Shuttle boat (Navette)
For those who don’t feel like walking or cycling across the dangerous Daladier Bridge, there is a much better way to cross the south arm of the river between Barthelasse Island and Avignon, namely by taking the free navette or shuttle boat.
This shuttle boat runs about four or five times an hour. In July and August it runs every day from 11 am to 9 pm, with shorter hours in the spring and autumn. It does not run at all from the first of January to the fifteenth of February, and not on Christmas Day.
This “Navette” is a boat, but there is also a “Navette” which is a shuttle train between the two railroad stations Avignon TGV and Avignon Centre.
Second photo: The crossing on the shuttle boat really is completely free, and they also take bicycles.
Third photo: Here the shuttle boat is docked in Avignon, near the Saint Bénezet Bridge.
Fourth photo: And here it is docked on Barthelasse Island. The castle in the upper left-hand corner of the photo is Fort Saint-André in Villeneuve lez Avignon.
Fifth photo: Passengers debarking on Barthelasse Island, as seen from the Rocher des Doms.
Phone: 04 90 85 62 25
Next: Youth hostel on the island
- Sailing and Boating
As you may have noticed, I’m a great fan of bike sharing systems. I have used them successfully in Paris, Lyon, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bern, Zürich, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Dortmund, Hannover, Lille and a number of other cities, and was always highly satisfied. I was less satisfied with the system in Marseille, not because of the system itself, but because the city of Marseille does not have anything resembling an adequate cycling infrastructure.
So far I have only been to two cities where I did not succeed in accessing the bike sharing system at all: Brussels and Avignon.
In Avignon the Vélopop’ system accepted neither my German credit card nor my German debit card nor my German mobile phone number. To use Vélopop’ you have to have a mobile phone number with a maximum of ten digits – which means in effect that you have to have a French number, because any foreign number is bound to have more. My German number, when called from a French telephone, has fourteen digits.
When I realized that my registration was not working, I walked over to the TCRA office on Avenue De Lattre de Tassigny (TRCA being the regional transport authority, which runs Vélopop’ as well as the local and regional buses), thinking they would be able to enter me into the system manually. But they were unable to help me, even though they were very friendly and sympathetic. They finally suggested I go over to Provence Bikes and rent a bike, which they also said would be cheaper if I was going to do a lot of cycling. (I didn’t really believe this at the time, but after several days and a bit of calculating I decided they were right.)
While all this was going on I learned a bit about the Vélopop’ system and found that it is somewhat different from the ones in other cities. When you enter your number to use a bike, you don’t just take the bike, you first have to take out a key (from a keyhole which has lit up) to unlock the bike. This means you have to return the bike (and the key) to the same station where you got it – which in my opinion rather defeats the purpose of an urban bike sharing system, but never mind.
For those who succeed in getting a one-day or seven-day subscription to Vélopop’, the first half hour is not free, as in other cities, but costs € 0.50 per half hour right from the start.
I did see various people using the Vélopop’ bikes, so they do seem to have a useful function for local residents and for visitors from other parts of France.
Phone: 0810 456 456
Next: Provence Bike
The proposed tramway
At Porte de la République, across from the central railway station, there is an exhibit where part of a tram is on display, so people can go inside and see what it is like.
The tramway is a project of Grand Avignon, and is intended to be the backbone of the future urban transport system. But the tramway project is still very controversial in Avignon and vicinity, despite the overwhelmingly positive effects of the new tramways in a number of other French cities.
Representatives of eight other middle-sized urban areas, Strasbourg, Besançon, Aubagne, Dijon, Le Mans, Mulhouse, Orléans and Caen, recently came to Avignon to report on the advantages of their new tram systems. They insisted that the tramway is not merely a form of collective transport, but also “a tool of urbanism” which creates “a new territorial dynamism.”
The mayor of Strasbourg (where the new tramway has been in operation since 1994) was quoted as saying: “When we made the tramway, lots of people were against it, but today our problem is that everybody wants a tram station. In a few years these are the people who will demand to have a tram running through their quarter!”
Look ma, no wires! in Reims
The tramways of Grand Lyon
The trams in Strasbourg
The new tramways in Marseille
The tramway T-3 (now the T-3a) in Paris
Extension of the tramway in Paris
Return of the trams in Edinburgh, Scotland
Next Avignon review: Cityzen small buses
In the summer of 2010, the city of Avignon declared the entire Old City within the city walls (intra-muros) to be an Encounter Zone (Zone de Rencontre), in which pedestrians have the right of way, cyclists may ride in both directions on most streets and the speed limit for everyone is 20 km per hour.
According to the Association of Urban Cyclists in Avignon (Roulons à Vélo), “experience has shown that at 20 kilometers per hour, possible conflicts tend to be resolved not by force but in a spirit of tolerance and friendliness (convivialité) to the advantage of pedestrians and people with reduced mobility.”
They caution, however, that people’s behavior will have to evolve, and “we should work in this direction because the task will be long and arduous!”
My impression from several days of walking and cycling in this zone in the spring of 2014 is that most road users do adhere to the rules. Only a small minority does not. Unfortunately all it takes is a small minority to make the streets dangerous and unpleasant for everyone else. Enforcement of the rules seems to be sporadic. I did not notice any police presence in the evenings, only during the daytime and mainly on weekdays.
Second photo: Signs at Porte St-Michel.
Third photo: Signs at Porte de l’Oulle, near Place Crillon.
Since even the people at the TRCA office did not succeed in registering me for the Vélopop’ bike sharing system, I took their advice and walked over to Provence Bike, where I rented a city-bike for five days.
This cost me 49 Euros (which works out to € 9.80 per day). There was also a deposit of € 150.00 which was pre-authorized on my credit card, but never used since I returned the bike on time and in good condition.
Provence Bike is a very professional bike shop with a good selection of bikes. The service was friendly and uncomplicated. I would definitely rent from them again.
At the same address, but with a different phone number, there is a shop which rents out motor bikes and motor scooters under the name “Holiday Bikes”.
Address: 7 Avenue Saint-Ruf, 84000 Avignon
Phone: +33 4 90 27 92 61
Cityzen small buses
For short-distance transport on the narrow streets within the city walls, these 20-seat “Cityzen” mini-buses run six days a week on two different routes. During the day they run every twelve minutes and cost € 0.50 per ride.
As you can see from the pictograms and the low entrance, they are particularly suitable for people in wheelchairs and with limited mobility.
These bus lines are similar to the two minibus lines in the French city of Metz, which also has a maze of narrow streets in its Old Town.
Next: Temporary bus stations
Temporary bus stations
Those who have read Cathy Reichardt’s 2011 tip The not very beautiful bus station in Avignon here on VirtualTourist will recall that she described the bus station as being “less-than-hygienic” and “positively grungy”, and she warned of “the litter, the filth and the pervasive urine stench of the entrance to the bus station”.
Apparently the authorities in Avignon read her tip – or perhaps they noticed by themselves that the bus station needed some work – in any case the bus station was closed for renovation when I was there in 2014, but there were some temporary bus stops and ticket offices nearby. The one in my first photo is right by the ramparts at Porte Saint Michel.
Second photo: This is one of the Edgard buses, which provide very economical transportation to places like the Pont du Gard and Uzès.
Next: Central train station
By Car: How Far/How Long...?
Some road distances to Avignon from:
- Heidelberg (Germany: 833 kms.
- Venecia/Venice (Italy): 834 kms.
- Split (Croatia):1.469 kms.
- Madrid (Spain): 2.193 kms.
Checking the website, you’ll find more road distances together with the driving times and the best routes.
Bus in the Avignon region
The general website of the Avignon regional bus company is www.tcra.fr
It tells you that they give personal advice on your itinerary.
Just email email@example.com and mention:
- departure address
- arrival address
- approx times that you want to travel
- how often you will travel
- your email address
They will give you the best itinerary and rates.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
On local buses you pay the driver, fare is 1 euro 30, the ticket is punched in a machine and is valide for one hour, so you can travel again within the hour. Example one day after walking around Avignon and being tired i took a bus to Villeneuve lez Avignon and returned within the hour. The bus ride was very nice for the views.
Strolling Around Avignon
Walking is definitely the best way to experience Avignon. We enjoyed our strolls through the squares, wandering into shops, having a meal in a cafe, grabbing some ice cream, people watching and exploring. There are so many little streets and alleys to explore. We wandered into a side street and found a shop selling all sorts of cooking supplies, herbs, spices and oils. Liz waked out of the shop with bags full of Herbs de Provence, olive oils, teas and saffron. We also wandered into an open air market that was selling all sorts of jewelry. Liz found a nice deep blue beaded ankle bracelet.
I think a trip is all about the discovery and there is more to discoverwhen on foot.
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