Mapplr’s Travel Guide Avignon presents our editors’ selection of the best hotels and restaurants in Avignon, must-see attractions and shopping recommendations in the city.
Travel Guide Avignon: best hotels
If you are going to stay in Avignon during the annual festival in July, you must make reservations well in advance. Here is our list of favorite hotels in and around the city. The main disadvantage of staying within the walls is there is hardly any parking. This is cumbersome if you want to spend some of your time exploring Provence. You will have to park in one of the lots outside the walls. The hotels outside Avignon which are recommended here are not that far at all and it is easy to get to Avignon, park just outside the city walls and explore the city on foot.
Hotels inside the walls of Avignon
Hotel d’Europe: A restored 16th century mansion turned into a luxury hotel inside the walled city. Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens once stayed there.
La Mirande: historic boutique hotel at the foot of the Palais des Papes, has an excellent restaurant and outdoor dining terrace.
Hotels outside the walls of Avignon
La Magnaneraie: luxury hotel with swimming pool and lush gardens outside Avignon.
Le Prieuré: A former convent, now a Relais et Chateaux five-star hotel renovated in 2007, just outside the walled city, in the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon.
Auberge des Noves: Located 10 minutes from Avignon, boasts one of the best restaurants in the region with outdoor dining terrace, has 23 rooms, beautiful gardens — perfect for enjoying the weather in southern France.
Travel Guide Avignon: best restaurants and bars
Le Bercail (162, rue des Cannotiers): Grilled meat and fish, pizza and Provençal specialties.
Christian Etienne (10, rue de Mons): The most highly regarded restaurant in Avignon (next to the Palais des Papes), creative Provençal cuisine, magical experience, the chef is a Maître Cuisinier de France (Master Chef of France, one of the highest honours in France).
Le Gambrinus (62 rue Carreterie): Longing for a beer, especially when it’s hot outside? Gambrinus has an astounding selection of beers from Belgium and Germany, and whiskies, too. The menu consists of dishes that go well with beer: mussels with fries, hamburgers, sausages, steaks, and charcuterie.
METropolitan, Collection Lambert (5 rue Violette): Restaurant designed by Andrée Putman, set in the courtyard of the Collection Lambert, a museum housed in an 18th century mansion. Quiet atmosphere, modern cuisine.
83 Vernet restaurant and bar (83 rue Joseph Vernet): Located in a 14th century building, serves Provençal cuisine in atmospheric surroundings.
Travel Guide Avignon: main attractions
Avignon is one of the best preserved historic cities in France, a walled city filled with splendid hôtels particuliers (grand private mansions, many of which have been turned into boutique hotels) and churches. Avignon was the seat of the Popes between 1309 and 1423 and its history dates back to pre-Roman times when the settlement on the Rhone River was already inhabited by Gallic tribes well before the Romans arrived.
The Romans turned Avignon into an important trading post because of its advantageous position along the Rhone. Together with other Roman towns, Avignon formed part of a flourishing network of settlements in Gallia Narbonensis, the area we now know as Provence and Languedoc. But it was the Papacy in the 14th century that turned Avignon into what it is today. The Popes built the walls that surround the city and the imposing Palais des Papes (an impregnable fortress complex), commissioned magnificent churches and homes for the clergy, and attracted rich merchants and bankers (who in turn built one of the first foreign exchange markets, the Avignon Exchange).
Here are the must-see places in Avignon:
- Palais des Papes: get there very early or late in the afternoon.
- Avignon Festival: Takes place in July each year, music/dance/theatre.
- Saint Benezet Bridge: This is the bridge you see in all photos of Avignon.
- Les Halles gourmet food market
- La Cathedrale Notre Dame des Doms
- Collection Lambert (museum)
- Musée Calvet
- Musée Louis Voland
- Musée Lapidaire
Travel Guide Avignon: shopping
(1) Moulin de la Chartreuse: This ancient olive oil mill was built in the 14th century and thrives to this day. Locals bring their own olives and have oil extracted from them. You can buy olive oil, tapenades, and olive oil soap. There is also a bistro that serves fresh local cuisine and a salon de thé for afternoon tea with wonderful desserts.
(2) Yannerick Serignan Antiquités: Founded in 1919, this antique shop has been in the family for three generations and is located in the centre of Avignon, in a 15th century chapel. They speak English and deliver antiques to anywhere in the world.
(3) L’Ami Voyage (5 rue Prevot): Remarkable book shop with art and architecture books, and a cozy tea room.
(4) Galerie 5.6.7 (17 rue de la petite Fusterie): vintage designer furniture from the 1960s and 1970s.
Day trips from Avignon
Avignon is situated between Languedoc and the Luberon. You are within 30 minutes by car from the ancient city of Nîmes (known for its well-preserved Coliseum and Roman temple), Arles (where Van Gogh lived and painted), Uzès, and the hill towns of the Vaucluse (Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Bonnieux).
Read our Provence articles, including hotel and restaurant reviews.