In Avignon we almost spent a whole day. We arrived during the afternoon time on day 4 because we were looking for a place for a small afternoon siesta and had read that a little outside, on Île Piot, there was free parking. There certainly were loads of free parking spots, however were all of them right in the sun and no shades near.
We decided to continue driving and just across the bridge at a part of Avignon called île de la barthelasse were lucky enough to find an empty spot right next to a park with an amazing view of the city across the river. The rest of the day we put on relaxing mode; laid right by the river under some trees, walked around the park and took about a million pictures during the sunset glow that put a magical facade on the city skyline.
With our car right next to the river underneath some trees with a stunning view towards Avignon’s sights, we had found an incredible spot for the night!
Even if you don’t plan on spending the night in your car, I highly recommend parking your car across the river on the narrow island and walk into the city by feet as on the Avignon side it is crazy busy.
Avignon is also known as the city of the popes, as during the 14th century the seat of the Papal Power was not in Rome but in Avignon for 70 years.
The whole city is surrounded by an impressive wall.
At its very northern point there is the famous half bridge Pont d’avignon. There even is a song about this sight – I never knew, but my grandma used to sign this song all the time when I was little, and today I just made the connection 😉
A museum looking like building inside the wall is the only way to get access to the bridge that once lead across the whole river but nowadays only reaches halfway into the river. To enter, it costs 5€. However you are able to get a beautiful view at it for free by following the river east and jumping on a free ferry ride taking passengers across the river, or walking along the river westward across the bridge on the island.
Passing Pont d’Avignon, within only a few meters there is a tower in the wall that will take you up above the city wall and higher right into a park with an incredible 360 degree view.
It resides just above the huge and breath taking popes palace and from there probably got its name Rocher des Doms from.
Walking down the interlacing and very unique lane of the park, one walks right toward the cathedral Notre Dames with Maria as a golden statue on its roof. To enter the very light church it is completely free of charge.
However if you wish to take a look around the pope palace, Palais des Papes, just underneath, you need to pay a fee of 11€. During the days of august 12th and September 30th they each night at 10:15pm have a beautiful light show for 12€.
Southern of the park and the palace the actual pedestrian area begins. Restaurants after restaurants, tiny alleys, (souvenir) shops (that open around 10am), the town hall, hotels and a few other churches mark the actual city Centre.
Close to the other end at the very south a little park with cute flowers is the home to the tourist info.
It is nice walking though the tiny streets with the buildings so typical for France, however the real beautiful sights to visit in Avignon are the “Pont” as well as the park and the area around the palace of the popes.
Avignon has tons of history and stories to tell and definitely is a must visit if you are traveling around this area!