Where to stay: I’ve never personally stayed overnight in Avignon because it’s so easy to travel to for a day trip, but Hostelworld.com does show a bunch of inexpensive options in the city. My recommendation, wherever you choose to book, would be to stay as close to the center of the city as possible, because that’s where everything is! Avignon is a walled city, so most of what there is to see and do is contained within the city walls.
Where to eat: There are a couple really great restaurants right in the main square of Avignon. In the warmer seasons, this is a great place to sit outside and enjoy a long meal, or just a glass of wine. All of the restaurants in this area have extensive outdoor seating, and it’s customary in France to have outdoor heaters on in the colder months, so it’s the perfect place to see and watch Provençal life go by!
What to do: The big attraction in Avignon is the Palais de Papes, the former residence of the Pope. At one time, the papacy was separated, one pope was in Vatican and the other was in Avignon. Le Palais de Papes was built in Avignon, and it’s a really great thing to tour! There is also a famous bridge in Avignon (Pont d’Avignon or Pont Saint Bénézet), which is a beautiful example of medieval architecture. The bridge only goes halfway across the river, but you can walk across the part that’s there! I chose not to because you need to buy a ticket to do so, but I instead bought myself some fresh fruit and a baguette (and some wine), and had a picnic lunch with my friends along the banks of the river just next to the bridge. It was the most perfect spot to enjoy the beautiful Provençal sun, and watch all of the boaters in the river. There are boats for hire along the river, so that would be a great option if you have a nice day! Avignon also advertises ways to see the fields of lavender that Provence is so famous for, and I highly recommend you find a way to see them. Standing before rolling hills of beautiful lavender is one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve been lucky enough to experience- it certainly is a highlight of Provence.
Overall Opinion: I truly enjoyed visiting Avignon, and I hope that I get the opportunity to go back and explore it some more! Avignon is different than Aix-en-Provence in that it’s much smaller and quieter, but it still has a distinct life of its own. Much of the architecture in Avignon is different than other architecture found in different towns in Provence, which makes it a great place to walk around and get lost. If you’re there to see the “sights”, you probably won’t need much more than a day or two to see everything, but give Avignon the time it deserves. Embrace the slow, Provençal pace of life, and enjoy the beautiful sunshine with a glass (or bottle!) of rosé wine- you won’t regret it!