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Featured in: News & Reviews Pam Williamson, Provence Editor Published

24 Hours in Avignon

What to see & do on a quick trip through the city of the Popes

If you have one day to spend in this pretty city you'll see that, luckily, Avignon is a relatively small place to get around where travelling either on foot or bicycle is a pleasure and takes you quickly from one attraction to the next.

Then, what are the must-see, must-do things to plan into your day? This was my plan on a recent trip to the city of the Popes.

Morning coffee & a Provencal market

My day in Avignon began as all days should, with coffee and a croissant in front of the Marché les Halles d'Avignon. This wonderful daily market began in the early 19th century and has been steadily developing and growing since 1859. The first iron structure that housed the market was erected in 1864 but the final construction of the central market began in 1898. It suffered through the ages with the roof being completely redone in 1939 and bomb damage during WWII in 1945, which resulted in a rebuild in 1947. A further demolition project began in 1972 and the new halls were opened once more in April of 1974. Today you can get pretty much anything you may need or want in terms of food in this indoor market, from a full meal to the basics that make up the delicious Provencal cuisine. 

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Markets in Provence

24 Hours in Avignon in 2018

Hire a bicycle

Hiring a bike was very straightforward and a quick chat with the man in the rental shop confirmed that my vague plans for the day were in fact spot on: a cycle around the old town walls to the infamous Pont d'Avignon and a trip over to the Ile de la Barthelasse, the largest river island in Europe. If you have the time and the inclination then a cycle around the island is a great way to explore it and it offers up some perfect picnic spots. There are several restaurants to choose from here too but, if you have visited the local markets, then it seems a shame not to lay out those purchases and snack on the delicious local fruit and olives. Barthelasse itself is covered in orchards so you can be assured of fresh produce.

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24 Hours in Avignon in 2018

Walk across the Pont d'Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon has a fascinating history and a short walk to its end is a sobering reminder of the age of this bridge and the many phases of destruction and reconstruction that it went through. It was the inspiration for the 15th-century children's nursery rhyme 'Sur le Pont d'Avignon' which now has worldwide recognition. Construction was finally abandoned in the 17th century and only four arches remain today but you can imagine how it must have looked in its full glory. It also offers a great view back to Avignon and the old city wall.

Sights in Provence

24 Hours in Avignon in 2018

Wander the streets

In the heart of the city, you will find numerous shops, boutiques, art galleries and museums. Street artists offer up entertainment in the form of music, singing, magic, dance and, in some cases, you may need a double take to check if a statue is actually real. The narrow streets are a mish-mash of old and ancient architecture, Neoclassical façades mixed with restored or reconstructed buildings, all encircled by the ramparts, one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence.

Museums & Galleries in Provence

24 Hours in Avignon in 2018

Visit the Palais des Papes

Winding your way through the streets you can't fail to notice the majestic Palais des Papes. A visit to Avignon is not complete without a visit to this building that dwarfs all others. Of course, this is one of the most prestigious venues during the world-famous arts festival, the Festival d'Avignon and seeing a show here is an incredible experience. Steeped in history and open daily, this is the must-see attraction in Avignon.

Churches & Cathedrals in Provence

24 Hours in Avignon in 2018

Dinner & a show

What better way to round off your day in Avignon than dinner and a show? Despite the fact that the city becomes an enormous stage during the summer, theatrical activity carries on all through the year. The opera house stages many performances of all different art forms, while a dozen permanent theatres offer their own creations. The choice of restaurants in Avignon is somewhat similar to the choice of theatrical production and ranges from the Michelin star fine dining to the quirky and downright bizarre, something to suit everyone's taste!

 

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Theatres in Provence

24 Hours in Avignon in 2018