Graceful Avignon seems best known for two things: the nursery rhyme about the bridge; and the fact that for a 68 year period in the 14th Century, Avignon was the home of the papacy. During this time Avignon became the centre of the western world. Our selection of the best places to stay in Avignon vary from properties in the centre of town to more rural affairs just outside, all of which are well placed to explore this fascinating region.
The Popes thought the centre of the western world should look regal and wealthy. So they spent a lot of money constructing grand palaces - none grander than the Palais des Papes - and commissioning magnificent artworks. And these treasures are one of the things which make Avignon such a wonderful place to see. The performing arts festival in July is another big draw. And of course the half crumbled medieval bridge spanning half the Rhone.
Even if religious architecture isn't your thing, you can't visit Avignon without seeing the Palais des Popes. This is one of the largest medieval Gothic buildings in the world and the scale and grandeur of the thing will leave you dumbfounded. You may also be surprised by the palace's fortifications. The walls are three metres thick and portcullises and watchtowers are integral to the design. Proving how concerned the Popes were about security, even this far from Rome.
Before the Palais was completed the Popes lived in the bishop's palace, which was given a regal refit when the papal throne was moved here in 1309. Today the palace is a museum, where some of the great art treasures commissioned by the church during Avignon's reign are housed. The collection is outstanding, featuring religious works from the 13th to 16th Centuries, including Botticelli's Virgin and Child.
As well as their own grand dwellings, the church leaders invested in the city. Narrow alleys open onto expansive squares and there are many charming plazas. Much of the centre of town is pedestrianised and there are cafe and restaurants in the squares, and boutique shopping in the lovely old buildings. Some of the best places to stay in Avignon are along these central streets.
It's also worth taking a spin on the Rhone while you're here.
If you take a day trip to Orange you'll also be able to visit its Roman amphitheatre, which is remarkably well preserved. Nearby is one of the best examples of a provincial triumphal arch. Decorating its pillars are reliefs commemorating the Pax Romana.
Don't forget that it's a very popular spot during the peak summer months, so the best places to stay in Avignon will inevitably get booked up. But if you're organised and plan ahead you can still reserve a top spot, or alternatively visit in the quieter months, when you can really appreciate Avignon without the crowds.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Avignon, or call, or email, one of our gurus for advice. Want to widen your search? Take a look at all our recommendations in Provence.
Elegant 19th century Provençal building on the main square in Avignon. Charming accommodation with great views of the picturesque town centre. Wood, wrought iron, sea grass and wicker combine to create comfortable chic rooms with a lovely relaxed ambiance.
A delightful hotel set in a stunning 16th century house. L'Atelier fuses its rustic design with contemporary furnishings to produce comfortable, attractive rooms. After a day's exploring Avignon's papal history, relax in the garden with a glass of wine or take in city views from the roof terrace.
Avignon (Ile de la Barthelasse)
A warm and welcoming family-run guesthouse on Il de la Barthelasse, the largest island on a French river, and a rural oasis of beauty and serenity. Inside the rooms are charmingly decorated, spacious, & comfortable and outside it boasts a wonderful 4 acres of garden with an orchard & a swimming pool
A beautiful 16th century residence just two steps from the romantic Pont Saint-Bénézet and 50 metres from the historic Pope's palace. The rooms are simultaneously stylish, elegant and cosy. Enjoy the atmospheric stone walls and a private terrace or patio and even your own fountain!
Stunning hotel set in historic cloisters in the heart of Avignon, just minutes from the Palais des Papes. Come for simple modern elegance complemented by the 16th century historic backdrop of the hotel. Relax by the rooftop pool on the sun terrace, or try some delicious food in the restaurant.
Domaine de Rhodes is situated in a leafy idyll near the beautiful city of Avignon. The pretty bedrooms encapsulate the charm of Provence. A lovely garden and swimming pool offers guests the opportunity to fully unwind and relax. This bed and breakfast offers both quality and beauty in abundance.
Small intimate B&B in the centre of Avignon, just 10 minutes walk from the main sights. The three bedrooms are spacious with original painted floors, Perisan rugs, and one-off pieces of furniture. There's even a pretty terrace for sitting out. A charming spot for exploring this historic town.
Chic B&B in the city. Bedrooms have large white bathrooms, pale wood floors, exposed brick walls and garden views. Charming garden, outdoor pool and sun terrace. Conservatory serves breakfasts. A romantic stay with excellent staff.
Just 7km from Avignon centre, Le Mas de Capelou offers five rooms and suites plus four apartments which sleep from 2 to 6. A period exterior makes way to modern, chic interiors. There's a large outdoor swimming pool and many peaceful outdoor seating areas. A quiet countryside spot.
Saint-Laurent-Des- Arbres, Provence
Fantastic country house with a very relaxed atmosphere. Walled gardens, sunny swimming pool, shady terraces, and contemporary chic rooms. A real home from home, if home were in the South of France.
Simple B&B in the centre of Avignon with views of Palais des Papes. Stylish bedrooms offer a chic blend of contemporary and antique with original parquet floors and fireplaces alongside furniture and lighting by Starck. There's a pleasant sun terrace and an unbeatable location for exploring the city
Avignon (Le pontet)
A charming hotel in a typical Provencal house. Elegant rooms feature floral prints, soft colours and all the mod cons. An outdoor pool, fragrant gardens, and an extensive spa. Outstanding gourmet cuisine and a lovely bar area. Close to Avignon, ideal for a relaxing weekend of culinary treats.
Beautifully renovated mansion surrounded by rose gardens in a charming medieval village. Cool, contemporary rooms with beamed ceilings, white washed walls and enormous sash windows. Excellent cuisine served on a charming patio. A lovely base to come and completely unwind.
Villeneuve lez Avignon
A wonderful blend of historic and contemporary. The 14th century ivy clad former monastery was renovated in 2007 creating rooms with character and unpretentious luxury. Relax by the pool, break a sweat on the tennis court, and visit the Michelin starred restaurant in the stunning gardens.
Grand old hotel tucked away in a serene square in the heart of Avignon. Rooms are furnished traditionally and elegantly, fit for a king of bygone days, but with all the modern touches expected in the 21st century. La Vieille Fontaine, with its Michelin star, adds to the regal appeal.
An immaculately decorated and furnished former Cardinal's mansion in the city center. The suites will transport you back to another time with parquet floors, bold wallpapers, and sumptuous beds. Sit out in the sculpture filled courtyard enjoying the Michelin-starred cuisine. Chic and sophisticated.