Inviting you to explore a historic city brimming with arts and architecture in the heart of France, each Avignon river cruise is an experience in and of itself. Steeped in history, the site of Avignon has been settled since the Neolithic period. It is located along the left bank of France's Rhône River, which made it an important trade port for France as well as a notable fixture of countless Rhône River cruises.
Explore History and Architecture in Avignon
Avignon is perhaps best known for being the seat of several popes during the Avignon Papacy of the Catholic Church. From 1309 to 1377, the ruling city of the church was changed from Rome to Avignon. Throughout its entire period of being a city, Avignon has attracted numerous interesting people, from artists to royalty. Many magnificent buildings and structures were built to house and attract these folks, which still exist today.
Upon nearing the city on the Rhône River, you'll see the Pont Saint Bénézet, a half-collapsed bridge from the Middle Ages. Prior to its collapse in the 17th century, it was part of a route meant to take travelers between Italy and Spain. Today, the bridge is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, much like several of the other architectural structures in Avignon. Other great buildings you'll see upon arriving to the city are the Palais des Papes ("Palace of the Popes" in English), where the Catholic popes resided many centuries ago, and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms, which dates all the way back to the 12th century.
Visiting the city of Avignon is essentially a masterclass in medieval architecture -- you'll be exposed to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites while getting to see the intricate details of each building up close. This also makes it a fantastic place for history lovers -- whether you prefer the Neolithic era, the ancient Romans, or the later Middle Ages, you'll find it in spades in Avignon.
Avignon Cruise Ships
Though Avignon offers plenty to entertain on its own with its culture, dining, and history, we believe it's best enjoyed from one of the many luxury French river cruise ships offered by Authentic Voyages. Each of our cruise lines has been thoroughly vetted and regularly evaluated to ensure we're only offering the best, most luxurious experiences in Europe. Our top three offerings -- Viking River Cruises, Scenic River Cruises, and Uniworld River Cruises -- each offer itineraries including Avignon aboard their world-class ships.
Top Attractions for Avignon River Cruises
Upon arriving in Avignon, its easy to become overwhelmed with all there is to do. The seemingly endless architecture, all the art galleries, and the museums found around nearly every corner ensure there's always something to explore, but it's not possible to visit everything when your cruise only visits for a day. Our team has personally researched and toured the city's many sites to find the best of the best when it comes to Avignon attractions. Below, we list the must-see attractions for when you only have a day with your Avignon cruise.
- Musée du Petit Palais. Located right next to the sprawling Palais des Papes, the UNESCO-designated Musée du Petit Palais provides a snapshot of the entire complex in one place. Prior to the finishing of the Palais des Papes, the Petit Palais was home to the pope. Today, it features a museum and art gallery with Renaissance-era paintings and a quaint café.
- Avignon Les Halles. This popular Avignon marketplace features nearly 50 stalls where you can pick out local delicacies. The city is also known for its impressive food scene, and this is the easiest way to sample a wide range of the cheeses and other foods. We highly recommend picking up a bottle of wine from the Côtes du Rhône AOC Wine Region, which Avignon is the official capital of.
- Rocher des Doms. Also found near the Palais des Papes, this beautiful park features tranquil gardens that look over the Rhône River. From your vantage point at the Rocher des Doms, you'll be able to see the Pont Saint Bénézet -- which is only a short walk away if you have extra time -- as well as the Palais de Papes.
Sailing from Avignon, France
When sailing to or from Avignon, France, you'll be cruising the magnificent Rhône River, which visits a number of other great cities in France and Switzerland. Most often upon leaving the city, you'll embark on an Avignon to Lyon river cruise, heading to the unofficial food capital of France. It's only a short ways down the river, providing another great stop on the Rhône. To learn more about these European river cruises and the great destinations the Rhône can take you, be sure to look at our Rhône River page below.