If you ever took a French class in High School, you probably learned the song “Sur le pont d’Avignon,” about dancing on the city’s famous bridge. Even if you haven’t taken a French class you still may be familiar with Avignon from European history because it’s also home to the Palais des Papes. In the 14th Century, Avignon was the capital of the Papacy and was home to 7 popes! This Southern French city is worth visiting not only because of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but also because of its provençal charm. Located in the Vaucluse department of Provence, Avignon is nestled East of the Rhône river and filled with picturesque streets, light stone buildings, and history. After a long weekend trip to Provence, I have crafted an itinerary for the best things to do on a one day trip to Avignon.
11 AM: Arrive and Explore the City
The easiest way to get to Avignon from other parts of France is by train! The city center is a less than 15 minute walk away from the train station. Before exploring around, I would recommend visiting the Tourist Office. You may be thinking that the Tourist Office is overrated and unnecessary, but I actually find it to be very helpful, especially when visiting a new city. Don’t get me wrong, I love off the beaten path , non-touristy, in the shoes of a local type trips. However, if I’m visiting a place just for one day, I find it helpful to get the rundown of a city’s highlights from an expert. Plus you’ll get a free map and some brochures you can keep as souvenirs. You also don’t have to do everything the guides suggest; I always like to have a backup plan just in case my wandering gets too aimless.
After picking up a map from the Office de Tourisme, walk around the historical center and admire the beauty of this medieval city! You can choose to follow one of the itineraries proposed on the map or just go with the flow! Walking around, admiring the streets of this Provence town and taking loads of photographs is a perfect morning activity and a good way to get acclimated with the area.
12 PM: Lunch at Les Halles Covered Market
When I was researching for what to do in Avignon, I read about Les Halles, and indoor food market filled with fresh produce and local specialties. After visiting the food market in Narbonne, I knew I had to visit the one in Avignon too. I love sitting outside on restaurant terraces in the summer, but I also love saving money. By eating lunch to go from les halles, you can economise while also enjoying the culinary delights Provence has to offer!
When it came to choosing what to eat, the little café Basilic and Citron inside the market caught my eye. As a vegetarian, I sometimes struggle finding food in France, but in the summer in Provence, it’s a veggie lovers dream thanks to all the fresh produce grown in the region. I ordered a salad with roasted veggies and a fresh pressed carrot ginger juice to fuel me for sightseeing in the afternoon. I also didn’t have to worry about walking and eating or finding a bench to sit on because there was a small terrace outside les halles!
2 PM: Visit the Palais des Papes
After lunch, visit the Palais des Papes. I would recommend booking your tickets online ahead of time because this historical site is a huge tourist destination and the lines can get long! I would also suggest purchasing a combined ticket for the Palais and the Pont d’Avignon so you can save some money. Another important thing to note is that visiting the Palace can take up to an hour or more, so plan accordingly.
One interesting aspect of the visit is the use of tablets as digital guides. As you move through the palace, the audio guide plays music and narrates about life in the 14th century. In addition to acting as a digital map, the tablet also has an interesting feature that shows you what the different rooms looked like à l’époque. When entering each room, you scan a symbol with your tablet and then you can move the tablet in different directions to see how the rooms were decorated from ceiling to floor. Although this is an innovative and interactive museum element, I personally found the tablet to be a bit cumbersome especially since I was trying to take photos at the same time.
3 PM: Afternoon Stroll in the Jardin des Doms
After spending a lot of time inside visiting the palace, why not get some fresh air and some lovely views of the city? Head North of the Palais des Papes towards the river and admire the Avignon Cathedral on your way! Keep walking up the Rocher des Doms and enjoy the lovely gardens atop the hill. Here you can get some of the best views of the Pont d’Avignon. There’s also a tiny little vineyard hidden in the park that produces some of the region’s famous côtes du Rhône wine.
4 PM: Le Pont d’Avignon
After admiring the bridge from above, it’s time to see it up close. The official name of the bridge is le Pont Saint-Bénézet, but it is colloquially known as le Pont d’Avignon. One of the reasons why this stone bridge is famous is that it is unfinished! Originally the bridge was wooden and built during the 12th century before being dismantled a century later and rebuilt in stone. However, the project was halted in the 17th century because the flooding of the river often destroyed its arches. Thankfully, some of the bridge still remains today and is sturdy enough to walk on!
5 PM: Souvenir Shopping and Ice Cream
If you visit in the summer like I did, the Southern France heat might be starting to get to you. The perfect reprise to the sun’s rays? Ice cream of course! The best local ice cream in Avignon can be found at the glacier La Princière. It’s on the opposite side of town from the bridge though, so I would suggest making the most of the trek to get your ice cream by taking advantage of the boutiques and small shops on your way. Stock up on savon de Marseille, lavender sachets, olive oil, and much more.
After souvenir shopping, it’s time for the afternoon goûter of ice cream! At La Princière, you’ll find all kinds of ice creams and sorbets inspired by regional specialties and seasonal fruits. Enjoy a simple cone to go or indulge in a decadent sundae! I ended up going with a waffle cone with a scoop of macaron amandes amères and apricot sorbet. It was divine!
6 PM: Rest or Apéro
After visiting monuments and walking around you may be tired and want to head back to your accommodation and take a bit of rest. If you’d prefer to make the most of the day or profiter, why not head out and find a café and have a little apéro, the French version of happy hour? If you’re in the South of France in the summer, why not have a glass of rosé? If not wine, you can always go for un café or even a refreshing limonade.
7 or 8 PM: Dinner
In France, dinner is usually eaten later in the evening. In the summer, the sun sets much later, so you will find people enjoying dinner outside quite late (though not as late as in Spain). As I mentioned before, Avignon is a popular tourist destination so you might want to make dinner reservations. My boyfriend and I walked around for a little while until we found a restaurant that we liked that had an open table. We ended up at La Cantine du Nid, which has a local and organic menu. It also had vegetarian and vegan options, which I was a fan of. I had gnocchi with a cream sauce, roasted eggplant, and salad accompanied by a fruity glass of rosé. For dessert we shared an île flottante, which made me feel like I was dining at a gourmet restaurant.
9 PM: Sunset View of the City
If you finish dinner by 9 PM, you will be able to catch a lovely sunset view of the city and the bridge during the summer. If you finish eating after 9 or if visiting in the winter, you are still sure to enjoy this view at night thanks to the lights that glow up the city and the dancing reflections in the Rhône. To enjoy this view, head to the Pont Éduard Daladier, another bridge located West of the Pont d’Avignon. It was a little past sunset when I went so my pictures aren’t the best quality. However, I’m sure you’d be able to get some gorgeous pictures of Avignon if you time it just right!
You only have to go halway across the bridge to get some good photos, but if you want another perspective, cross the bridge and head down to the little park on Île de la Barthelasse. Stroll along the chemin de berges for a romantic night walk or enjoy a picnic with friends and admire the view of the lights dancing on the river.
Want to see more of Avignon? Watch my vlog below!
I hope you enjoyed this guide for the best things to do on a one day trip to Avignon! If you arrive earlier in Avignon and have some extra time I would also suggest visiting one of the many art museums. The Musée Angladon was on my list because of its Impressionist Paintings , but I unfortunately didn’t have time to visit. If you’re visiting Provence in the summer, I would also highly suggest taking a trip to see the region’s impressive lavender fields. Let me know in the comments what you would be most excited to see in Avignon!
À la prochaine,
Don’t forget to save this guide about the best things to do on a one day trip to Avignon to Pinterest!