The Perfect 1, 2 or 3 Days in Avignon Itinerary

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by Brittany Scott-Gunfield

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Our Avignon itinerary will take you on a fantastic journey through the historic streets of this provencal city, from palaces and popes to wine and walls. Over 1, 2 or 3 days in Avignon, you’ll have plenty to do at a relaxed pace to really get a feel for life in this former papal residence.

How Many Days in Avignon?

Although small in size, Avignon has a long and rich history, from the Romans to the present day, with most of the city’s attractions becoming World Heritage Sites in 1995.

Its main significance lies in being one of only three papal seats outside of Rome, and of course, the Papal Palace remains Avignon’s main tourist attraction. However, you’d be forgiven for wondering how many days to spend in Avignon, as little else is known about the city unless you’re a true francophile, a local, or from its twinned town of Colchester, England.

For 1 day in Avignon, you can plan to see the main historic sites as they are located very close together within the city’s walls, such as the Pope’s Palace and gardens, and the neighbouring semi-destroyed bridge.

If you have 2 days in Avignon, you can add a walk around the ramparts and through the charming city streets as well as a visit to a museum.

However, if you have 3 days, you can even go on a day trip to one of the vineyards on the Rhône, to the hilltop villages or to the nearby historic city of Arles, overflowing with Roman history and delighted with memories of Van Gogh.

Historic Avignon
Historic Avignon

Getting To & Around Avignon

Avignon is located in the South of France, relatively centrally, at 100 km northwest of Marseille, 100 km northeast of Montpellier and 230 km directly south of Lyon. The easiest way to reach Avignon from outside France is by flying into Avignon-Provence Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from the city centre or one hour via bus line 62.

From other cities in France, you can reach Avignon by high-speed train (TGV) from most major cities, including Paris, or via coaches or ridesharing applications. Avignon’s central train station is just outside of the city walls, however as it’s a small city, it’s just a ten-minute walk to the centre. You can view train schedules here.

You can enjoy a very pleasant long weekend in the city without needing a car, however, if you want to go further afield during a longer stay or as part of a Provence itinerary, you should rent a car to be able to get around more easily, particularly to the charming small villages located to the South and East of Avignon or even make your way to Aix-en-Provence.

Rental cars are available from Avignon-Provence Airport as well as other rental agencies outside of the city centre. You can browse car hire options here.

Within Avignon, there are buses and trams around the outside of the city walls, and some bus routes crossing the centre, however, due to the proximity of Avignon’s main highlights and the charming cobbled streets, it’s much better to explore the city on foot or by rental bike.

There is also the “Petit Train” also known as the little touristic train that takes you through a small circuit around the city to see 11 stops, including the Palais des Papes, Rocher de Dom and the Pont d’Avignon. Or a longer city circuit takes you over the rivers to Barthelasse island and the Philippe le Bel Tower.

Small road in Provence
Small road in Provence

1, 2 or 3 Days in Avignon Itinerary

Day 1 – Historic Centre

Whether you take the Petit Train first or explore Avignon on foot, in one day in Avignon, you can take your time while visiting the most important historic buildings and relics the city has to offer. You can also take a walking tour to get more historical information about the city.

Palais des Papes

The Pope’s Palace is undoubtedly the highlight of any Avignon itinerary, so naturally comes as the first stop on ours. While most people know of the Vatican City being a papal enclave in Italy, few know that Avignon was formerly one in France, after Pope Clement V moved to France in 1309.

It was in 1316 that Pope John XXII began construction on the Palais des Papes, aided significantly by his successors Benedict XII and Clement VI, as demonstrated by the slight archaeological differences in the palace’s design.

The Papal Schism took place in 1378 as the College of Cardinals in Rome, eager to bring the papacy back to Rome, elected the first Pope Urban VI before nullifying this election and electing Pope Clement VII instead.

Due to Pope Urban VI’s unwillingness to step down, Pope Clement VII was forced to return to Avignon, with the support of King Charles V of France, beginning the era of two Popes that caused chaos in Europe as leaders were forced to recognise only one.

The schism ended finally in 1429 with the resignation of the Avignon and Roman Popes, the death of the Pisan Pope who ruled briefly from 1409 to 1410, and the election of Pope Martin V.

Later becoming a governmental residence and then barracks during the French Revolution, the Palais des Papes is now open to visitors who can learn more about the former papal residence, complete with awe-inspiring frescoes by Matteo Giovannetti and gardens.

If you’re spending one day in Avignon, you can buy a ticket that includes a visit to the Pont d’Avignon. You can also visit the Notre Dame des Doms d’Avignon (the main cathedral of the city), next to the palace, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site from the 12th century, holding several tombs on the Popes of Avignon.

Head down from the Palais des Papes, past the impressive baroque façade of the Hôtel des Monnaies to the palace gardens.

Pope's Palace
Pope’s Palace

Jardin des Doms

Sat alongside the Rhône River, is a beautiful elevated public garden that gives visitors views of the provencal countryside and Mont Ventoux to the Northeast.

It’s the perfect place for a picnic, so pick up a fresh baguette and some fromage before you arrive, to sit and relax among the ponds, ponies, and palace to the rear, before continuing your Avignon itinerary.

The Jardin des Doms, also referred to as the Rocher de Doms, is free to enter every day from 7.30 am until sunset.

Pont d’Avignon

Actually called Pont Saint-Bénézet, but affectionately nicknamed the Pont d’Avignon, this mediaeval bridge over the Rhône was built in 1234 with 22 stone arches, replacing the wooden bridge that had been located there one hundred years before.

Unfortunately, the new stone Pont Saint-Bénézet faced the same misfortune as the wooden bridge, being regularly destroyed by the Rhône floods and finally being abandoned after a major flood of 1669.

Now with only its gatehouse and four remaining arches in Avignon, the Chapel of Saint Nicholas on the second pier of the bridge, and the Philippe-le-Bel Tower on the West side, little remains of the historic bridge, but it’s still worth a visit.

Famous in France due to a little ditty from the 15th century, while you’re on the bridge, make sure to give a rendition of “Sur le Pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse, l’on y danse…” as you spin in circles with your partner for the full experience; if you’re alone, here’s your chance to make a friend!

Pont d'Avignon
Pont d’Avignon

Tour de Philippe-le-Bel

Crossing the Rhône River on Pont Édouard Daladier, or taking a free boat, to the Île de Piot, and continuing across Pont du Royaume over the West divergence of the Rhône River, you’ll reach the small village of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, where after a couple of minutes walking along the riverside, you’ll come across the wonderful Philippe-le-Bel Tower.

This tower marked the end of the Pont d’Avignon and provided the French gateway to the Papal enclave of Avignon before the river destroyed it in the 1600s. Meaning, Philip “the fair” the tower’s name comes from King Philippe IV who commissioned it around the turn of the 14th century.

Closed in January and on Mondays, you can go up the tower for €4.50 before finishing your evening with a stroll along the riverside, or a 15-minute walk up to one of France’s oldest olive oil manufacturers, Maison Bronzini, formerly The Moulin de la Chartreuse, to try some delicious natural olive products and perhaps buy a souvenir, or enjoy a freshly prepared meal in their new restaurant.

Day 2 – Ramparts

Continue to discover the historic sites if you have 2 days to spend in Avignon, with its well-preserved ramparts, museum and exquisite cuisine.

Remparts d’Avignon

As you start your second day, you can see remnants of the former defensive perimeter from the 1200s in the city planning as you navigate the winding cobbled streets towards Avignon’s Ramparts.

This 8-metre tall city wall extends for 4.3 km around the historic centre since it was built by order of Pope Innocent VI in the mid-1300s to protect the papacy from angry French mercenaries. Over the centuries, the ramparts have met a great number of attacks and required numerous repairs; today there are 15 entrances for vehicles and a further 11 for pedestrians.

As it’s free to go up and walk around every day of the year, this is a must-do activity over 2 or 3 days in the city. You can pick up a brochure in the tourist information centre before walking around the ramparts, or book a guided tour to learn more about the history of the city walls.

Avignon City Walls
Avignon City Walls

Palais du Roure

The Palais du Roure is less of a palace and more of a hôtel particulier – an old French mansion belonging to one family over many years.

Formerly the home of the Baroncelli-Javons, a Florentine family, for 5 centuries before being changing hands and eventually being bought by author Jeanne de Flandreysy in 1918, the Palais du Roure is now a diverse centre of provencal history and culture, an art museum and the location of Flandreysy’s bell collection.

Although the contents are a touch bizarre, this Gothic mansion is architecturally charming and is free to enter to see the permanent collections from Tuesday to Saturday.

Musée Calvet

Just a 4-minute walk from the Palais du Roure towards the Rhône, lies another incredible hôtel particulier, this time from the 18th century, and a Jesuit Chapel forming the Calvet Museum.

Esprit Calvet, who gives the museum his name, was an enlightenment-era economist and collector, who donated his full collection of antiques, his library and natural history collection to the city of Avignon to be turned into a museum upon his death in 1810.

The mansion houses a wonderful fine art collection, while you can find all kinds of gemstones, precious metals, porcelain and tapestries in the lapidary area of the museum located in the former chapel. You can also find a number of archaeological finds from other continents that Calvet had collected.

Closed completely on Tuesdays and every other day from 1 – 2 pm for lunch, the museum’s permanent collection is free and you can pay on arrival for any current exhibitions.

Eating in Avignon

Due to its location and climate, the food in Avignon is exceptional, with seafood from the nearby Mediterranean, Spanish influence from the West, French influence from the North and perfect vegetable-growing land, giving the city an abundance of fresh ingredients to use in its cuisine.

Depending on which season you’re visiting Avignon in, you can find ample fresh cherries and strawberries, asparagus and garlic, and of course cheese, at most regional markets in the area as well as being served in the bistros and auberges.

Try the typical Avignon dish Foie de Veau en Persillade (veal liver in a parsley sauce) from central restaurant Caf’Thiers on Rue Thiers to get a taste of the area, or pick up some famous provencal charcuterie from your nearest butcher, supermarket or market stall (such as in Les Halles d’Avignon) to enjoy with your picnics or apéritifs. You can even do a cooking class with a chef at Les Halles market!

There is no doubt that eating local cuisine is one of the best things to do in Avignon.

Day 3 – Day Trips from Avignon

Avignon is a small city but in a great location, so once you’ve seen its highlights, take a day trip to one of the many interesting provencal villages and historic sites, by car, public transport or guided tour.

Pont du Gard

Just 26 km West of Avignon is the amazing 1st-century aqueduct, the Pont du Gard.

Either by car or line 115 bus from Avignon’s central bus station to Vers-Pont du Gard, you can easily arrive at the historic site, walking from the entrance into the grounds, with the museum where you can learn about the history of the aqueduct, shops full of local souvenirs and cafe where you can have a pleasant breakfast or light lunch. You can also take a guided half-day tour that also visits some other nearby villages.

After 15 minutes walking through the site, you’ll arrive at the incredible bridge. Although 2,000 years old the Pont du Gard is an amazing piece of architecture today, with its three arched tiers spanning 275 metres across the river Gardon. You can buy entry tickets here.

You can cross the aqueduct to get a different perspective and head to the Terrace restaurant for dinner if you have your whole day there, or explore the other historically significant bridges, Pont du Combe Roussière, or Pont de Valmale, or visit the ancient Chapel of St Peter or ruins of the formerly 50 km long aqueduct.

Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard


Driving 50 minutes South or taking the TER for 17 minutes from Gare d’Avignon to Gare d’Arles, you’ll arrive in the magnificent city of Arles. The centrepiece of the city is the Arènes d’Arles – an incredible two-tiered Roman amphitheatre. You can also take a guided half-day tour.

You can visit the amphitheatre to learn of its history as a place of gladiator battles, or book an event in advance, as the amphitheatre now hosts concerts and other events throughout the summer months.

You can also wander down the Alyscamps; a seemingly Gothic version of the Parisian Champs Élysées, this spectacular tree-lined route takes you past many ornate sarcophagi into an old Roman cemetery with a church from the 1100s.

Or, you can head to the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, an art museum dedicated to the artist who lived in the city from 1888 to 1889, proving to be one of his most prolific periods in which he produced 200 paintings and 100 drawings and watercolours, including one of his most revered works, Sunflowers.

Although many of his famous works are scattered around Europe or housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, this museum provides a great opportunity to see a broad spectrum of the artist’s work in the very place that inspired them. It was also while living in Arles that Van Gogh cut off his ear while being visited by friend Paul Gaugin.

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles
Roman Amphitheatre in Arles


One of the best day trips that you can do, even if you just have 2 days in Avignon, is to the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just 12 km north of Avignon. There are a number of tour options such as this half-day tour or this afternoon tour.

Although its name is larger than the village itself, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an absolute must-see place in Provence and one of the best places to visit in Avignon, especially for oenophiles, or connoisseurs of wine, as the region produces around 14 million bottles of wine annually.

Gaining its name officially in 1893, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is named due to the ruins of the mediaeval castle that sit above the village that was originally built for Pope John XXII in the 1300s. Nowadays, the village is much more famous for its production of deep red wines, which you can taste at many of the 320 local vineyards and wineries, covering 7,746 acres.

One of the most notable is Château Fortia, a family-run vineyard whose post-WWI struggle prompted husband and pilot Baron Le Roy and his friend Joseph Capus to begin work on a system of naming and protecting French wines, which was adopted in 1936 and is known today as the appellation d’origine contrôlée, or AOC.

Or visit Château La Nerthe; one of the oldest wineries in the region, dating back to 1570 and now one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s biggest and best.

Since 93% of wine produced in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region is red, you won’t find much white wine, however there is a great variety in the types of red on offer, which you can see in the AOC wine shop, Vinadea.

Gordes, Roussillon and Sault

If you have 3 days in Avignon or more, you should definitely rent a car or book a guided tour such as this full-day tour or this half-day tour to visit the nearby villages of Gordes, Roussillon and Sault. A circular drive visiting each provencal village from Avignon would take under 3 hours, so you have plenty of time to spend in each village between enjoying the views from the road.

40 minutes driving from Avignon is the hilltop village of Gordes, with scenic views of the surrounding countryside and winding cobbled streets taking you past the white stone buildings.

Just 15 minutes East of Gordes, is the picture-perfect village of Roussillon. Sat at the foot of the red Vaucluse mountains which lend its colour to the pinkish houses, in one of the world’s biggest ochre deposits, surrounded by Provence’s famous lavender fields and green pine trees, Roussillon is bursting with so much colour, it’s hard not to take out your sketchbook and paint brushes or takes picture on every corner.

There are many little ateliers dotted around the village too, demonstrating the influence the amazing landscape has on the artistic side of its inhabitants.

Continue for 30 minutes to the village of Sault for a real taste of Provence. You can take a free 30-minute guided tour of the Distillery Aroma’Plantes where you can take part in workshops to make your own lavender oils and soaps with the natural fragrances available to learn the skills passed down through generations of the lavender farmers of Provence.

Village of Roussillon
Village of Roussillon

Where to Stay in Avignon

Hotel Boquier – Mid-range visitors to Avignon will love the cosy hotel. Situated in the city centre within easy reach of all of the top attractions, there is a range of rooms to choose from, parking included and breakfast on offer in the mornings.

Hotel De Cambis – Luxury travellers will love this sophisticated hotel in the centre of Avignon. There are plush and comfortable rooms to choose from, a hearty breakfast available in the morning and a range of other amenities for guests to enjoy.

Chapelle du Miracle – These apartments are a great choice for those who would prefer their own flat when visiting Avignon. There is a range of different apartments to choose from, all fully furnished with everything you may need and they’re located in an excellent location for exploring the city.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Avignon hotels!

Although small, Avignon has a long and significant history which can be witnessed all over the city, from the food to the art and architecture. So don’t miss out and book your trip to Avignon today!

Are you planning a trip to Avignon? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

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