, you can also find videos that explain the restoration process and the science behind it.
- Saint Bénezet Bridge (fr. Pont Saint-Bénezet) represents the ruins of a bridge that was built across Rhône river in XIII century. This bridge made the connection between the French Kingdom and the Papal State and served for commerce between these two. From its original 22 arches, only 4 remain today. During its history, Saint Bénezet Bridge suffered the rage of the river, being destroyed and reconstructed. As consequence, people finally abandoned its renovation in XVII century.
Oodles of museums
- Museum of Little Palace: a medieval art museum that was founded in 1976. Installed in the old Archbishops’ Palace. This museum presents Italian and French medieval paintings, as well as Provence sculptures.
- Calvet Museum: presenting mainly French artwork from XV to XX century. You can find this museum in a magnificent hotel from XVIII century.
- Lapidary Museum, not to be confused with “concise”, nope! This Museum houses an impressive archaeological collection, constituted by Greek, Roman and Gallo-Roman sculptures, vases and other architectural decoration elements.
- Roure Palace is not only a history and local culture museum, but also a library and archives and Mediterranean documentation center. You can find it in a Renaissance hotel from XV century.
- Requien Museum, or better known as the Natural History Museum of Avignon. This museum has beautiful collections of minerals and rocks, fossils, butterflies and insects, and all sorts of animals. And it’s FREE!!!
There are many other museums, like Municipal Archives of Avignon Mont-de-Piété, Angladon Museum.
Everyone can find themselves a museum in Avignon. All you need is time. The museums price range from 2€ to 10€, and if you plan on visiting more than one, you will have up to 3.50€ discount.
Different walking tours
The most important document you need for a walking tour is the brochure and the map. You can find them in the Tourist Office of Avignon for free.
You can do the walking tour with a guide or alone. As we went to visit Avignon in the low season, this wasn’t an option. Anyway, for the liberty, we prefer to visit on ourselves, especially when we have this much information available on the brochure.
The Tourist Office proposes 3 circuits:
- Promenade of the Popes is an approximately 1 hour circuit where you discover the domain around the Palace of the Popes.
- Old Museum and Hotel Buildings is a 2 hours circuit (without visiting inside) where you can spot hidden buildings, built between XIV and XIX centuries.
- Stroll around the old streets is a 3 hours circuit where you can feel the charm of old times. Make sure you don’t miss Rue des Teinturiers, a pretty little street that resembles to Venice’s.
Of course, there many guides that will tailor a walking tour based on the preferences of the group. More info available on the website of Tourism Office Avignon.
The city just across the Rhône: Villeneuve-les-Avignon
If you’re in Avignon, you just have to cross the Rhone, in order to reach Villeneuve-lez-Avignon. From there you’ll discover the beautiful view on Avignon and the Palace, as well as the Fortress of Saint Andrew, or the Philippe-le-Bel Tower.