Avignon Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Avignon

Avignon, the city set on the left bank of the Rhône River in Southern France, boasts centuries-long fascinating history and a large number of attractions to match, fit to excite any history- and architecture buff. Among the most famous local sights are, undoubtedly, the ones associated with the Papal presence. Follow this orientation walk to discover Avignon’s most prominent places of interest.
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Avignon Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Avignon Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Avignon (See other walking tours in Avignon)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 20
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Place du Palais
  • Palais des Papes
  • Notre Dame des Doms
  • Musée du Petit Palais
  • Rocher des Doms
  • Jardin du Rocher des Doms
  • Pont Saint-Bénézet
  • Place de l'Horloge
  • Opéra Théâtre
  • Hôtel de Ville
  • Fondation et Musee Calvet
  • Eglise du Couvent des Celestins
  • Musee Angladon-Dubrujeaud
  • Eglise Saint Didier
  • Rue de la Republique
  • Les Halles d'Avignon
  • Church of the Cordeliers
  • Pénitents Gris d'Avignon
  • Maison de Jean-Henri Fabre
  • La Rue des Teinturiers
Place du Palais

1) Place du Palais (must see)

A great place to see Avignon's major attractions is from Place du Palais, or Square of the Papal Palace. Here you can see the famous Palais des Papes, Notre Dame des Doms, the Petit Palais Museum, great examples of old architecture and much more. Place du Palais is the historic center of the town, many diverse events have taken place here.
Palais des Papes

2) Palais des Papes (must see)

The Palais des Papes is a historical palace, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Since 1995, the palais des Papes has been classified along with the historic center of Avignon, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Palais construction began in AD 1252. Avignon became the residence of the Popes in 1309, a period known as the Avignon Papacy. The Palais was built in two principal phases with two distinct segments, known as the Palais Vieux (Old Palace) and Palais Neuf (New Palace). By the time of its completion, it occupied an area of 11,000 m² (2.6 acres). The building was enormously expensive, consuming much of the papacy's income during its construction. The interior of the building was sumptuously decorated with frescos, tapestries, paintings, sculptures and wooden ceilings.

The majority of the Palais is now open to the public; it also houses a large convention centre and the archives of the département of Vaucluse. With 15,000 m2 of floor space, this is the biggest Gothic palace in all of Europe.

Opening hours:
The Popes' Palace is open every day of the year. The last tickets are sold one hour before closing time.
From 1st September to 1st November : 9am - 7pm; From 2d November to 29 February : 9:30am - 5:45pm; March : 9am - 6:30pm; From 1st April to 30rd June: 9am - 7pm
July : 9am - 8pm; August : 9am - 8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Notre Dame des Doms

3) Notre Dame des Doms (must see)

Avignon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon) is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and a French national monument. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Avignon. A Romanesque building, mainly of the 12th century, its most prominent feature is the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on the western tower. Among the many works of art inside, perhaps the most beautiful is the mausoleum of Pope John XXII, a masterpiece of the 14th century Gothic carving.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Musée du Petit Palais

4) Musée du Petit Palais (must see)

The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery. It opened in 1976 and has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many "primitives" from the collection of Giampietro Campana. It is housed in a 14th century building at the north side of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes.

Named Petit Palais to distinguish it from the Palais des Papes, it was built before the Western Schism by Cardinal Bérenger Fredoli the Elder c.1318-20, with four wings around a cloister and a service court.

The building was attacked and bombarded during its use from 1396 to 1411 as a fortified citadel during the Western Schism, and was a wreck by the time the war ended. In the second half of the 15th century, Bishop Alain de Coëtivy and his successor, Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) carried out restoration work, giving the Palace more or less its present appearance by 1503. The Palace became known as the Palace of the Archbishop when the city was promoted to an archbishopric soon after della Rovere took office.

During the French Revolution, the palace was nationalised and sold off, becoming a Catholic secondary school in the 19th century and (from 1904 to 1976) a professional and technical school.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rocher des Doms

5) Rocher des Doms (must see)

Rocher des Doms is a rocky outcrop on the left bank of the Rhone which served as protection for the foundation and development of the city. Evidence suggests that this site has been occupied since the Neolithic era. A 17th century historian published a chronicle dating back to 725, indicating that the city was then confined to Rocher des Doms. It is a great place for a promenade and to see the amazing view of the river and the city. You also can take a walk in Jardin des Doms and admire its many statues, including Millénaire Capétien, Jean Althen, Felix Gras, Paul Sain, Paul Vayson, Monument aux Morts and the beautiful Venus with the Swallows fountain.
Jardin du Rocher des Doms

6) Jardin du Rocher des Doms (must see)

Established in 1831 on the rocky hill known as Rocher des Doms, this very attractive garden with beautiful sculptures and monuments, such as Venus with the Swallows, the bust of Jean Althen by Félix Gras, Paul Saïn and Paul Vayson, and Monument aux Morts by Bottinelli, dates back to 1924. Jardin du Rocher des Doms is perfect for a promenade or meditation, and a great place for kids to have fun.
Pont Saint-Bénézet

7) Pont Saint-Bénézet (must see)

The Pont Saint-Bénezet, also known as the Pont d'Avignon, is a famous medieval bridge in the town of Avignon, in southern France. It was built between 1171 and 1185, with an original length of some 900 m (2950 ft), but it suffered frequent collapses during floods and had to be reconstructed several times. Over the centuries, it became increasingly perilous as arches collapsed and were replaced by rickety wooden sections. The bridge was finally put out of use by a catastrophic flood in 1668, which swept away much of the structure. Since then, its surviving arches have successively collapsed or been demolished, and only four of the initial 22 arches remain intact today.

The bridge's construction was inspired by Saint Bénézet, a local shepherd boy who (according to tradition) was commanded by angels to build a bridge across the river. After his death, he was interred on the bridge itself, in a small chapel standing on one of the bridge's surviving piers on the Avignon side.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place de l'Horloge

8) Place de l'Horloge (must see)

Place de l'Horloge is one of Avignon’s most legendary squares, along with Place du Palais. Many streets connect to it. To the north is the famous Plaias des Papes and the Cathedral Notre Dame des Doms. Place de l'Horloge houses three important historic buildings, Hotel de Ville (City Hall with a clock tower), Maison du Jean Vilar (house museum of a famous theater man) and the Opera House. Several cafes and street vendors of crafts and souvenirs, portrait artists and cartoonists can be found here. If you travel with children, there is great entertainment for them on the carousel! In July, Festival d’Avignon is held here, offering diverse activities including clowns and balloons.
Opéra Théâtre

9) Opéra Théâtre

Opéra Théâtre, located in the center of Horloge Square is one of Avignon’s top attractions. Built in 1847 by Théodore Charpentier and Léon Feuchères on the site of the former Italian-style theater, Comédie, destroyed by fire in 1846, it offers opera, classical music, dance and theater plays.
Hôtel de Ville

10) Hôtel de Ville

Hôtel de Ville and Hôtel des Monnaies are the city’s two most famous civic buildings. Hôtel de Ville, Avignon's City Hall, has three words engraved on it, Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, which is characteristic of state buildings. Built in 1844, it typifies mid-19th century architecture. Its design is a combination of several styles, utilizing Corinthian columns, a clock tower, arches, rectangular and classic windows, a belfry and other elements.
Fondation et Musee Calvet

11) Fondation et Musee Calvet (must see)

La Fondation Calvet is an art foundation named after Esprit Calvet, who left his collection and library to it in 1810. The foundation, museum and library are state supported. Original paintings, archaeological items, coins, medals and medieval sculptures have been added to its collection, as well as a significant amount of works of art from the Louvre. The archaeological collection and medieval sculptures are now housed separately in Musée Lapidaire, once the chapel of the Jesuit College. The main museum is in an 18th century city mansion, to which modern buildings have been added. The library bequeathed by Calvet, and the collection of over 12,000 coins and medals have been moved to a different location in the city.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Eglise du Couvent des Celestins

12) Eglise du Couvent des Celestins

The Celestine Church, located in Corps-Saints Square, was ordered under Clement VII in 1389 and the first stone was laid by Charles VII. Initially a wooden chapel on the tomb of Pierre de Luxembourg, the church itself was built from 1395 to 1452. The cloister and the monastery were built in the mid-15th century. The 1625 altar of the Chapel of St. Peter of Luxembourg was rebuilt in Baroque style by Francis Royers of Valfenière, and in 1693 the relics of Saint Benezet were transferred here. During the Revolution, it stored Avignon’s richest works of art. The Celestine Order was founded in 1264 by Pierre de Moron, who became pope under the name of Celestine V in 1294. This order practiced with slight differences to the Rule of St. Benedict.
Musee Angladon-Dubrujeaud

13) Musee Angladon-Dubrujeaud (must see)

A relatively young museum in Avignon, Musee Angladon-Dubrujeaud opened its doors in 1996. A private museum created by Jean and Paulette Angladon-Dubrujeaud, descendants of acclaimed art collector and couturier Jacques Doucet, they have donated their family inheritance and home. Mostly rare art objects are on display here, including works of Picasso, Braque, Max Jacob, Marcel Duchamp, Guillaume Apollinaire, Cézanne, Sisley, Derain, Degas and Modigliani. 16th century Buddha statues, Louis XVI chairs, terracotta Danseuse and a series of portraits by Hubert Robert, Joseph Vernet, Sir Thomas Lawrence are also proudly exhibited here.

Opening hours: From April 1st to October 31st, Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
From November 1st to March 31st, Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m.
Closed on December 25th and all January long.
Eglise Saint Didier

14) Eglise Saint Didier

The collegiate church of Saint-Didier is a Gothic church built in the mid-14th century. The first text to mention it, however, dates back to 1008, when a donation was made by the Bishop of Avignon Rostaing Abbey Montmajour. It was Cardinal Bertrand de Deaux who willed this church be built on his estate after he died. Inaugurated on September 20, 1359, Eglise Saint Didier is considered the most characteristic of Gothic Avignon architecture. Two pictures by Simon de Chalons entitled The Flagellation and The Descent of the Holy Spirit are preserved here. Also remarkable is the cross commissioned in 1478 by King Rene to Francesco Laurana that adorns the altar. This bas-relief is regarded as one of the earliest existing Renaissance works in France.
Rue de la Republique

15) Rue de la Republique

Rue de la Bonaparte, built from 1856 to 1867, required a major displacement of residents in order to be built. Between Porte de la République and Place de l'Horloge, you will see the old barracks converted into the Hautpoul Civic Center, Agricola Perdiguier Square, the Jesuit church on the former cloister of Saint-Martial, the High School Chapel that became the Lapidary Museum, a bronze fountain by Paul Pamard, the bust of Frederic Mistral and the famous sweet shop, Péchés Gourmands. On the Rue de la République you'll see shops selling the latest in fashionable clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Les Halles d'Avignon

16) Les Halles d'Avignon

Located in the center of the city, Les Halles is the downtown heart of Avignon. In this authentic Provencal market, traders offer quality fresh local products. Open each morning from Tuesday through Sunday, discover its exciting atmosphere, unmatched flavors and aromas. As part of a downtown restoration project, the city installed a green wall around the market. The foliage on the north façade has been entrusted to botanist Patrick Blanc.
Church of the Cordeliers

17) Church of the Cordeliers

Just down Rue des Teinturiers on the left, the Church of the Cordeliers marks the site of the old Franciscan convent. Introduced into Avignon the year of the death of their founder St. Francis of Assisi in 1226, in 1233 they settled on this site, outside the walls, near the city gate. Today, the truncated summit tower and apsidal chapel remain. The eternal love and muse of Francesco Petrarch, Laura de Noves, was buried here.
Pénitents Gris d'Avignon

18) Pénitents Gris d'Avignon (must see)

Pénitents Gris d'Avignon Chapel belongs to the Penitent order, which had a large presence in France. It is an archetype of Penitent architecture and their symbol. As with most of their chapels, it is very simple, but its interior is well worth seeing. It preserves a unique and rare collection of religious artifacts. Built on the site of Sainte-Croix Oratory, where Louis VIII prayed, since the French Revolution it is the city's only remaining Penitent church.
Maison de Jean-Henri Fabre

19) Maison de Jean-Henri Fabre

Jean-Henri Fabre, born December 21, 1823, was a scientist, naturalist, an eminent entomologist, a writer fascinated by nature and winner of a large number of prizes. He can be seen as the father of ethology, the science of animal behavior, and ecophysiology. His findings are highly regarded in Russia, the United States and especially in Japan where he is considered the model of the scientist and man of letters. Jean-Henri Fabre is also known worldwide for his entomological memorabilia, which have been translated into fifteen languages. Born in St. Léons Lévézou (Aveyron), in 1853 he moved to Avignon. His best known residence was at 14 Rue des Teinturiers. An old building with a large wheel in front of it, it is a recognizable landmark on Dyers Street.
La Rue des Teinturiers

20) La Rue des Teinturiers (must see)

La Rue des Teinturiers, one of Avignon’s oldest streets, overlooks the Sorgue canal. This street was the location of intense manufacturing from the 14th to the 19th centuries; twenty-three water wheels provided power to the local mills and silk factories. The river's pristine waters were used to wash and rinse Indian fabrics. Although only four wheels are left today, it is still known as the street of wheels. It has become one of the city’s top landmarks, attracting people during Festival d'Avignon. Places of interest include Figure IV's house, Jean-Henri Fabre's residence, Grey Penitents Chapel and the bell tower of the Franciscan convent.

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