Avignon is a beautiful city in the Provence region of southeastern France. There are a lot of amazing things to do in Avignon. The city set on the Rhone River is home to well-preserved medieval architecture. The city is also a perfect base to explore the region of Provence. One can explore breathtaking landscapes and has charming medieval villages on day trips from Avignon. We choose Avignon as a base to explore the beguiling lavender fields around Provence. The tour also included a visit to the quaint villages of Gordes, Roussillon, and Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Make sure you include these wonderful places on your list when you are looking for memorable day trips from Avignon.
Where to Stay in Avignon
If you are planning to visit Avignon to explore the lavender fields of Provence or to explore the amazing places around Avignon you need to base yourself in Avignon. And Avignon has a great choice of apartments around the town center within 5 minutes walk from Papal Palace. Some highly recommended apartments with kitchenettes are Charme Au cœur D’Avignon, Nos Cachettes, Appartement Ferruce, and Studio Serenita.
Best Day Trips from Avignon
Gordes (~30 Minutes)
Gordes is a quaint village perched on the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse is listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France. It is located in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in southeastern France.Gordes is 30min drive from Avignon and about 2h40 from Paris by TGV.
The white stone houses and the winding cobblestone streets exude an otherworldly charm. The major attractions in Gordes are the 18th century Romanesque Saint-Firmin church, the imposing chateau which originally dates back to the 10th century and the cellars of the Saint Firmin Palace.
The charming village of Gordes is home to many artists including Victor Vasarely, André Lhote, Marc Chagall and Pol Mara.
One of the best things to do in Gordes is to just stroll around the cobbled streets winding through the houses with beautiful doorways and stone arcades. The other side offers the wonderful panorama of the Luberon valley. You can also stop by and enjoy a picnic at one of the many benches with a view.
Gordes hosts many amazing cultural events, exhibitions and concerts during the summer which is something not to miss if you are around.
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque(~30 Minutes)
About 10 minutes drive from Gordes is the stunning Abbey de Senanque. One can also trek from Gordes to Abbey de Senanque which is about 3.5 km. It dates back to the mid-1100s and was founded by Cistercian monks from the Ardeche region of France
The abbey was the first place where we caught a glimpse of lavender fields. Though the lavender fields weren’t in full bloom still it made for a postcard-perfect picture of the abbey with the purple fields. The best time for the perfect bloom is in July and August.
The Opening hours of the abbey are 10 AM to 5 PM. There are guided tours available only in French which last for an hour. The tours are available in other languages (English or Spanish) only for group reservations. The tours walk you through the history and architecture of the abbey.
Bories Village (~30 Minutes)
History buffs must not miss a visit to the village of Bories. It is located a couple of km from Gordes Village. The Bories Village is more of an open-air museum that consists of around 20 stone huts.
The historic Bories village provides an insight into the way of life in Provence from the Bronze Age to the present times. The stone huts built without the use of binding material, skillfully stacked and the corbel arched ceilings are no less an architectural masterpiece.
The stone houses in the Bories village have seven different groupings including houses, stables, barns, grain lofts, animal shelters and more. The inhabitants of the Bories Village were peasants, shepherds, and farmers and hence the exhibits mostly consist of the traditional tools. There is also a small museum which shows a documentary about the village.
You can easily club Gordes, Abbey de Senanque and Bories Village in a single day.
Roussillon (~1 Hour)
The beautiful village of Roussillon is a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France. It is located at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse in Luberon. The village of Roussillon is listed as one of the most beautiful towns in France by CNTraveler. Roussillon is about an hour’s drive from Avignon.
The houses and buildings of the village even the churches are painted in shades of ochre thanks to the rich deposit of ochre. Its a unique experience strolling the narrow alleys of the medieval village of Roussillon with brightly colored buildings. The deposits of ochre range from shades of red, orange and yellow and are found in the magnificent cliffs surrounding the village.
The visitors can explore the bright colored cliffs on several walking trails around the village. There are numerous information boards along the trails which provide information on the history and origin of Roussillon ochre. There are many restaurants in the village. There is also a big shop that sells a myriad of different shades of hues and shades if you want to take home a colorful souvenir.
Nimes (~1 Hour)
Nimes is a city in southern France rich in history and architecture from Roman times. The major attraction in Nimes is the well-preserved Arena of Nimes and the 2000-year-old Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct and the Roman temple Maison Carrée.
The Arena of Nîmes dating back to 70 A.D. is a double-tiered amphitheater that hosts concerts and bullfights even to this day. The Roman amphitheater though smaller than Colosseum in Rome is equally impressive with a spectators capacity of 24000.
The Roman temple of Maison Carrée is an exemplary of Vitruvian architecture with the giant columns in the portico, It is dedicated to Gaius and Lucius Caesar the two grandsons of Emperor Augustus.
Then there is Jardins de la Fontaine opened in 1745 which is decorated with balustrades, sculptures and Nimes Cathedral dating from the 1100s which are not to be missed too.
Arles (~1 Hour)
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France in the Bouches-du-Rhône department. Like Nimes, Arles is also home to some magnificent Roman remains. The Arles amphitheater modeled after Colosseum in Rome is the place where gladiators wars and chariot races were hosted. The arena hosts bullfights and concerts even to this day.
The 2000-year-old Arles’ theatre was once had an elaborate stage with over a hundred Corinthian columns, of which only two remain today. The theatre could seat up to 10,000 spectators.
The city of Arles was home to the famous painter Vincent van Gogh 1888. During this time he completed many of his masterpieces. A tour walks you through his time in the city exploring the places he captured in his paintings. An exhibition of his work is also part of the tour.
Place de la République is a popular square in Arles surrounded by important historic buildings including the Arles’ town, churches of Saint-Trophime and Sainte-Anne. At the center is the Roman obelisk founded in the 1300s.
St. Trophime Church is decorated with baroque paintings and nine Aubusson tapestries and the most captivating part of the cloister is the illustrations on the pillars in galleries.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (~1 hour)
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a small medieval village about an hour ride from Avignon. The village is home to not more than 500 habitats. The major attraction in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is the 300 m deep spring located at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains.
Visitors can walk to the spring along the river which looks emerald green because of the vegetation which grew underwater. On the way, one can see the ruins of the castle of the Bishop of Cavaillon perched high above on a cliff. The village is a great place to walk around explore the quaint houses. There are many small restaurants and souvenir shops.
Aigues-Mortes (~1 Hour)
Aigues-Mortes is a French commune in southern France that dates back to the 13th century and was built by Saint Louis. The city is surrounded by medieval city walls like Avignon. The fortified city is home to many historic sites and 1,634 meters of ramparts flanked by twenty towers. The 13th century Tower of Constance once used as prison is one of the four corner towers parts of the ramparts surrounding the city.
The main square of the city is Place Saint-Louis which has a fountain and the statue of Saint-Louis. The square is home to Aigues-Mortes Office de Tourisme, numerous shops, restaurants and the 13th-century Gothic-style Church of Notre-Dame-des-Sablons.
When to Visit Avignon
Avignon is a popular base for tourists looking to explore the lavender fields of Provence. The best time for the lavender fields to be in perfect bloom is in the month of July and August. The famous Festival d’Avignon is hosted in the month of July.
Avignon is popularly known as the city of festivals for it hosts many festivals. June to September is the best time to visit for dry and sunny weather if you are looking to explore the places around Avignon.
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