5 reasons to put Avignon on your bucket list

avignon from above

When we got to Avignon, we realized what we’d intended to be a pit stop had actually turned into an all-day stay. Hey, shit happens, things go wrong.

But what we thought was a massive mistake actually turned into a massive happy accident.

Avignon, as it turns out, is delightful.

 

1. It’s steeped in history

From the Pont Saint-Bénézet to the Papal Palace to each of its twisty, winding streets, Avignon is soaked in just as much history as any other big city in France.

For several hundred years, Avignon was a major seat of papal power in the Catholic world, even housing several popes, themselves, after Pope Clement V fled Rome. Relics of the Avignon Papacy – from exhibits within the palace, to cathedral spires, to mosaics in the city square – remain everywhere.

The Pont Saint-Bénézet was initially built in the 1100s and, through poor construction and war, only has four remaining arches. Perhaps the most interesting part about the bridge – other than its loveliness and the fact that it inspired the song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” – is that its originator, Saint-Bénézet, is actually interred in the Saint Nicholas chapel, which is practically a pigeon haven, but still stands on the remaining portion of the bridge.

Boyfriend Perspective: From churches to opera houses and museums for each, the history here is quite thick. View theatre costumes of old on display in a museum, walk through the gardens for a view across the river, enjoy the plaza when local artisans setup their wares. There’s something for everyone.

 

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2. Avignon is nothing if not scenic

Head out onto the “Pont d’Avignon” for lovely views of the river. Walk the walls of the city to get views of the surrounding area. And follow the old walls to the gardens above the city and behind the Papal Palace for for views of just about everything else. This is one of those cities where it’s hard to take a bad photo, you know?

Just be prepared to hike for some of these views, and bring bottled water if it’s warm out. You’ll be glad you did.

So, do it #forthegram?

 

3. It’s warm!

Speaking of “bring bottled water”…

Average temp even in February is a whopping 44F. And in summer, you’ll be roasting with the best of ’em. Despite the river, the breeze can leave something to be desired. Good news is, one of the best things to do in Avignon is find a beautiful cafe and take a nice, long sit-down. And if you need something else to do… there’s flower ice cream. Sure, you can find it various places in Europe. But, come on. It’s flower ice cream, and it’s delicious 😀

The toastier months are also the best months for lavender, so pack breathable separates and prepare yourself for sweat and beauty.

Boyfriend Perspective: Shade and seating were limited, and I can’t recommend water or the ice cream roses we found enough. We stopped more than once for the picturesque ice cream flower, plenty of flavors to mix and match. Most places also sell bottled water, but be careful – most have a strict minimum on debit/credit purchases.

 

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4. Avignon is SO QUIET

When we hopped out of the Uber in the center of old Avignon, the first thing we both noticed was how quiet it was. Granted, it was early in the day on a weekend, but the Paris we had left a few hours earlier was already bustling at 7am. In fact, the first thing we heard was accordion music, floating over to us from a nearby pedestrian street.

Now, the folks we did see often ran more with the retirement crowd, so it’s not exactly Ibiza. But it’s picturesque in every way you expect a French city to be.

 

5. Basically, it’s the Paris you always wanted.

If these photos aren’t enough to convince you…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Boyfriend Perspective: This happened to turn into a very nice, albeit super sweaty (see us in pants!!), experience that could only have been better by planning to actually go here rather a stop on the road. We will have to go to the other side of the river next time…. and, you know, not get stuck here.

 

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Also published on Medium.

38 Replies to “5 reasons to put Avignon on your bucket list”

  1. confettiandbliss says: Reply

    What a beautiful, historic, mystical place. I am so in need of an adventurous vacation. I’d love to make it a trip to Avignon – even if it’s only in my dreams. 🙂

    1. Aw, you totally should… but in real life 😉 hopefully you’ll get the downtime you need soon!!

  2. Seems like the perfect place to accidentally spend a full day in. Can’t complain when you have warm weather and those scenic views. I also find it so interesting learning about the history of places I’ve never been.

    1. Definitely no complaints here! We missed our original itinerary – okay, I missed it, hahah – but Avignon ended up being so interesting that we had zero regrets 🙂

  3. I love this post. The “boyfriend perspective” is fun!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And the boyfriend is pretty fun, too – I think I’ll keep him 😛

  4. I like visiting quieter destinations, and history, culture and food are always high priorities on my list. From your photos and descriptions I know Avignon would be a town I’d really enjoy exploring.

    1. Yes! You’ll get all 4 of those things in Avignon, for sure 🙂

  5. Oh it looks so quaint and charming, sounds idyllic. I’m definitely adding it to my list of places to visit.

    1. Yay! Let us know what you think when you make it there 🙂

  6. I always want to visit places like Avignon in Europe; far from the city lights. And that flower ice cream, hmm… something I won’t miss if I go there.

    1. Places like this definitely do make for a nice change of pace, even if it’s unexpected. Hope you can make it there soon 🙂

  7. Avignon looks beautiful from your photos! I usually visit quieter destinations after I had spent a day or 2 at the touristy spots. It feels like taking a breath of fresh air.

    1. 100% this! It helps clear the mind and gives you a chance to recharge. Helps when you get a feast for the eyes, too! 🙁

  8. Gorgeous photos! I love exploring calmer locations and getting off the tourist path. I’ve been here and it’s a great town to explore.

    1. Thank you so much! It really was a breath of fresh air 🙂 glad you enjoyed it, too!

  9. Ha ha – OF COURSE there’s Uber in one of the world’s most beautiful ancient cities. Because why not? On to more important things : What the heck is flower ice cream? Is it ice cream flavored with flowers or shapped like flowers?

    1. Hah yes! Uber is pretty much omnipresent, at this point 😛 Flower ice cream was actually shaped like a flower on the cone! I think you can get it in several places, but this was our first run-in with it. Since the day was so hot, I ended up getting a few flavors of sorbet in mine (sooo refreshing), while Luke stuck with some more traditional ice cream flavors (which he insists was also refreshing, for the record 😉 ).

  10. Nice post with amazing pictures! I like the historic touch of the city.. a must-visit destination for history lovers like me. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Heck yeah! The history was one of the best parts, to be honest. Felt like it had touched everything we saw 🙂 Hope you make it there!

  11. Pit stop or not Avignon totally looks like an amazing, romantic getaway. I cant believe how quiet the streets were. I love coming across little treasures like this!

    1. Right?! We were stunned, too – and in the middle of June! Definitely worth a trip 🙂

  12. Can’t say Avignon has been top of the France to do list but it certainly looks magic. Love the old windie streets and flower icecream on a 44 degree day sound the bomb. We’re actually finding that the older we get the more we appreciate France. We started with fairly average visit to all the touristy spots in Paris but since then have had some amazing French adventures. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It wasn’t really a priority for us, either, to be honest. It was ~supposed~ to just be a base camp for the day. But I guess getting somewhat stranded had the upside of showing us just what a lovely place this really is 🙂 Would love to hear more about your French adventures, though – sounds like you’ve had a really great time! 😀

  13. I’ve only been to Paris but I have heard a lot of good things about Avignon. You did a great job encapsulating the essence of the place with your photos. I’ll definitely consider visiting next time I’m in France.

    1. We were in the same boat… I feel kind of lucky to have gotten ~stuck~ here! hah I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos – and hopefully you get to make it here yourself soon! 🙂

  14. I love that it’s quiet and yet the Paris I always wanted. Perhaps it is the place where I can relax and learn to ride a motorbike.

    1. Hey, who knows! It seems very much like Avignon is largely what you make it 🙂

  15. Always nice to find an unexpected place to stay and be for awhile, Avignon is a spot I too have been through but time was of the essence back then and we couldn’t linger for long. Enjoyed your post to fill me in on things I missed out on. Cheers!

    1. Yay, I’m glad! Maybe you’ll get back to enjoy the things you missed at some point… who knows 🙂

  16. Love your go with the flow attitude. I certainly wouldn’t mind spending some time in Avignon. The city looks so charming and peaceful. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

    1. Hah, Luke was a little more go with the flow than I was, for awhile… but I finally got my act together 😉 it really is the best place to get stuck!

  17. I like how you include the boyfriend perspective in your posts. The place looks so amazing. And you are right it is the Paris I want to experience.

    1. Oh, I wouldn’t dream of talking about our adventures without his sense of humor included – it’s one of the things that makes our trips so much fun! 🙂

  18. Okay, Avignon is so going on my bucket list! It looks stunning. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Yay! I hope you make it there soon. Bonus is that you can use it as a home base for visiting the lavender fields – so you can kill two birds with one stone 😉

  19. Your photos are enough to say that Avignon is a cool place to visit. It’s a good thing that you got stuck in a place like this. I love how you made the most of it and turned the being stuck into something memorable and worth while!

    1. I agree – I think we were very lucky, in that we couldn’t have asked for a better place to be marooned 😀

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