City breaks to Avignon showcase one of Europe’s best-preserved Gothic palaces, plus plenty of bustling marketplaces.

City breaks to Avignon

This historic town is full of medieval monuments and museums narrating its past and you can’t miss its famous bridge, the Pont Saint-Benezet. A 12th-century icon and source of the childhood song, ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon – it now only stretches halfway across the Rhone but remains a real symbol of the city. Around the Rhone River, you’ve also got the Rocher des Doms gardens, which is surrounded by fountains and sculptures and perfect for panoramic views.

Steeped in history

Avignon might not be the first name on your lips when it comes to historic French cities, but this Provencal centre has one of the best back stories in the country. It leapt to notoriety in the 1300s when the Pope decided to live in the city, and a huge palace was built to celebrate his residence. The UNESCO-ranked Palais des Papes is one of the biggest and best-preserved medieval Gothic buildings on the Continent. It basically became the centre of the Roman-Catholic world at one point. Elsewhere around the city you’ll see historic leftovers of the religious heyday, like the covered markets that have traded for generations and the grand Notre-Dame des Doms that’s illuminated at night.

Festival d’Avignon

Avignon has a love affair with the arts, and every July the city becomes one big stage when the Festival d’Avignon comes around. It’s been going on since 1947, with pop-up theatrical skits, quirky shows and street performances that shun the status quo.

At a Glance

  • Visit the Palace of the Popes
  • Shop around Les Halles market
  • See the remains of Saint Benezet Bridge