Avignon, France - Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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The best time to go depends on what you want to do, the annual Theatre Festival means the city is heaving in July, however you attend one of the many performances. A trip in the Spring or Autumn is much better if you prefer it a bit less crowded and it is much better for sightseeing.
If you travel by train from London to Avignon then this requires a change in Lille or Paris. The exception to this is in summer when there’s a weekly direct service. However, as I have already said it’s a fast journey of around 5. 5 hours. Returns cost from £130. A few airlines fly direct from the UK to Avignon Caumont Airport which is 8km away; Flybe has a once-weekly service from Birmingham and Southampton.
Old Avignon is walkable. Buses run from outside the city walls to the TGV train station (3km) and Villeneuve-lès Avignon (3km). There’s a free, but seasonal, ferry across the river, from near the Pont d’Avignon, to Barthelasse Island.
There are many different places to stay and local companies can offer a range of local apartments from £25pn per night. The Hôtel de Garlande is a charming small mid-range hotel with doubles around £75. If you want something classier then try the Hôtel d’Europe (with doubles from £200 per night.
Looking for food on your first day then grab a tartine, which is an open sandwich, at Ginette & Marcel. In the evening you can eat excellent French dishes at Fou de Fafa or Le Barrio.
On your first full day take time to stroll around old Avignon. The prime pleasure of the walled medieval city is getting lost down its backstreets. However, the tourist office has helpful walking tour maps for those that want to know where they are. The canal lined Rue des Teinturies and Rue Peyrollerie which is squeezed under the Palais des Papes, are just two worth finding.
If you want fresh snacks for your walking then stop at Les Halles, which is open Tues-Sun, from 6 am. The main market hall, which has a living, the plant-draped facade has an interior packed with fresh produce that can tempt any palette.
The priority of the day is to acquire a free Avignon Pass from the tourist office or a participating venue. This will let you pay full price to enter your first museum, then get up to 50% of every subsequent entrance fee. The best advice I can now give is to visit the Musée Lapidaire first. This is a repository of local archaeological finds and is housed in a 17th-century Jesuit college. The good news is that it only costs €3 to enter and is the cheapest place in town to pay the full price. Other museums worth a look include the Calvert and the small but atmospheric Louis Vouland.
However, the main draw is the domineering 14th-century Palais des Papes, full price entry is €11. This enormous Gothic palace was once the seat of the Catholic Church and is suitably grand. An audio guide explains the stories behind the frescoed chambers and vaulted chapels.
After the palace, walk up nearby Rocher des Doms, this lofty park has fine views over the river. Then drop down to Rue des Escaliers Sainte-Anne for a drink at Utopia-La Manutention, a hip cinema-bar-restaurant just outside the palace walls.
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