Avignon in 3 Days: everything you need to know

Avignon still exudes the atmosphere of its most glorious period in the Middle Ages. There is much to see in the city, I tell you how to make the most of three days in the city.

Sonsoles Jimenez

Sonsoles Jimenez

10 min read

Avignon in 3 Days: everything you need to know

Papal Palace | ©Hans

Avignon is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in France, but three days are enough to enjoy it and its surroundings at leisure. My advice is to spend the first two days touring the city and leave for the third day one of the many interesting excursions you can choose from.

Day 1: Bénézet Bridge, Palace of the Popes, city walls and Barthelasse Island

Avignon Bridge| ©Francesco Arecco
Avignon Bridge| ©Francesco Arecco

The first day in Avignon should be devoted to visit its great architectural jewels, those for which the city is a World Heritage Site and some others that are also part of its essence. The visit to the Palace of the Popes, the Episcopal Complex, the city walls or its famous bridge alone will take you a good part of the day.

But there will also be time for relaxation, since in Avignon there are idyllic gardens and green areas. They are perfect to rest and recharge your batteries because you will still have a lot to visit in the city. This is my suggestion for your first day.

Saint Bénézet Bridge

The day begins at the Saint Bénézet Bridge, one of the symbols of the city. It was built in the 12th century and at the time was an incredible work of engineering. Today you will not be able to appreciate it, but it was 900 meters long and had 22 arches.

Time, neglect and the floods of the river almost destroyed the bridge. In fact, only four of those arches remain. But they are enough for you to imagine the magnitude and beauty of this infrastructure in its years of splendor.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, it 's the bridge that inspired the song Sur Le Pont d'Avignon, which I'm sure you've heard at some point. One more reason to buy tickets for the Avignon Bridge, which also includes the Papal Palace.

Buy tickets for the Papal Palace and Pont d'Avignon Bridge

Palace of the Popes

From the bridge, crossing the wall, you will reach the largest Gothic palace in the world. It was built in just 20 years and is one of the most visited monuments in France. Therefore, it is worth spending a good part of the morning touring the impressive rooms of the Palace of the Popes.

The chapels, the papal apartments or the terraces, everything is impressive. But the visit will not only reveal a magnificent building. You will also learn why there were nine popes who did not have their seat in Rome. My advice: buy tickets to visit the Palace of the Popes in advance to avoid waiting.

Book tickets for the Papal Palace in Avignon

Notre-Dame des Doms

It stands next to the Palace of the Popes and is the only building in Avignon that dares to overshadow it: it is the basilica of Notre Dame des Doms. Although it may not seem so to you when you look at it, the construction works began in the 12th century. The building you will see is the result of countless modifications.

Before entering it, look up and notice the impressive figure of the Virgin that crowns its bell tower. It is made of gilded lead and measures six meters. Once inside, admire the Gothic mausoleum of Pope John XXII, the choir or the chapel of the Resurrection, they are magnificent.

A great option to not miss anything is to hire the tour of Avignon with guided visit to the Papal Palace.

Book the tour of Avignon with guided visit to the Papal Palace

Jardin des Doms

Doms Gardens| ©Sorin Popovich
Doms Gardens| ©Sorin Popovich

Next to the Notre-Dame des Doms a small oasis awaits you. The Jardin des Doms is in the highest part of Avignon, where the city was born. Today it is a charming park. But if it is worth a visit, it is not only for this reason, but also because from here you will have a magnificent view of Avignon.

A stop to taste the gastronomy of Avignon

In France you eat early, between 12:00 and 13:00. In the vicinity of the Palais des Papes you will find a number of places to recharge your batteries. Arlequin, La Cuisine de Papa or La Sou'pape if you want a quick bite to eat are some options.

What can you have? Bouillabaisse is a very typical soup, as is ratatouille. And if we talk about sweets, try the papalines d'Avignon, which are curious chocolates with a pink color and a dark chocolate heart.

The wall of Avignon

To take advantage of the afternoon, my advice is to visit one of the great treasures of the city. Already in Roman times, a wall surrounded Avignon. But the one you will see is much later, it is from medieval times.

The . is just over 4 kilometers long and embraces the old town. But its function was not only to protect it from enemies, but also from the floods of the Rhone, the same that swept away the Saint Bénézet bridge.

If it's a nice day and you feel like walking, you can take a leisurely stroll through it and discover its 7 main gates and its 39 towers (36 square and 3 circular). Otherwise, just admire it from the river bank.

And don't forget that by booking a tour of Avignon you will pass through the ramparts and enjoy the wonderful views.

Book a tour of Avignon

The Barthelasse Island

From the part of the wall that overlooks the river, I suggest you cross it and take a walk on the island of Barthelasse. It is not just any island, it is the largest river island in Europe and a great place to have the best views of the city, with its famous bridge in the foreground.

If you still have strength left, rent a bike and ride it. It's one of the best excursions in Avignon. Otherwise, just go for a ride. By the way, you can get there by crossing the Daladier bridge, which is not far from the Palais des Papes. You can also do it on the river ferry, it's free.

Avignon by night

Back to the city, and to end the day, I recommend a short walk through the center to see it illuminated. By the way, you can have dinner in one of the bars that have a terrace if the temperatures are warm enough. And, if you just want to have a drink, La Place Pie, in the heart of the city, is a perfect place.

Book the tour of Avignon with guided visit to the Papal Palace

Day 2: tour of the historic center, museums and walk along the Rhone River

Place de l'Horloge| ©Elliott Brown
Place de l'Horloge| ©Elliott Brown

The second day in Avignon will be dedicated to strolling through its historic center. For the afternoon, I will give you two alternatives: visit one of the museums of the city or take a boat trip on the Rhone.

Place de l'Horloge

This always lively square is the heart of Avignon and a perfect place to start the tour of the second day in the city. It sits on the ancient Roman forum and is full of bars and terraces. You can also admire two magnificent buildings: the Town Hall and the 19th century Grand Opera of Avignon.

But why is it called Place de l'Horloge or Clock Square and not something else? If you look at the Town Hall, an ancient bell tower protrudes from it. Its clock, on which you will see two huge figures, is the one that gives its name to the Place de l'Horloge.

St. Peter's Basilica

Following the Rue Favart you will soon arrive at St. Peter's Basilica. It is a beautiful Gothic temple built in the fourteenth century.

Do not miss the details of the facade, such as its two towers or its monumental doors, which are full of details. Inside you can admire six beautiful chapels and a fantastic wooden altarpiece.

Book a guided tour of Avignon

Les Halles market

Les Halles market in Avignon| ©Jamie Barras
Les Halles market in Avignon| ©Jamie Barras

From the basilica, you just have to cross the elongated Place Jérusalem to reach the Les Halles Market. It is unmistakable because of the vertical garden that covers its facade. But the best is inside.

The market houses about 40 stores where you can find some of the typical delicacies of Provence, including sausages, cheese, preserves, sweets and, of course, wines.

Rue des Teinturiers

From the market I recommend a leisurely stroll through the center of Avignon, following the Rue de la Bonneterie until you reach the Rue des Teinturiers, or dyers' street. It is one of the most beautiful streets in Avignon.

The street follows an old canal where mill wheels are still preserved. It was here that the looms for weaving cloth and silks were located and where the dyers painted and washed them. In fact, this was one of the most flourishing businesses in Avignon in the 18th century.

A lunch break

If you want a quick bite to eat to continue your visit, my advice is to backtrack to Les Halles Market. If you prefer something quieter, go back to the Place de l'Horloge. There you will find a number of restaurants where you can feast and then continue to discover the treasures of Avignon.

From this point on, I propose two different plans for the afternoon. Choosing one or the other will depend on your interests or simply on what you feel like at the moment.

First choice for the afternoon: museums in Avignon

If you like art, in Avignon there are a number of museums that may interest you. The first option I offer you to finish the day is to visit some of them. Here is a short list of the most outstanding ones:

  • Petit Palais Museum: it is next to the Palace of the Popes, in the former archbishop's residence. It exhibits a large collection of works, especially by Italian masters of the Renaissance and the Avignon School. Admission is free.
  • Lambert Collection: if you prefer contemporary art, don't miss this museum. It exhibits a good number of works from the mid-twentieth century, owned by art dealer Yvon Lambert. General admission costs around 10 €.
  • Calvet Museum: it is the Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology. Here you will see paintings and sculptures from different periods, furniture, tapestries, historical pieces and a collection of Egyptian coins, among other treasures. The visit is free of charge.
  • Angladon Museum: houses the Jacques Doucet Collection. Here you can admire works by Degas, Manet, Picasso, Cèzanne and Van Gogh, among other artists. General admission costs about 8 euros.
  • Louis Vouland Museum: it is a former noble mansion converted into a museum of decorative arts. The price of general admission is about 6 euros.

Book a guided tour of Avignon

Second option for the afternoon: cruise on the Rhône river

If you prefer to spend the afternoon in a different way, for example if you are traveling with children, one of the most entertaining activities to do in Avignon is to get on a small boat and take a tour on the Rhone. From the waters of the river you will have a completely different view of the city and its major architectural treasures.

You can also go down to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. It is a medieval town that you will love. Don't miss the visit to Fort-Saint André. Then you can re-embark to return to Avignon.

Cultural events

If you feel like it, a great ending for this second day in the city is to enjoy a cultural event. Avignon' s agenda is usually full of shows of all kinds, especially theatrical ones.

Day 3: Excursions around Avignon

Provence| ©Riccardo
Provence| ©Riccardo

Avignon is just a stone's throw away from Avignon and there are countless wonderful places to visit. Therefore, my advice is to reserve the last day to discover some of them. You can choose between full day trips from Avignon or combine two half day trips. It all depends on what you want to see, and there is plenty to choose from.

Excursion to the heart of Provence

Booking a Provence excursion from Avignon will allow you to visit some of the treasures of this beautiful French region. You will see charming villages, such as Roussillon or Gordes. Tours often include the iconic abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque and Sault, known as the capital of lavender. In addition, you can choose between different tours of Provence from Bordeaux.

Book a tour of Provence from Avignon

Tour of the Roman sites

The vestiges of the Roman past in Provence are abundant and by booking a Roman Provence tour from Avignon you can visit some of the most interesting ones.

Tours include a visit to Nimes, with its fantastic amphitheater or the Maison Carée, an ancient Roman temple that is still preserved intact.

Roman site tours from Avignon also include a visit to the Pont du Gard, an impressive aqueduct with two thousand years of history, and the Roman theater in Orange.

Book a tour of Roman Provence from Avignon

Wine tour in the Rhone Valley

The Rhone Valley is known, among other reasons, for the quality of the wines produced there. If you like the world of oenology, this is an excursion you will not forget. The tours usually take place in the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

On the wine tour of Chateauneuf-du-Pape you will travel through immense vineyards to learn from an expert all about the wines of the region. You will also visit a winery and participate in wine tastings.

Book the wine tour in Catheauneuf du Pape

Excursion to discover Van Gogh's traces in Provence

Vincent Van Gogh spent a long time in Provence. He lived in Arles, where he painted about 300 of his works. He was also interned in a psychiatric hospital in St-Rémy de Provence.

Booking an excursion about Van Gogh from Avignon is an activity that, if you are an art lover, you should not miss. The excursions to follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh in Provence will allow you to know very interesting episodes of the painter's life.

Book an excursion about Van Gogh from Avignon

Excursion in the Luberon

Luberon| ©madras91
Luberon| ©madras91

The Luberon massif is a mountainous territory that hides spectacular landscapes and some of the most beautiful villages in France. They are medieval villages with an authentic flavor that you will love, such as Gordes, Vaucluse or Roussillon.

Book an excursion from Avignon

Other alternative excursions

Avignon has a privileged location. Therefore, depending on your interests and preferences, you can also dedicate this third day to visit other places of great interest.

Booking an excursion to Saint Rémy, Pont du Gard and Les Baux in a 5-hour tour where you will delve into the history of this corner of France with an expert guide is an excellent option to put an end to your trip.

Book a tour to Saint Rémy, Pont du Gard and Les Baux