A view from a hill looking down to a river with a stone bridge that crosses three quarters the way across

How to See the Best of Avignon with a Two Day Winter Break

Sharing is caring!

Our two-day stay in Avignon just after New Year was one of the best times to visit Avignon. Having just experienced Christmas in France, Avignon was picturesque, especially at night with the Christmas lights and cooler temperatures.

With only 48 hours in Avignon, we would make the most of our visit.

We farewelled our house-sitting assignment in the village of Callas, where we looked after Bryn, the Border Collie, Maggie, and the cat. Yvonne drove us to Les Arcs TGV station for our 8 am train to Avignon.

We have discovered that house-sitting is one of the best ways to reduce your travel budget.

If you are interested in a 25% discount membership, Trusted Housesitters is our website for Europe.



TGV Nice to Avignon

Inside a modern train station
Avignon TGV Train Station

The train from Nice to Avignon takes you along the beautiful Riveria coastline before heading inland, arriving at Avignon TGV station. We then had to walk outside to find the regional train for Avignon, a 10-minute journey.

Where to stay in Avignon

We chose Hotel Kyriad, located in the centre of the old town, based on recent reviews.

The staff were great, and the room was large, warm and clean.

When choosing Accommodation, we have a few favourite sites.

Always a favourite is Booking.com.

Or Hotels.com, when your 10th night is booked, your next night is free based on your average stay rate. How cool is this?

When we are staying longer and need a kitchen, we use Airbnb. (For better discounts, book seven days or a month.)

A couple with a medieval town in the background
Maura and Terry with Avignon in the background

Weather in Avignon

The sun was shining with a bitterly cold wind. Are we back in Wellington, New Zealand?

The cold wind is the mistral “100-day” wind coming down the River Rhone to Avignon.  With the wind chill added to the current temperature, it was now  -2degC.

Quick, we need another layer of clothing.

Avignon has been a place of interest for Maura since French classes back at school, so we “braved” the cold temperatures and went out to explore.

Visit the local Tourist Office for the best things to see in Avignon.


Palace of the Popes

A view of the exterior walls of a medieval palace
Palace of the Popes, Avignon

Our first place of interest was a visit to the Palace of the Popes.

Wow. What a magnificent building. The Palace dates back to Sovereign Pontiffs in the 14th century when Pope Clement V moved the Papacy from Rome to France due to unrest.

The Palace is two palaces joined together. When the Papacy returned to Rome in the late 14th century, the Military Garrison used the Palace. Unfortunately, they let it fall into disrepair, and it was only restored in the 1900s.

The €12 entrance fee includes the Pont Saint-Benezet, which allows you to explore both the upper and lower levels of the Palace.

Inside the courtyard of a medieval castle
Courtyard inside the Palace of the Popes

We aimed to walk along the outside parapet for views across the river.

We missed the stairs the first time and the second time around before finding the closed Terrace cafe was the key to our goal.

We were rewarded with a great view across Villeneuve Les Avignon over the Rhone River.

A landscape view with a tree and bush in the foreground, a river in the midground and a fort on a hill in the background
Looking across the Rhone River to Fort Saint-André

Rocher des Doms Park

Looking into a valley with a cathedral town and a fort on the hill
Villeneuve Les Avignon from Rocher des Dom Park

A walk up to the Rocher des Doms Park was next for a view of the famous bridge Pont d’Avignon and Villeneuve Les Avignon across the Rhone River.

With the wind freezing our teeth, we decided not to stay long and headed back down the hill.

Pont d’Avignon

We walked down the hill from the Rocher des Doms Park to Pont Saint-Benezet, Pont d’Avignon, built 1177-1185.

A medieval stone bridge that only reaches part way across a river
Pont d’Avignon

The bridge we discovered was destroyed and rebuilt several times due to flooding. It was finally abandoned in the 1700s, leaving four arches intact.

Remembering French class – let’s sing

A printed copy of the words to the French song about the Avignon Bridge
The words to the song about the Avignon Bridge

Avignon Trading Route

The Rhone River was a major trade route in medieval times, with tolls along the banks controlling the access.

From the Pont d’Avignon, we could view the wall surrounding Avignon, still intact today, giving access to the old town through at least 14 portals.


Shopping in Avignon

The area in and around the Hotel Kyriad had a pedestrian area of shops amongst old streets, buildings, and churches.

So, finding the local bakery and patisserie for croissants is always a great experience.

A view down a pedestrian shopping street
Shopping in pedestrian-friendly Avignon

Avignon at Night

The evening was spectacular in Avignon, with Christmas lights flooding the square.

A lit Christmas tree with a town hall in the town square
Christmas lights of Avignon, France

Although bitterly cold, we returned to the Palace of the Popes and Pont d’Avignon for some nighttime views.

A stone palace lit up at night
Palace of the Popes, Avignon
A stone bridge lit up a t night
Pont d’Avignon at night

Where to Eat Breakfast and Lunch in Avignon

Finding breakfast was always fun as we wandered streets away from the main square to find a good deal.

Rossini was a small cafe where three lovely French people with Italian and Spanish origins made us feel welcome.

We ordered Noisette Cafe (coffee with a little milk) and a tasty sandwich before the discussion turned to rugby. Avignon has a strong rugby culture, and knowledge of the All Blacks (New Zealand), Sevens rugby and Rugby greats who are now playing in France came up in our discussion.

We made Rossini our local for our 48 hours in Avignon. It is located at 4 Rue Félix Gras.

Tables and chairs set up outside a small cafe
Rossini Cafe, our local

Villeneuve Les Avignon

Villeneuve Les Avignon is situated across the Rhone River from Avignon and is known as the City of Cardinals.

The old town built between the Philippe Bell Tower and Fort Saint-Andre is imposing.

A large fort on top of a hill
Fort Saint-Andre, Avignon

Old Town of Villeneuve Les Avignon

Our walk over the river from Avignon took about 20 minutes. We stopped on one of the two bridges to take photos.

We made our way up past the Philippe Bell Tower, built to control access to the Avignon Bridge. A little further, we were at the entrance of Park Colline des Mourgues, finding an old chapel and views across to Fort Saint-Andre.

Villeneuve Les Avignon is a beautiful and quiet old town. We took a peek into the Gothic Notre Dame Collegiate Church and Cloister dating back to the 14th century on our way through narrow streets and shops before finding the road to Fort Saint-Andre.

A man walking up the steps of an old building
Terry checking out the locals in Villeneuve Les Avignon

Fort Saint-Andre

Fort Saint Andre is a 5-minute walk uphill from the old town dating back to 1292. Philippe Le Bel, King of France, commissioned the Fort to affirm the royal power in Avignon at the time, particularly towards the Popes.

Entering between the Twin Towers, the outer fortified walls once protected the Benedictine Abbey within and the small village.

A large entrance into a huge stone fortress
The imposing entrance to Fort Saint Andre

We visited the staff at Rossini’s for lunch of soup and sandwiches to warm ourselves. After saying our goodbyes, we collected our bags for our next destination. The TGV Avignon to Lyon.

One comment

  1. Terry&Maura says:

    Hi Melody, Thanks for that. Yes Avignon was beautiful, we would love to be there in the spring as the flowers would make it stunning. Even so we really enjoyed the buildings and the history – this whole region is absolutely amazing. regards T&M

Comments are closed.