The second stop on our France trip was Avignon, France (see our first stop in Lyon here).
We took the train from Lyon to Avignon, which was less than a two hour ride. Luke loved it because we were on a train. I loved it because I got to soak in the French countryside. Charlie loved it because he was able to drink beer on it. A total win!
Like Lyon, we didn’t know what to expect in Avignon except what we read in the Rick Steves’ Provence Travel Guide book. We’ve used Rick Steves’ books for other European travels so we thought this book was a trusted advisor. Rick Steves recommended that we use Avignon as our home base to explore the Cotes du Rhone and Provence regions.
Avignon is a very historic city and you can read more about it here or in the Rick Steves guide book. It felt that we stepped back in time since we were inside a fortress. We stayed in Avignon for four days but spent only about a day exploring as we used the other days to explore the Cote du Rhone and the towns in the Provence region. For the time we did stay in the city, I wanted to share some highlights of Avignon.
Avignon TGV Station
I was blown away when we arrived at the Gare d’Avignon TGV station. The architecture was modern and the natural lighting was a photographer’s dream! If you happen to pass by Avignon, I highly recommend this train station. We spent about 30 mins watching Luke push his cars down the ramp, in addition to taking lots of pictures.
There are plenty of rental car companies located right outside the station. Charlie was in charge of booking our car rental, which was from Europcar. We decided to add the GPS feature at the last minute. I’m glad we did because I’m not good at reading maps.
Our Airbnb with Week Where
For our lodging in Avignon, we took a chance and rented an Airbnb for the first time. My friends have all had positive experiences with Airbnb so I figured, why not? My only requirement was that it wasn’t someone’s home. I preferred it to be strictly a rental unit. So I searched the Airbnb website and found this rental. The price was what caught my eye (and the location). The rental unit was very close to the Hotel D’Europe, which was a 5 star hotel. If anything went wrong, at least we had a hotel nearby to check into. So I closed my eyes, booked it, and hoped for the best.
It was tricky walking up two flights of steep stairs to the unit but once we opened the door to the unit, we saw all the natural sunlight and smelled the scent of lavender. We were home (well, temporarily). Luke loved it and kept on calling it our new house. The unit had free wifi, a bedroom, sofa bed, and a kitchen. The space was big enough for all three of us to do our own thing. We parked our rental car just outside the “fortress,” which was about a 5 minute walk and for only 3 Euros/day. Such a deal!
The property manager’s (Week Where) office was located right across the street from our Airbnb unit. So it was nice and convenient to be able to talk to them in person if we had any issues, but we didn’t. We kind of used them as guides to the city…they helped me find the Salon Arlette door (see first pic). We will definitely use them again or one of their other properties on our next visit to France.
Charming Streets Perfect for Walking and Exploring
We spent an afternoon exploring Avignon. I loved that there were so many pedestrian-only streets and squares. For kid-friendly things, we took Luke on the 45 minute train tour of the city and let him ride the carousel. But he mostly wanted to run around so the pedestrian streets were perfect. We decided not to do the Palais des Papes tour since we knew Luke would not stay still or would get bored. I’m not sure if we missed out on anything. Per Rick Steves, it wasn’t a must see. So instead, we decided to wander the city. I fell in love with the city’s charm and rustic feel. There were so many details in this city to capture.
We stumbled on this building covered with moss or plants and it just so happened there was a floral shop below it. So perfect.
I have this thing with anything red. I thought this restaurant’s exterior was so French yet so charming.
We walked by the “moules” set up outside a restaurant which looked so effortless. Oh the French can make anything look so cute and photogenic. And did you notice the sign to the left that says cafe and croissant for 2 Euros? What a deal!
Near the Palais des Popes, there are some streets that are pedestrian only but look like they were carved out from big rocks. It felt like we were in a maze. Luke took the opportunity to run around with his arms in the air. And then of course…we found the town’s carousel.