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With impressive architecture, a plethora of historical landmarks and ancient Romanesque cathedrals towering above the banks of the Rhone River, the walled medieval city of Avignon in France is simply enchanting.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the opportunities for discovering Avignon’s history and culture are endless. And with so much to see and to, it can be difficult to decide what the best things to do in Avignon are. That’s why we’ve created a guide that will help inspire your must-do list in this celebrated city.
Whether you visit the city during the height of summer, or in the freeze of winter, here are some of the best things to do in Avignon:
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With pretty side streets, fascinating activities and unique experiences, you’ll need weeks to explore all the peculiarities of this remarkable city. Looking for a few suggestions? Here are some fun things to do in Avignon:
Take to the streets of Avignon on an electric bike for an unforgettable tour of gorgeous Provence. Cycle 10 to 15 km through medieval villages, stunning countryside, and rural farmlands and discover a different side to this scenic city.
There’s so much to see along the way – pass the ancient Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, cycle through 2,000-year-old stone quarries, and explore ancient medieval villages in the heart of Provence on this three-hour guided bike tour.
Stop along the way to taste the produce of local farms, such as bright red Provencal tomatoes, or at a hilltop to photograph the unbelievable views. For those who are fit enough, this tour can be done by normal bicycles as well. Drinking water and entrance to the Pont du Gard is included.
Discover the familiar sites in Provence that are featured in so many of Vincent van Gogh’s famous paintings on this five-hour guided tour. Stroll through the Roman city of Arles to see the Langlois Bridge portrayed in no less than four of Gogh’s world-famous paintings, including The Bridge of Langlois.
Travel through olive groves to Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the most picturesque villages in France, for a photo opportunity. While you’re here, watch an extraordinary multimedia show deep inside a limestone quarry at the Carrières de Lumières art centre.
The tour ends in the Saint-Remy-de-Provence where Gogh lived. Check out the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery where this talented artist painted most of his renowned pieces. Entrance to Carrières de Lumières and St Paul de Masole is included.
Don’t miss the L’Isle sur la Sorgue Market, located just a 30-minute drive away from Avignon. Every Sunday morning, the streets of L’Isle sur la Sorgue are transformed into one of the biggest antique markets in France!
But it’s not just antiques that are on offer here – you will also find all sorts of fresh Provencal food and a collection of handcrafted items made and sold by locals. With so many unique and cheap items on offer, this market is one of the best places in Avignon to pick up a souvenir or gift for home.
To get to the market, you should take a bus from the Avignon bus station early in the morning. It takes about 45 minutes to get to L’Isle sur la Sorgue if you’re taking public transport. Get here as early as possible as the vendors start packing up around 1 pm.
Surrounded by rolling vineyards, pretty mountains and dense olive groves, Avignon is a city for romantics. Need a recommendation for date night? Here are our favourite romantic things to do in Avignon:
Avignon is famous for its local produce, from high-quality olive oil to fine French wines. And there’s nothing more romantic than a couple’s wine tasting and olive oil tour in a picturesque medieval village that’s perfect for photographs.
On this five-hour tour from Avignon, you’ll visit an olive oil mill in the valley of Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Provence, to discover and taste black olive, cracked olives and olive oil from the AOC Label.
When you’ve had your fill, you’ll visit a wine estate set at the foot of the spectacular Alpilles mountain range where you can sample the best local wines of the region. Transport, hotel pickups and entrance fees are included so you won’t need a designated driver!
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The park grounds and river banks surrounding the Pont du Gard are perfect for a romantic picnic in the South of France. Pack a basket of fresh food from home – don’t forget the baguettes! – or drive a little further on to pick up food from the farmer’s market in the town of Lizes. Don’t miss trying some sweet orange blossom brioche from the market baker, they’re exquisite!
On your way back to Pont du Gard you’ll pass the town of Vers-Pont du Gard with its ornate bird-caged topped steeple before heading down the enchanting tree-lined road to the park entrance. Having a picnic on the riverside here is one of the most romantic things to do in Avignon for couples.
You don’t have to include a visit to the on-site museum while you’re here, but if you do you’ll enjoy free parking. Purchase a ticket from the booth inside the parking lot and use it to validate your parking when you’re done.
Avignon is famous for its glorious lavender fields that bloom in the summer months from the end of June to the beginning of August. Take a trip to one of the spectacular lavender regions, such as the beautiful valley of Luberon or the mountains around the village of Sault, considered the ‘capital of lavender’.
The opportunities for a few memorable couple’s selfies are endless here! Pick your backdrop: rolling purple lavender fields or one of the picturesque medieval villages of Gordes or Roussillon you’ll visit along the way.
There’s free time to explore the towns: stop for a scoop of lavender ice cream in Roussillon, a town built on top of an ochre cliff, and get a photo of the hilltop village of Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Visit the Lavender Museum and discover how lavender is harvested, distilled and processed into a variety of cosmetic products available at the gift shop. Visit during 15th June and 15th July and you’ll also stop to take pictures of Senanque Abbey, a famous Cistercian church nestled amongst the lavender fields still ruled by monks.
Transport and an English-speaking guide is included.
Discover a wealth of activities and attractions for the whole family in this diverse city. Here are the best things to do in Tokyo with kids:
If you’re travelling in Avignon with kids, you can’t go wrong with a train ride. The Petit Train is a fun way to see the sights of the city with the whole family – especially with little ones or older grandparents.
This tourist train ride takes approximately 40 minutes and passes through the historic town centre and landmarks like the Pont d’Avignon Bridge, the Palais des Papes, and the Rocher des Doms on the banks of the Rhone.
If you’re visiting during the height of summer, the train is a great way to escape the heat and see the sights of the city in a short time. Tours are available in 10 different languages, including special commentary designed for kids, and depart from the Palais des Papes.
Discover the most visited ancient monument in France, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient ruin once served as an aqueduct until the 6th century before being used as a tollgate in the Middle Ages. From the 18th to the 20th centuries, it was used as a road bridge.
Today, this landmark towers 48 metres high above the Garden River and has three vertical rows of arches: six on the lower level, 11 on the second level and 35 on the third and top level. It reaches just 273 metres of its original 360 now that its missing 12 of its arches.
When you visit this famous landmark, include a visit to the museum of Roman history which has child-friendly exhibits and a video that shows you how this incredible feat of ancient engineering was accomplished.
Avignon’s main square is a great place for families to hang out, particularly in the busier warmer months. In the height of summer, you’ll find an endless choice of restaurants and cafes in the square to sit down and enjoy a cold drink. Kids will love the carousel!
If you’re in Avignon in July, you can also catch a free public performance for the OFF theatre festival held in the square, while in December the square is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Don’t miss the chance to explore the extraordinary Christmas market with a cup of hot chocolate during the festive season!
Avignon is a city to be seen at night with its nightly light shows in the summer months and Christmas markets sparkling in the winter. From movie nights to jazz nights, here are the best things to do in Avignon at night:
Watching a movie may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Avignon, but Cinema Utopia is an experience in itself. With a cinema at two locations in the city of Avignon – Republique and the Manutention – it runs an impressive 340 films a year!
The independent Manutention Cinema is one of the only cinemas in Provence that offers OV (original language) movies unlike most of the cinemas that have films dubbed in French.
There are at least 24 screenings every day and the cinema is open to all. No prior reservation is available; just arrive before the movie starts to purchase your tickets. Check the website for the latest film schedule!
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One of the best things to do in Avignon at night is to witness the enchanting light show held every night in late summer. Projected on the walls of the courtyard of the Palais des Papes Fortress, the 3D Les Luminessences D’Avignon light show tells a story of 800 years of the city’s history, from Avignon’s medieval times all the way through to western times.
While English shows are held from Sunday to Thursday from August to October each year, weekend shows are held in French only. Tickets can be booked at the tourist office. Check out the website for the latest schedule.
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The AJMI Jazz Club is one of the best places to get out and enjoy live music with the locals in Avignon. Located at the Manutention arts centre close to the Palais des Papes in the heart of the city, there are jazz open-stages held once a month and regular concerts with international jazz artists.
Keep an eye on the schedule on the website for the latest artists performing at the time you’re visiting the city. Don’t miss out on the jazz nights at AJMI Jazz Club – it’s considered one of the top three jazz venues in France!
Not everything in Avignon has to cost money. There are plenty of free activities and attractions for all ages. Looking for a few suggestions? Here are the best free things to do in Avignon:
The Avignon Cathedral, also known as Cathedrale Notre-Dame des Doms d’Avignon, is one of the most historic landmarks in the city. Dating back to the 12th Century, this Romanesque-style cathedral has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts a Gothic mausoleum for past popes, such as John XXII who was buried here in 1334.
Built over the foundations of a 4th-century Catholic basilica, Avignon Cathedral can be viewed from many parts of the city. There are three statues dedicated to the Virgin Mary both inside and out, the most noticeable of which is a 19th Century gilded statue that perches on the top of the tower.
Inside you will find a 14th-century cupola and the 12th-century white marble throne used by the Avignon popes. Allow at least an hour to explore this glorious interior with its nave, impressive organs, chapels, and tombs. Entry is free.
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If you’re looking for something to do that won’t cost you, take a leisurely stroll through the Rocher des Doms in Avignon. Located on the Rock of the Doms, a peninsula beside the Cathedral des Doms, this shady public park is one of the most peaceful places to spend a day in the city.
Dating back to the 18th century, the park overlooks the Rhone River, the historic city walls and the Bridge of Avignon. Inside the park, you’ll find statues of famous citizens, such as Jean-Paul Marie Sain, and a pond with a fountain topped by an infamous nude statue that caused quite a stir in the late 1800s.
Kids will love the playground here with a slide and carousel while a café open in spring is a great place to grab a drink.
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Take the free shuttle boat across the Rhone to the Ile de Barthelasse, the largest river island in France for a day spent in the great outdoors. The boats depart from a pier about 500 metres east of the famous Avignon Bridge.
Perfect for an afternoon stroll, this island offers incredible views of Avignon, including the Pont d’Avignon, the city walls, and the Palais des Papes. Pack a picnic and bring your bicycle along to explore the island’s riverside tow paths for hiking and biking and horse-drawn carriage rides.
There are half day or full day boat trips running frequently for most of the year, except for late winter and on very windy days. The crossing takes just 10 minutes, or you can walk across the Édouard Daladier bridge in the same amount of time.
As we’ve outlined in our Avignon visitor’s above, you can see there are plenty of activities and attractions that make this historic city well worth a visit. And not all of them are costly – there are plenty of free things to do in Avignon too!
So whether you’re visiting the city with friends, family or with your better half, you’ll find plenty of fun things to see and do, from wine and olive oil tasting, to discovering the city’s landmarks by tourist train or electric bike. In our opinion, the best thing to do in Avignon is to explore the Pont du Gard aqueduct for a glimpse into this city’s centuries-old history.
With the research done, we hope you head out now and discover the best things to do in Avignon for yourself. Have fun!
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.