The old town of Avignon is a stunning backdrop against the blue skies of the Provence. With its medieval ramparts and towers that reach up and site enthroned over the city, it truly does feel as if you have stepped back in time. Bordered by the Rhône River to the north, it has some wonderful bridges, including the Pont d’Avignon, which was made famous in a song of the 15th century that is still sang in France today. From 1309 until 1377, it was home to seven of the Roman Catholic Popes who chose to reside here in their Papacy over Rome, and the architecture of the cathedrals and churches is some of the finest in the world. In 1995, the historic old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Location: Set in a beautiful area of the Provence
Less than one hour away from the French south coast, it is under 100 kilometres to both Marseille to the south-east and Montpellier to the south-west. Avignon does have its own small airport, but many people will choose to fly into Marseille and travel onwards via the A7 autoroute or by rail to the town.
Business: A guarantee of service and expertise
The International Congress Centre of Avignon is wonderfully set within the Palais des Papes, and offers 16 congress halls within the largest Gothic palace in Europe. It dominates the old town with its impressive towers and spires, and is within walking distance of many of the city's hotels. It can cater for up to 700 guests, and was the first conference centre in France to be awarded the AFAQ ISO 9001 Certification.
Culture: 800-year-old ramparts surround the old town
Follow the cultural routes through the old town along one of four walks that are indicated on the ground by discreet coloured markers. The walks take in the churches and cathedrals, the narrow cobbled streets, and stunning mansions and palaces, and feature details at historic spots on tourist signposts. The four walks to choose from are the ‘Joseph Vernet’, the ‘Teinturiers’, the ‘Carreterie’, and the ‘Doms’ walks, and more information on these can be found in the tourist booths of the city, or by a simple Internet search before you arrive.
Activities: Coincide your visit with the festival
If you can, try and visit when the annual Festival d’Avignon takes place in July. Since 1947, it has been welcoming visitors to watch a spectacle of contemporary art that includes venues for film, theatre, and music alongside street performers and musicians whose sole purpose is to entertain the public. Each year, the city welcomes over 500,000 visitors who come purely to be a part of one of France's largest and most famous events.