Sunday, March 10, 2013

Avignon : How to get there and around ?

Nearest Airport  : Avignon-Caumont,  8km (5 miles) southeast of . 1-hour direct regular  flights
  from SOUTHAMPTON - LONDON CITY - BIRMINGHAM ; also connecting flights from
BELFAST - DUBLIN - EDIMBOURG - GLASGOW - GUERNSEY - JERSEY - NEWCASTLE. Taxis from the airport to the center cost around €15. But keep in mind that  Marseilles Airport is less than 80 Km away, and Nîmes-Garons about 60km, so think about it should you find interesting charter or low-cost flying options.

Train Stations : Chances are you will arrive from TGV train station (Gare TGV). The TGV ride from Paris takes about  2 hours 38 minutes. TGV trains also arrive daily from Koln, Brussels,  and several times a day to and from Marseille in the south, and Nice further east .The high-speed Eurostar train now makes the full journey from London's Waterloo Station to Avignon, but only on Saturdays in the late summer months. The trip makes only one stop (in Ashford, Kent) and takes six hours.
From the TGV station, a 10-minute shuttle bus (navette) takes you from the TGV station to Avignon's city center, alighting 4 minutes from rue Figuière, in front of the main post office. Cost is 1.50 euros only.  Take all your luggage with you, for there are no baggage checks in the TGV station or the central station.
All non-TGV trains arrive at the convenient central train station (Avignon Centre) 5 minutes from our place Trains from Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nimes are frequent, (hourly or so) ; from Arles, the trip takes 30 minutes and costs about €6.  Tickets must be bought  in the somewhat puzzling yellow vending machines, and then punched in the orange automats before boarding ( this is called "compostage").
Roads & parking lots
It's also easy to drive to Avignon : take the A6 motorway south to Lyons then the A7 south to Avignon, 2 hrs away ( exit 'Avignon nord', then take the nice road along the Rhone with the Pope's palace in sight) ; coming from Marseilles or Aix en Provence, choose exit 'Avignon south'.
But it's a bit more tricky to park there. Once you arrive in Avignon, follow the Centre-ville signs and park either near the city walls (parking de l'Oulle) or in the public parking structures inside the walls( Jean-Jaures, Les Halles, or Palais des Papes). Better yet, follow the red arrows on the above  city map, park as soon as you can either on rue Trois Faucons, place St Didier, Place Aubanel  ( you can type your car plate number in the meter, and collect a free 30mn voucher) and ask us for parking advice once  you finally arrive, on foot, rue Figuière. If you can't find a parking space, the quiet Figuière street itself is "semi pedestrian" : acces to cars is allowed for 30 mn in the morning only, althought  you can try your luck later in the day on the phone affixed on the gated entries  : offseason at least the gate operators are quite lenient. This is Provence, remember : people like to help and feel they are their own boss. Later, once settled in your flat,  you will be able to pick up your car and park it  for free extra-muros either in the Parking des Italiens or Ile Piot, and use the free bus shuttles.

Getting Around Avignon

Avignon center is still largely a medieval town : read a pedestrian heaven. (And a driver's hell). You will tour the city, shop, get out at night all on foot. The best place to rent a car in Avignon is probably the TGV train station. There are other car rental agencies near the central train station, but with shorter hours. You can reserve a rental car in advance with us ( a four door sedan, Peugeot 306) for about 20 euros per days, weekdays).
Note that a little tourist train leave regularly from the Palace of Popes about  twice and hour and does a 30-minute town tour with audio commentary for €6, it passes near our home and chugs up to the top of the Rocher des Doms park for a view above the river (€2).
To explore the area by bicycle, a good idea since Avignon is a fairly flat location, again ask us : we have a gent's bike and a more 'californian' looking ladie's bike for rent, 5 euros per day each.
The situation for handiccapped  travelers is not good. Access for weelchairs is poor to inexistent,  all over the inner city; and sadly our accomodations  in particular  are not suited for them ; the XIV century walls on the two  first levels leave no room for adaptations.