Friday, October 21, 2016

10 Things Not To Be Missed In Avignon, France

Last July, I had an amazing time in Avignon, the city of the Popes. Now let me tell you exactly what I did during my 2 days stay. I hope this serves as a useful guide for those who are planning their first visit to this beautiful medieval city. As for returning visitors, I am sure you've gain more insights, so feel free to let me know in the comment section below! Thank you in advance! 
Palais du Papais

1. Visit Palais du Papais

The size of it is impressive. A step into Palais du Papas, A UNESCO heritage site send you into a time wrap, back the glorious time when it once played a pivotal role in Catholic Church history…For history buffs, you would definitely enjoy your visit. Better yet, hire an audio guide to gain an overview of its legacy. Unlike other castles, there isn’t much ornamentation to dazzle upon. It's sparsity and the bare walls tell the unusual story of the occupants over the ages, the French revolution, the destruction, and reconstruction… and well, the ugly truth of human behavior (that is part of the story). The 45 minutes sound and light show is an eye-opener. By brilliantly utilizing the facade of the Palais, Les Luminescences brings to life the history of the papacy. There is no seating in the courtyard where the light show takes place. 
Do not miss: 

  • The view from the roof! 
  • There is a cafe up there where you can cool off in the AC room and enjoy a light lunch.


  • A combo ticket (Palais du Papais+ Pont d’Avignon+Les Luminescences) is a great money saver.  
  • There will be a security check at the entrance.
  • Video stations are available at various points of interest, in sync with the audio guide (2 Euros, not included in the general admission ticket)
  • Les Luminescences only take place from mid-August until early October. They run 2 shows every night, broadcasting in both English and French. 
  • The courtyard is wheelchair accessible
  • There are quite a lot of steps between the rooms, hence it is not so convenience for those with mobility issue 

Palais du Papais

2. Climbing up to Rocher des Doms

From Palais du Papais, go left and walk up to the top of Rocher des Doms. Set above Avignon, you’ll be rewarded with an unobstructed view of Pont d’Avignon, the Rhone river, Ile de la Barthelasse and the lovely panoramic view of the village below! The garden on top is a perfect mid-day stopover, with a lot of shades and benches for you to enjoy your (half-melted) ice-cream.   

  • Park is free but gated, it closes at 8.00 pm during summer time. 
  • Note the slightly bent trees due to strong wind. 

Rocher des Doms

Rocher des Doms

Rocher des Doms

3. Dance on Pont d’Avignon

I’m sure every French class students have heard of this site. Standing on the abrupt ending of the half-suspended bridge, looking back at the walls of Avignon, the catchy melody of “Sur Le Pont” is all I could think of. The bridge used to cross the Rhone river in full length, connecting the Papal city to the Kingdom of France before it was ferociously destroyed by the flood. I am glad that we visited the site first thing in the morning as it gets quite busy in the afternoon. 
Don’t miss: 

  • The little built-in chapel on the bridge dedicated to the engineer of this historical site— St. Benezet. Learn about the vision he got from God to build the bridge.   
  • Do a little jig to the French folk song “Sur Le Pont” before stepping off the bridge.

Pont d’Avignon

Pont d’Avignon

4. Hop onboard a short cruise line

We took the Les Croisieres Mireio 1 hour cruise with 3 points of commentary audio guide. It is quite a lovely way to spend some quiet time looking out to the water whilst enjoying the refreshing breeze. This cruise takes you up to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon to see the remaining Philippe le Bel tower, and then back.   
Avignon Cruise

5. Stopping at Les Halles longer than you should

I don’t have to remind you how much I love food, and you don’t have to give me that look when I say it is worth spending at least 2 hours in an indoor food market. 
Les Halles on Place de Pie is THE place for a taste of Provence. From the outside, it looks like a regular building with an artistic concept showcasing a botanic wall, but beyond that wall, I wonder if I’ve found heaven. There are a plethora of boutique stalls selling everything from cheese to spices to condiments to shellfish. All these while I thought garlic is an icky food… God knows after my visit to Les Halles, I fell in love with the assortment of pickled garlic! (I loaded up my stomach with them too, guilty!) So, come here to stock up your picnic basket before heading on to point 6!

  • The covered market is closed on Mondays. 
  • There will be a "Petite Cuisine des Halles" cookery demonstration every Sunday morning, except in August.

 Les Halles

 Les Halles

6. Have a picnic in Ile de la Barthelasse 

You simply must arrange some time to visit the little island in the middle of Rhone River— a quiet sanctuary away from the crowd! Take the free boat ride across to the place where you can take the nicest photo of Pont d’Avignon (That’s what they say!) We saw quite a lot of people on their bikes, happily whizzing along in the summer breeze. Yup, the free ferry does take bikes. We’ve heard good things about Au Bercail Restaurant on the Island where we could've enjoyed a delightful dinner with a view, unfortunately, it wasn’t open. Well, hope we have better luck next time! 

  • Walking east from Pont d’Avignon along the river, you will find the port for the free boat ride.
  • Make sure you check the boat schedule before exploring the island! 

Ile de la Barthelasse

Ile de la Barthelasse

Ile de la Barthelasse

7. Try Papalines.

I never intend to leave Avignon without trying this specialty. Fortunately, Miss Teresa from Provence Guide read my mind and got me some from Pâtisserie Mallard, Avignon. I was thrilled to receive a gift-box of Papalines on my last day in Avignon. The papaline is a liqueur containing chocolate, created in honor of the Popes of Avignon since 1960. It is not just any liqueur but “I’Origan du Comtat”, a kind of herb-ish alcoholic beverage dating back to 1835. When I first opened the gift box, I was fascinated by the delicate look of the heavenly chocolate threat— a spherical chocolate shell coated with striking neon-pink fine chocolate strands, resembling a bird nest. Sylvie from Hotel Boquier told us that it is hard to describe Papalines, as it is either a hit or a miss for foreign taste buds (Well, I get it, just like Durian in Malaysia I guess)… but the fact is, I L-O-V-E it. Absolutely, no doubt. I didn’t even have to clean my palate after the tasting. I especially enjoyed the moment I got that surge of warmth in the back of my throat down to my tummy… you’ll just have to try one to believe it!        

  • Be careful when biting into the Papalines, this might get messy. 


8. Shopping for local craft 

I enjoyed strolling on the narrow alleys of Avignon lined with workshops, craft shops, and artisan chocolatiers. The whole streets smell like happiness (a.k.a Chocolate) while we browse the workshops in search of the perfect piece of Avignon to bring home. In my humble opinion, local crafts are always the best choice for souvenirs because they are one of a kind and the best of all you won't read "Made in China" at the back of it. 
My favorite finds: Le cartonnier de MarieAline Géhant Chocolatier

Avignon local craft

Avignon local craft

9. Celebrate Contemporary Art

You don't necessarily have to visit Avignon during the Avignon IN or OFF festival to do so! During my visit, I was welcomed to discover the art collection in Musée Angladon. Set in an elegant 18th-century building, this museum is home to various masterpieces of the greatest artists of Modern Art, including Van Gogh, Picasso, and Sisley.  
Avignon Festival

10. Indulge in French Cuisine 

It would be a shame to come all the way to Avignon and not try out french cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients. We had our wonderful dinner under a tree in Bistrot Balthazar, ah, I still can feel the surge of happiness when my Mont Blanc was served! If budget allows, end the night with a glass of Chateauneuf du Pape wine!

Avignon local ingredients

Avignon local ingredients

Find out more about AVIGNON here! 

📌For more travel tips, like Eat Love Travel Breathe with Miss HappyFeet. 
📌Subscribe to the monthly newsletter for exclusive travel deals, tips, free E-books, monthly giveaway and travel coupons! 

Thank You for Reading! 
Miss Happy Feet is a guest of Vaucluse En Provence Tourism Board and Avignon tourisme while traveling in Southern France, however, my opinion and photos are as always, my own. 
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

No comments: