Once the papal seat of power, the town of Avignon is truly a wonderful place to visit, thanks to it’s stunning palace, medieval fortress and the stone ramparts surrounding the town. Located in the heart of the Provence region, Avignon is a wonderful place to visit during the art festival, held annually in the town, and the town is regularly used by visitors the the region as a base to visit other places during their stay.
During the term time the town has a thriving university population, although don’t be put off as nearly all are courteous, polite and knowledgeable. Visitors to Avignon cannot visit without looking at the famous Pont St-Benezet bridge detailed below.
Getting around Avignon is easy if you hire a car, and you can pick up your car from the town centre, or from the Gare Avignon TGV station. You can also fly into the Aeroport Avignon-Caumont which is only 5 miles to the south of the town and is a regional airport.
Nice is around 3 hours away by train, while Marseille is only 30 minutes on the TGV. When you hire a car in Avignon be aware of the 900 free spaces provided by the council just outside the city walls, and the free shuttle bus.
Things to do when hiring a car in Avignon
Palais des Papes
Yet another UNESCO world heritage site located in France, the largest gothic palace in the world is a sight to be seen. Built in 1309 when the Pope abandoned his station in Rome, the Palace is superbly protected with some walls three metres thick and a range of watchtowers giving fantastic views of enemy attack.
Whilst much of the wealth has now left the town, you can still enjoy some fantastic frescos in the building, and the vast empty rooms give you the opportunity to imagine the wealth that once stayed here.
Walls of the City
As well as having fantastic defence of the actual palace, the city is surrounded by some of the best preserved ramparts found anywhere in the world, and they were built between 1359 and 1370, stretching three miles. Look out for a Avignon Passion pass, which will give you discounts on your second and third days in the city, the equivalent of getting into museums for student prices.
Famous as the Pont d’Avignon after a popular childrens nursery rhyme, the bridge was allegedly built in 1185 because the local pastor had a vision that he should build such a bridge across the river Rhone. It’s four spans were washed away in the 1600s, but the bridge has been rebuilt and can be visited for a fee, or seen from the neighbouring Rocher des Doms Park.
Place de Palais
A huge golden statue, this 4.5ton piece of art depicts the Virgin Mary and can be found on top of the Cathdrale Notre Dame des Doms. It is said to protect the city and was built in 1671.