I know it might seem surprising to write an article about things to see in Avignon. But precisely, what better time we can ever have which is planning for the future. At the end of this article, I also suggest things to visit in Avignon when the monuments are closed.
Things to visit in Avignon: the important ones
Like every city on the planet, the Popes’ city has its unmissable monuments.
The Popes’ Palace
If there was only one building to choose from when visiting Avignon, it would be this one. This jewel of Gothic architecture is the precise symbol of Avignon. Coming to Avignon and not visiting the Popes palace is like going to Barcelona and not exploring the Sagrada Familia. Or going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty. You wouldn’t go to Rome without visiting the Colosseum, right?
Be prepared if you decide to visit the Popes palace, it takes between 2 to 3 hours to appreciate this beautiful building and see all the interesting rooms.
The Popes palace was built by two popes in the 14th century. Despite its immense size for the time, it was built in less than 50 years. It was the debate of the papacy for almost a year. he was also at the center of the Great Western Schism which saw two popes clashes one in Rome and one in Avignon. He suffered tremendously during the French Revolution. Indeed, later it was transformed into prison and barracks. All the furniture and drapes were destroyed.
Fortunately for the past three years, the entrance ticket has been including a tablet that takes you back to the days when the papal palace was sumptuous.
The Avignon bridge is the city’s other emblem. Prior to the construction of the Popes Palace, it was this bridge that made Avignon a rich and famous city. Built in the 12th century, the bridge was abandoned in the 17th century because it was too fragile and too expensive to rebuild. There are only four arches left, out of the 22.
The bridge is an integral part of the medieval visit of the city. This is why there is a couplet ticket to visit the bridge and the Popes Palace.
What I like best about visiting the bridge is the view of the Popes Palace. We can go back to the Middle Ages and imagine the reaction of people upon their arrival in Avignon.
Other important monuments: to visit in Avignon
The Avignon city has many monuments other than the Popes Palace and the Avignon bridge
I have already written an article on my 5 favourite churches in Avignon. As Avignon is the ancient capital of Christendom, it is obvious that the city has many churches. Each has its own style and history. Do not hesitate to enter each of them to soak up the medieval atmosphere of the city.
For a small provincial town, Avignon is lucky to have many museums.
There are municipal museums which offer various collections. In addition, the museums are free to visit. So you have no excuse not to visit them.
In my article on municipal museums, I give you all the details of each museum. Make sure to check out the other article.
Avignon also has private museums of great quality.
The Lambert collection
The Lambert collection is one of the most important collections of contemporary art in France. In addition, the building that houses the collection is a unique place. Indeed, the city of Avignon has made available two sublime mansions. The hotels of Caumont and Montfaucon are the work of Jean-Baptiste Franque in the 18th century.
By discovering the works of the Lambert collection, you have the opportunity to discover the work of Jean-Baptiste Franque and one of the city’s emblematic mansions. I have never discovered something beautiful like this, it is one of the things to visit in Avignon during your stay.
The Angladon museum
This museum is the result of the will of Jean and Paulette Angladon-Dubrujeaud. They are the heirs of the couturier Jacques Doucet. The latter was a great collector. He bequeathed his impressive collection of art works from the 18th to the early 20th century. Jean and Paulette Angladon-Dubrujeaud had no descendants, they decided to create a museum and bequeath their collection which they themselves had enriched.
They also owned the mansion, the Hôtel de Massilian, which they donated to the Angladon-Dubrujeaud foundation, which manages the museum and the collection.
You can also admire art work of Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Joseph Vernet, Vincent Van Gogh and many more.
Some rooms are furnished with 17th and 18th century furniture. When you visit this museum, it feels like you are visiting the Friends’ House. This is a definite unique experience in Avignon.
Things to visit in Avignon when the monuments are closed
We are in a complicated situation and the monuments may remain closed for a while. So are you thinking, should we cancel this trip to Avignon so far? The answer is obviously no. There is a lot to see and visit in Avignon even when the monuments are closed.
Avignon is a medieval city. In the scheme of the old town, a square or a square is not the priority. Fortunately, the city has evolved over the centuries and history has made up for this absence. Now the city has certain places which are jewels to visit.
Popes Palace square
The Popes Palace square is one of the consequences of the great schism in the West. In fact, anti-pope Benedict XIII decided, in anticipation of a second siege, to destroy the houses in front of the Palace. These are 3 streets that disappeared. The place was not a worth visit until 1603, when the rubble began to be cleared.
Today, it is the largest square in Avignon and one of the most prestigious. Indeed, it benefits from the presence of mythical monuments. The Popes Palace of course, but also the small palace, the Hôtel des Monnaies and its Rococo facade, the Cathedral of Notre Dame des Doms and the Hôtel Calvet de la Palun. The square also gives access to one of the streets classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, the Rue de la Veille Poste. You can visit this square several times a day. Light gives a different image at every moment of the day or evening.
The clock square
Located next to the Popes Palace square, this place is quiet new. Although as early as the 15th century, planning works were undertaken, it was not finished until the 19th century, the square acquired the actual place by this time. The Town Hall closes the square on its west side. This administrative center of the city echoes the Roman era. The city forum was also located in the same location.
In addition to the neo-classical facade of the Town Hall, you can admire the recently renovated opera house. Be sure to look down for the city crest.
Saint Didier square
This square has regained its pedestrian character, thanks to the recent development work. What a pleasure to stroll through this square and admire the Saint Didier church. Try to find the wood and cocoon market listing. It is the vestige of this ancient market which operated during the day time when the city had a large silk industry.
This place is ideal for strolling, taking your time and enjoying your trip. The large trees bringing freshness much appreciated during the summer months.
The most beautiful streets in the city
There are many pretty streets in Avignon but there are two that are must visit during your stay.
The Peyrolerie street
Joseph Girard considers that “It is one of the most picturesque and dilapidated streets in the city, one of the most evocative of old Avignon”. this street cut in the rock runs alongside the Popes Palace. When you walk on this street, you will feel the weight of the Palace watching you. You can admire the height of the papal colossus as well as the Doms rock on which the Popes Palace rests.
The street of the dyers
This street is the most unique in the historic center. No other street looks like this. The canal which crosses it, its cobblestones, these hundred-year-old plane trees as well as historical monuments make this street the most beautiful in the city. Take advantage of the carved stone benches, admire its wheels, vestiges of its industrial past, or stroll by looking at the house of the fourth figure or the remains of the Cordeliers church. This street invites you to relax and explore. What could be better when you visit Avignon?
We organise guided night walking tours to discover the city from a different perspective. We showcase the offbeat places. Do not hesitate to contact us in order to visit Avignon in a wandering way.