1. Festival d’Avignon and Avignon-Off
If you enjoy theater, performance art, dance or simply entertainment, and if you can plan well in advance for accommodations then definitely get to Avignon for the festivals held in July. The action takes place all over town: inside, outside, on the ground and, yes, in the air (fire-spinners anyone?).
2. Pont St. Bénezet
“Sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse, sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse tous en rond.” Sound familiar? This nursery rhyme dates back to the 15th century and “le pont” or “bridge” it’s referring to is St. Bénezet Bridge.
Built over the Rhône River… well sort of. Originally, the bridge was built with 22 arches at 3,000 feet long. Then the mighty Rhône brought it down, the bridge was re-built, then half of it fell down, and that’s what you see today. So it’s built half-way over the Rhône.
When you buy a ticket (€4) grab the audio guide. It’s free and worth it.
3. Walking the streets
Stroll the back-roads and find your favorite square. Avignon is easy to navigate. There are old city walls surrounding it so you can’t get lost. Stop by the Tourist Information Office, located off the main street from the train station, 41 Jean Jaurès, grab a walking tour map and explore.
4. Palais des Papes
After the French Pope, Clement V, was elected in 1309 the church moved to Avignon and the Vatican bought the city. The tour, €9.50, comes with an audio guide where you can learn more about the Palace.
You can walk and listen at your own pace through the palace. The vast empty rooms contrast the frescos and color of the Popes’ quarters.
5. Parc des Rochers des Domes
Known to be the first site of Avignon, this park has fantastic views, a tiny café and public bathrooms. Always a plus!
Photo of “Festival Off” posters, Avignon, France by M@nuDia