Located along the west bank of the Rhône River in southeastern France, Avignon is a relatively small town that was once one of the continent’s centers of Catholicism. As such, it was chosen as the home of Pope Clement V in the early part of the 14th century.
The region is particularly well-known for its scenic lavender fields, abundant natural beauty, and a wine industry that’s among the country’s most celebrated.
The old portion of the city center is characterized by narrow streets, quaint cafes full of old-world charm, and impressive ramparts left over from the medieval-era.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Avignon and the surrounding countryside.
1. 3-Hour Walking Tour with Wine Tasting
It’s been proven in high-dollar laboratories in far-flung corners of the globe that three hours is the optimum time for tours that include walking and drinking.
This short but value-packed tour of Avignon is an excellent option for visitors working with limited time, as it gives guests a surprisingly thorough overview of what makes the town so special.
You’ll learn about how Avignon was the center of the papacy in the 14th century, and how it’s always been known for natural beauty, wine, and architecture.
Tours include an English-speaking guide, tickets to the Pope’s palace, and wine tasting in a local restaurant.
2. Full-Day Roman and Medieval Heritage Tour
The village of Les Baux de Provence is widely accepted as one of the most beautiful and historic villages in all of France.
Characterized by a massive stone fortress, it’s one of the region’s most popular attractions and is easily accessible by a full-day tour from Avignon.
Guests will learn about the village’s history that pre-dates the Roman-era, as well as exploring its food, culture, history, and economy.
The tour includes olive oil and wine tastings, as well as stops at vineyards, the Alpilles Mountains, and the city of Nîmes before returning to Avignon.
Tours last between 9 ½ and 10 hours and involve walking, so wear comfortable shoes and pack clothes for a variety of weather conditions.
3. Wine Education with Picnic Lunch at Private Chateau
Did you know that true wine experts and aficionados use all five senses to enjoy the grape-based intoxicant to its fullest?
If that seems odd, fear not; on this wine education tour, you’ll learn how to do just that.
Tours include stops at two wineries in the Alpes Côte d’Azur region, where a wide spectrum of award-winning wines are produced.
Guests will learn about wine, tour the facilities, sample reds, whites, and rosés at a private chateau, and enjoy a delectable picnic-style lunch along with their guide and hosts.
Round-trip transportation to and from your Avignon hotel via air-conditioned minibus are included as well.
4. Full-Day Lavender Tour
The lavender fields in and around Avignon are generally at the height of their bloom between mid-June and mid-July.
For visitors who’ll be in the area then, experiencing the fields often ends up being one of the most memorable experiences of their trips.
The color is nothing short of spectacular, and the aromas carried by the wind can be downright intoxicating.
The village of Sault is the region’s lavender epicenter. Before heading off to other attractions, guests will have time to take in the amazing sights.
Tours also stop at a museum dedicated to lavender, village markets, and towering cliffs of red ochre.
5. 5-Hour Olive and Wine in Les Baux-de-Provence
Though France is more acclaimed for its wines, it’s also an important olive growing region that has been churning out some of the world’s best olive oils for centuries.
Les Baux-de-Provence is just a short drive from Avignon. It is known for both wine and olive oil, making it a great day-trip option for those interested in a culinary-based jaunt into the countryside.
The 5-hour tour includes stops in multiple towns, wine and olive oil tastings, and historical and cultural narration from the guide along the way.
Hotel pickup and drop-off and all entrance fees are included.
6. Châteauneuf du Pape Wine Tour
Avignon and the surrounding areas tend to draw tourists interested in food and wine, medieval history, and art.
Thankfully for visitors with a wide range of interests, many tours like this one include aspects of all three.
Nearby Provence is situated between the Alpilles Mountains and the Rhône River. It is brimming with quaint charm, pastoral scenes, and lots of great food and drinks.
This tour focuses on the vineyards at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which are most well-known for their robust reds.
Guests will drive through the vineyards, learn about the region’s winemaking traditions, and see the ruins of the Pope’s summer home.
7. Private Walking Tour of Avignon
Avignon is among France’s most charming towns, and though this two-hour tour is on the short side, it packs a lot of value for those working with limited time and budgets.
Along with their guide, guests will walk amongst some of the city’s most prominent attractions, including the Palace of the Popes and the impressive Pont St. Bénezet Bridge.
The area is full of medieval walls, monuments to prominent historical figures, and tree-lined streets brimming with quaint cafés, shops, and galleries.
While en route, tour participants will learn about the Avignon’s central role in Christianity dating back to the 14th century, while discovering things they may want to explore on their own when the tour is over.
8. Magic Luberon Private Tour
From provincial markets and historic abbeys to stunning lavender fields and villages from the medieval-era, Avignon and the surrounding areas are truly diverse and spectacular.
This nine-hour tour is a bit on the long side, but for visitors with an entire day to spare, it’s a great value.
From downtown Avignon, guests will set out with their guide on the quintessential provincial experience.
Tour highlights include the Fontaine de Vaucluse, the Sénanque Abbey from the 12th century, the historic village of Roussillon, and the amazing lavender fields spread across a nearby plateau.
Lunch is available at midday but isn’t included in the tour’s cost.
9. Private Guided Bike Tour of St. Remy from Avignon
Bicycles are great ways to experience the wonders of Avignon. For fit and activity- minded travelers, bike tours are often one of the most memorable experiences of their time in town.
In addition to burning calories and breathing tons of clean country air, guests will benefit from the knowledge of their local guide, who will impart snippets of local history that those on larger, more impersonal tours might miss.
Tour stops include St. Remy’s mid-week market, the Monastery of Saint Michel de Frigolet, and a number of fantastic landscapes that provided artistic inspiration to Vincent Van Gogh during the late years of his life.
10. Half-Day Alpilles Terroir and Heritage Tour
With such an abundance and variety of significant sites within just a few miles of Avignon, it’d be a shame not to get out into the countryside and experience them for a full or half-day.
This half-day tour option is packed with attractions, including the Alpilles in Baux-de-Provence National Park, the historic town of St-Rémy-de-Provence, and the Alpilles Nature Preserve.
Tours last about five hours and include significant amounts of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers as the weather can change quickly.
Tours include round-trip transportation to and from a central Avignon location in an air-conditioned bus.
11. Luberon Villages and Market Tour
Few places on earth meld the historical, culinary, and cultural as do cities like Avignon.
Though the Luberon Villages are technically outside city limits, they’re close enough to make day-trips convenient.
This Luberon combo tour is a great option for those who prefer to explore attractions that are slightly off the beaten path.
The tour’s market portion gives visitors the opportunity to rub elbows with locals and experience village life as the townspeople do.
Tours are particularly stunning in the spring when wildflowers and poppies are in bloom. The village of Roussillon that sits atop hills of vibrant ochre is another perennial favorite.
12. Treasures of Provence Full-Day Tour
Walking in Van Gogh’s footsteps is an especially popular activity for art lovers and amateur historians who find themselves in Avignon with free time to kill.
On this full-day tour, guests will experience much of what makes the area so unique, charming, and historic.
In addition to seeing sights that inspired Van Gogh, tour participants will explore Roman-era monuments, witness the spectacular Salvador Dali light show at the Carrières de Lumières, wet their collective whistles at two wine tastings, stroll among the vineyards at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and visit the picturesque village of Baux de Provence perched on a rocky bluff amid the Alpilles Mountains.
13. Jewish Heritage in Provence 8-Hour Tour
Jewish communities have been present in and around Marseille and Avignon since well before the Roman era.
This 8-hour tour begins in Marseille and explores villages, cemeteries, and synagogues in Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Cavaillon, and Carpentras.
Guests meet their guide at a central Avignon location before setting out on this value-packed tour that includes aspects of history, culture, religion, and science, as well as the mystical and philosophical sides of the Jewish faith.
Tours tend to attract Jews from all over the world. Due to the relatively small size, guests enjoy more personalized service that makes them truly unique and memorable activities.
14. Walking Tour with Skip-the-Line Ticket to the Pope’s Palace
Over the centuries, Popes have made it a priority to ensconce themselves in the lap of luxury. For those who want to get a quick glimpse into the good life in years past, this walking tour with a skip-the-line ticket to the Pope’s Palace would be a wise way to spend a few hours.
The palace was incredibly opulent by the standards of the day and is filled with historically significant religious icons and works of art as well.
Guests will also have the opportunity to wander narrow medieval streets, listen to their guide’s narration, and peer down at the Rhône River from the town’s ancient fortified walls.
15. Cooking Workshop with Master Chef
This three-hour cooking class begins at 9:00 am when participants meet their chef-instructor at the Halles d’Avignon Market.
Guests will get acquainted with their guide, learn about the region’s rich food history, and shop for ingredients that will be used later in the kitchen classroom.
For those who aren’t particularly at home in the kitchen, this activity is great: unlike traditional cooking classes, it allows tour guests to get involved in the process from beginning to end without actually doing the cooking.
Instead, you’ll have the chance to watch your instructor, learn about the techniques he’s using, ask questions, and sample the final product.