Luxury holidays in Avignon

The gothic city of Avignon in picturesque Provence was famous back in the 14th century as the seat of Christianity: swing by the Unesco-protected Palais des Papes to get an idea of just how many square feet of castle it takes to run Christendom (answer: lots). Though the papal palace is mostly empty now, there’s still plenty to do within the town’s mediaeval walls: find Les Halles, the platonic ideal of a French food market; see what’s left of the Pont Saint-Bénézet, the bridge over the Rhône river that was memorialised in the schoolboy-French song; and visit the gorgeous gardens at Le Rocher des Doms for panoramic views.

When to go

Thespians and amateur dramatists should visit in July, when the annual theatre festival takes place. There are hundreds of plays staged all over town (even inside the Palais des Papes), plus a fringe festival called ‘Le Off’.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Marseille’s international airport is the best served. From there, it’s an hour-and-20-minute drive to Avignon.
  • Trains

    Avignon has a TGV station, meaning it’s speedily linked to other French cities – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Lille and the like – as well as London, courtesy of the Eurostar.
  • Automobiles

    Within Avignon’s city walls, most places are reachable on foot, but if you want to cruise by lavender fields and vineyards, a set of wheels will be handy.