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The papal gateway to provence

The papal gateway to provence

At the gateway to Provence, Avignon is a magnificent reminder of the medieval period when it was the capital of Christendom. Artists have been coming to Provence ever since in search of the “magic light” and aroma of lavender.

Just a bit over two hours from Paris by TGV, Avignon is more than papal history. It’s art, activity, life. Stop at a terrace café along the place de l’Horloge, a long square in front of the hôtel de Ville. At the top end, take a ride on the “Belle Epoque" carousel.

Avignon is also a city of culture. A theater festival created by actor/director Jean Vilar brings over 120,000 spectators. Dance, music and drama come to life in events staged at historical monuments and in the streets.

Although there are now two train stations in Avignon, most travelers will arrive at the brand new Avignon TGV train station at the outskirts of the city. Frequent shuttle bus service is available from the TGV terminal into the city center to the Avignon Centre train station, taking about 10 minutes.

About France

From the Avignon Centre station it is a short 15-minute walk to the highlight of the city, the Papal Palace. The ramparts, built by the popes in the 14th century, still encircle Avignon and are one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence.

Several fine bridges cross the Rhône, including the famous little Pont St-Bénézet known for the nursery song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

If you would like to find artistic inspiration, follow the painters for short trips into the surrounding area. The Provence of Paul Cézanne is a short, 20-minute train ride south to Aix. You can tour his studio of “light and silence” where he created many important works, including an abundance of still lifes – mainly pictures of fabrics, pottery and fruits, especially apples.

Also twenty minutes away is Van Gogh’s utopia of Arles where he painted his Sunflowers and tortured masterpiece Starry Night. Even the Romans recognized the ethereal beauty of Arles, naming the town a second capital of the empire. There are now a number of monuments still standing and are UNESCO heritage sites.

These cities are equal distance from Avignon, but go in a completely different direction – just like the artists themselves. For you, all directions point to a real, traveler experience. Use a France Rail Pass to help you see it all.

Avignon possesses treasures of craftsmanship and small shops that offer a wide selection of olive oils, honey from Provence, nougat, chocolates and Côte du Rhône wines. Don’t forget to taste the speciality of the city - the Papalines, a delicacy composed of chocolate and oregano liqueur.

You are in Provence ! Markets are part of the lifestyle. Open in the morning, Tuesday to Sunday, the covered market, les Halles, is a place where you will find local products : fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, olive oil and other cookery specialities of Provence. You can also walk round a refreshing and charming flower market or an antique market on one of the squares.

Avignon tourist office
41, cours Jean Jaurès BP8
84004 Avignon cedex 1
Tel : + 33 (0)4 32 74 32 74

The city’s tourist office has a helpful personnel, insider information and tips as well as handy maps and brochures. The city’s tourist office also arranges tours and excursions and is a focal point for local accommodation.

Avignon station(s)

Trains are convenient way to reach any town and city in Europe. All main towns have a railway station, while major cities have more than two railway stations. Nearly all railway stations are located in the city centre. Check our map to locate railway station(s) in Avignon.

Avignon city guide