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Avignon Hotel Accommodation

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Where to stay in Avignon

Exploring Avignon

The charming, historic French city of Avignon lies in the far southeast of the country, with its ancient town centre bordered by medieval city walls and holding the Palace of the Popes and the famed Avignon Bridge. The equally famous Festival of Avignon, a cornucopia of culture and the performance arts, is held every year and draws huge numbers of visitors from across the world. The city is bisected by the mighty River Rhône at its confluence with the River Durance, and was originally an important Roman town which soared into historic prominence in the 14th century as the refuge for the Pope after he fled the corruption of Rome.

As a result of the presence of the papal court, extravagant palaces and mansions with glorious interior decoration were constructed and are still seen today. Over 100 churches were built, enriching the town’s architectural glory, with many now deconsecrated and converted into dwellings, shops and even a cinema. The magnificent Papal Palace and the cathedral are the highlights here, and the legendarily divinely-inspired Pont D’Avignon bridge, now ruined, is another favourite sight for the city’s many thousands of visitors.

Sights nearby

Avignon is relatively small, with hotels such as the imposing, upscale La Mirande and the charming Hotel le Cloitre St Louis close to all its landmarks and attrctions.

Palace of the Popes
Avignon’s magnificent, massive Palace of the Popes held the luminaries of the 14th century Catholic Church after their flight from the corruption and filth of Rome. It’s the largest Gothic edifice in the world, and dominates the city. Mostly empty of all but frescos, it’s an imposing testament to a troubled time.

Ramparts and ancient city center
Avignon’s ancient heart is now a UNESCO World Heritage site crammed with historic churches, quaint back-street squares and stone-built houses. The imposing ramparts were built during the Middle Ages to defend residents from the plague and marauding invaders, and 16,000 of Avignon’s citizens still live within the sheltering walls.

Pont Saint- Benezet
Known worldwide as the Pont d’Avignon, the ruined bridge is one of Avignon’s major landmarks. Built in the Middle Ages as a river crossing for locals, it was inspired by a shepherd boy who later became a saint due to his visions of angels. Just four of its original 22 arches remain, and the saint’s private chapel still stands adjacent to the structure.

Museums
As befits a city soaked in history and culture, Avignon’s museums display fine collections of artefacts and artworks from across the world as well as from its own significant heritage. Recommeded are the Calvet Museum, the Musee du Petit Palais and the Musee Lapidaire.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

The Provençal variations of classic French cuisine and traditional recipes offered here make Avignon a hub for gourmet dining. Garlic, olive oil, herbs and spices feature strongly in the regional dishes, and the city is home to several famous chefs and their restaurants. Thierry Baucher’s Les 5 Sens is known for its cassoulet and foie gras, and Restaurant Christian Etienne is the fine dining heart of the city. The city’s pretty back-street squares are local hangouts, lined with eateries, cafés and bars charging far less than the establishments on the main tourist drag and offering a far more traditional ambience. Avignon is famed across France for its lavender fields, with lavender products from essential oils to cosmetics, perfume and luxury bath fragrances the most popular souvenirs in town. The Rue du Limas is the place for art and antique galleries, with more set in a mall in the basement of the Hotel du Petit Louvre.

Public transport

If you’re travelling overground via the Eurostar, the French TVG superexpress train links Paris with Avignon TVG Station, just over a mile from the town centre, with the entire journey taking around six hours. Avignon is a small city, easily explored on foot and with a good choice of hotels including the 14th-century Le Prieure. Local buses run to pretty Provençal villages near the town, taxis can be hired and the Mediterranean coastline is easily reached by train, bus or self-drive.

Avignon travel guides

Avignon Travel Guides