Capital of the Catholic Church during the early Middle Ages and for centuries a major artistic centre, Avignon remains an unmissable destination. During the Festival d’Avignon in July, it becomes the place to be in Provence.

Low medieval walls still encircle Avignon’s old centre, as it nestles up against a ninety-degree bend in the Rhône river. Their gates and towers restored, the ramparts dramatically mark the historic core off from the formless sprawl of the modern city beyond. Despite their menacing crenellations, however, they were never a formidable defence. The major monuments occupy a compact quarter up against the river, just beyond the principal place de l’Horloge, at the northern end of rue de la République, the chief axis of the old town.

Avignon can be dauntingly crowded, and stiflingly hot, in summer. But it’s worth persevering, not simply for the colossal Palais des Papes, home to the medieval popes, and its fine crop of museums and ancient churches, but also the sheer life and energy that throbs through its lanes and alleyways.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The world's quirkiest food festivals

The world's quirkiest food festivals

Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric cele…

22 Dec 2017 • Lucy Cowie insert_drive_file Article
Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Though they may be sniffed at by "real" cylists, e-bikes are opening up serious mountain routes to the more casual pedaller. Andy Turner dons some lycra to find…

27 Oct 2017 • Andy Turner local_activity Special feature
20 seriously weird places around the world

20 seriously weird places around the world

The world is a weird (and wonderful) place. And from a rose-coloured lake to a Japanese island ruled by cats, we've got twenty pictures to prove it. 1. Spotted…

26 Jul 2017 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right