One Day in Avignon: A Perfect Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Last Updated on June 14, 2024 by April Nicole

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Looking for some must-visit attractions for a day trip to Avignon? I got your covered! Keep reading…

Located on the left bank of the Rhône River, Avignon emerges like a page from history, inviting travelers to explore its rich heritage and charming streets. As part of my journey through the South of France, I was drawn to this medieval city, renowned for its architectural splendor and vibrant cultural scene.

One day in Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offered a perfect escape from the more frequented paths of Paris. My day tour began under the watchful eyes of the Palais des Papes, a testament to Avignon’s prominence in the 14th century.

This itinerary promises to guide you through a tapestry of historical landmarks, Provençal culinary art, and the artistic legacy left by figures like Van Gogh. Whether you’re on a road trip or planning a dedicated day trip to Avignon, Avignon stands as a jewel in the crown of Provence, waiting to unfold its stories.

Best Things to Do in Avignon France

What should you see in a day in Avignon? This is a list of the top activities in Avignon, France. I advise arriving in Avignon the night before for this one-day itinerary in Avignon so you have a full day to explore the city.

PRO TIP: This well-reviewed Avignon walking tour with a knowledgeable guide includes admission to the Papal Palace as well as a guided tour.

Morning: The Palais des Papes and Avignon Cathedral

The morning sun casts a golden hue over Avignon, leading me first to the imposing Palais des Papes. This grand Gothic palace, once the seat of Western Christianity in the 14th century, is a labyrinth of history and art, with its majestic halls and intricate frescoes narrating stories of power and religion.

Just a short walk from this grandeur, I discover the Petit Palais. This museum, a former archbishop’s palace, is now home to an impressive collection of medieval paintings and sculptures, including notable Italian Renaissance works.

No visit to Avignon is complete without admiring the grandeur of the Palais des Papes.
Dominating the skyline, the Avignon Cathedral, with its golden statue of the Virgin Mary, is a stunning sight.

The tranquility within its walls contrasts with the grandiosity of the Palais des Papes, offering a more intimate glimpse into the artistic heritage of Avignon. Exploring its exhibits, I find myself captivated by the depth and detail of each piece, a testament to the city’s rich artistic past.

Concluding the morning’s historical journey, I visit the Avignon Cathedral, Notre-Dame des Doms. Its Romanesque architecture and serene ambiance, crowned by a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, provide a spiritual counterpoint to the morning’s explorations.

The cathedral, with its ornate chapels and the mausoleum of Pope John XXII, encapsulates the religious significance and architectural beauty of medieval Avignon.

Midday: Culinary Delights and Local Markets

As the morning gives way to midday, the scents and sounds of Avignon’s bustling markets begin to fill the air. I find myself drawn to the vibrant Les Halles market, a culinary heart of the city.

Here, local vendors proudly display an array of Provencal specialties: from ripe cheeses and olives to freshly baked fougasse. The atmosphere is a lively symphony of locals and visitors alike, all exploring the rich tapestry of flavors that define the region.

Dive into the vibrant market scene of Avignon, where you’ll find an array of spices, salts, and local delicacies.
Treat yourself to a delicious plate of traditional Provençal cuisine during your day in Avignon.
one day in avignon
Enhance your one-day Avignon experience with a glass of Côtes du Rhône.

Choosing a quaint bistro nearby for lunch, I delve into the local cuisine. A plate of daube provençale, a rich beef stew, accompanied by a glass of Côtes du Rhône, offers a true taste of Provence.

As I finish my meal, I’m ready to continue my journey through Avignon. The afternoon promises a blend of iconic landmarks and serene natural beauty, a perfect continuation of my one day in Avignon itinerary.

Afternoon: Pont Saint-Bénézet and the Rhône River

As the afternoon unfolds, my steps lead me to the remnants of the Pont Saint-Bénézet. This historic bridge, partially standing over the Rhône, is a monument to Avignon’s medieval past. Walking its surviving arches offers a picturesque view of the city, each step echoing with the legacy of its storied history.

From the bridge, I walk to the beautiful Jardin des Doms, a lush oasis perched high above the Rhône. Here, amidst the greenery and serene ponds, I find a perfect spot to sit and gaze out over the river.

one day in avignon
Take in the breathtaking views of the Rhône River and the city skyline from the famous Pont Saint-Bénézet.

The panoramic views from the garden are breathtaking – a sweeping views of Avignon and the Rhône, offering a moment of peaceful reflection away from the city’s bustling streets.

Later, a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Rhône completes my afternoon. The river, with its gentle flow and scenic beauty, provides a tranquil backdrop to Avignon’s vibrant cityscape.

Whether it’s watching boats glide by or simply enjoying the calm atmosphere, the Rhône’s presence adds a soothing touch to the Avignon experience, making it an integral part of any day tour itinerary.

Late Afternoon: Following Van Gogh’s Footsteps

As the day begins to mellow into the late afternoon, my journey takes a turn towards the artistic legacy of Vincent Van Gogh.

Although the artist spent a significant part of his life in various locations across France, it was in Provence where his art truly flourished. Avignon, with its radiant light and vivid landscapes, offers a glimpse into the world that inspired some of his most famous works.

one day in avignon
Café Van Gogh, inspired by Van Gogh’s famous painting, offers a delightful glimpse into the artist’s life and work.

I embark on a guided tour, specifically designed to explore Van Gogh’s influence in this region. Our first stop is at a local gallery showcasing replicas of his paintings, providing insights into how the Provencal landscape influenced his style and technique. The vivid colors and emotive strokes in his works seem to capture the very essence of Provence.

Next, we visit several spots around Avignon that are said to have inspired Van Gogh. Walking through these areas, it’s easy to imagine the artist setting up his easel, his eyes capturing the hues of the setting sun or the rustic charm of the old town.

The tour not only highlights Van Gogh’s artistic journey but also allows for a deeper appreciation of Avignon’s landscape and its role in art history.

Evening: Avignon by Night

As dusk falls over Avignon, the city takes on a new persona, illuminated by the warm glow of street lamps and the lively chatter of its inhabitants. The evening in Avignon is not just a time; it’s an experience.

I begin by indulging in the local culinary scene once more, this time at a charming restaurant known for its Provencal cuisine.

The menu is a delight, offering dishes that blend traditional flavors with modern culinary techniques. A glass of local wine complements my meal, enhancing the flavors and the ambiance of the evening.

one day in avignon
End your day in Avignon with a cozy dinner at one of the charming local restaurants.

After dinner, I stroll through the historic streets of Avignon. The night air is filled with the sounds of music and laughter, emanating from cozy cafes and vibrant bars.

As I walk back to my accommodation, the streets of Avignon, with their medieval architecture and modern vitality, offer a moment of reflection. The city, in just one day, has provided a journey through centuries of history, a palette of culinary delights, artistic inspiration, and a vibrant night culture.

Avignon, once the seat of popes, now stands as a beacon of French culture and history, deserving of its place on every traveler’s itinerary.

If you have a little more time…

Avignon, with its rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty, has much more to offer if you’re planning to extend your stay beyond a single day. For those who have the luxury of spending 2 days in Avignon or are looking for day trips from Avignon by car, here are some additional Avignon France tourist attractions:

  • Église Saint Symphorien: This often-overlooked church is a hidden gem located in the Les Angles area, just outside Avignon. Its humble exterior belies a richly decorated interior, boasting beautiful frescoes and a peaceful ambiance
  • Day Trip to Luberon: If you have a full day to spare, consider a Luberon day trip from Avignon. Known for its picturesque hilltop villages, lavender fields, and vineyards, Luberon encapsulates the essence of rural Provence.
  • Clos d’Avignon: Wine enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to visit Clos d’Avignon. Found in the outskirts of the city, this vineyard offers a chance to indulge in the region’s renowned wine culture. A tour of the vineyard provides insights into the wine-making process, followed by a tasting session where you can savor the unique flavors of Provencal wines

Where to Stay for One Day in Avignon?

If your French road trip includes a stop in Avignon, try to stay the night in order to have a full day to see the city. I advise staying central, close to the main attractions, while planning your schedule for Avignon.

Located in the heart of Avignon, Hôtel Central offers cozy, well-equipped rooms with a touch of Provencal charm. It’s an ideal choice for budget-conscious travelers who don’t want to compromise on location – you’re steps away from vibrant streets and historic landmarks.

The Novotel Avignon Centre, situated near the central train station, blends modern amenities with excellent service. With its spacious rooms, outdoor pool, and proximity to key attractions, it’s perfect for families or those looking for a bit more comfort during their Avignon adventure.

La Mirande exudes elegance and historical grandeur, offering an unforgettable luxury experience. Step into a world of refined decor, gourmet dining, and impeccable service, all set within a stunning 14th-century building that echoes Avignon’s rich past.

👉 Discover additional accommodation choices in Avignon by clicking here.

Final Thoughts on What to Do in Avignon in One Day

In just one day, Avignon revealed its historical majesty at the Palais des Papes and Avignon Cathedral, indulged my palate with Provençal culinary delights, and offered serene moments by the Rhône River. Following in Van Gogh’s footsteps added an artistic depth to my journey.

As night fell, the city’s vibrant culture shone through its lively streets and events. Avignon, more than a mere stop in France, is a rich tapestry of history, art, and life. This 1 day in Avignon wasn’t just a visit; it was an immersion into the heart of Provence, leaving lasting impressions and beckoning for a return.

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