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Pocket Guide: Avignon

Book a hotel in one of the major cities in the beautiful region of Provence; Avignon was once the seat of the pope and centre of the Catholic world. It’s a legacy that has left a number of impressive ecclesiastical buildings throughout the city. Situated on the banks of the Rhone, this one time European City of Culture still houses Les Palais des Papes, the world’s largest Gothic building edifice. However, it’s much more than just religious history in Avignon. It has been a major trading post for centuries and home to a thriving modern art scene, as well as cutting edge cinema and theatre.

Where to Stay in Avignon

Ile de la Piot - A thin strip of land that divides two rivers, connected to either bank by a series of bridges. You can get the best views of Avignon city centre from here.

Place Pie - Famous for its covered market open everyday until 1pm, selling the best local produce including cheese and wine.

Pont d’Avignon - The famous bridge that was once one of only a few crossing points on the Rhone. Legend has it the foundation stone was hurled into the water by a young shepherd.

Villeneuve-les- Avignon - Located on the other side of the river looking over at the main part of the city, Villeneuve-les- Avignon was founded by Philippe le Bel and still boasts a castle he built here.

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel in Avignon

The Place du Palais is the main attraction in the city, once home to popes for several decades in the 14th century as they fled the corruption of Rome. Surrounded by smaller squares, including the Place Pie with its covered market, you can wander these streets for hours. Have a look at the ruins of Le Pont Saint-Benezet, built in the Middle Ages and one of the few ways to cross the Rhone back then. You can also check out a selection of modern art museums as well as museums hosting ancient artefacts from the city’s Roman and even pre-Roman past.

Take a bike out along the river or catch a boat and explore the city from on the water. There are plenty of Rhone cruises available. Avignon is also famous across the world for its theatre festival which takes place in July. The majority of the performances are in French but they are some in English too. You can also take in a film at the Cinema Utopia, a hundred year old establishment complete with wooden staircases and 17th century paintings. Pick up some bargains every Sunday morning at the flea market at Place des Carmes or excite your taste buds at one of Avignon’s many excellent restaurants.