The newest “Bridge of Avignon” is actually a pair of railway viaducts spanning the Rhône River and Valley as part of the high-speed “LGV Méditerranée” (‘Mediterranean line of great speed’) that was opened in 2001.
Most of the trains on this line go to Paris, Lyon, Lille or Geneva, but there is also one train a day in each direction between Frankfurt am Main and Marseille, stopping at the station Avignon TGV.
Second photo: The twin viaducts as seen from the Rocher des Doms in Avignon.
Third, fourth and fifth photos: Avignon as seen from the train, while crossing one of the viaducts.
Back to my first Avignon review: Opéra Grand Avignon
Back to my Avignon intro page
On to my Villeneuve lez Avignon page,
about the “New City” across the river from Avignon.
This “New City” is so new, it wasn’t even founded until the end of the 13th century,
during the reign of the French King Philippe le Bel.
This is Avignon’s traditional train station, “Gare Avignon Centre”, located just outside the city walls at Porte de la République.
The station was built in 1860 by an architect named Louis-Jules Bouchot (1817-1907), who also designed railroad stations in Milan, Valence, Nice and Toulon. His station in Milan no longer exists, however, since it was replaced by the current station Milano Centrale in 1931.
Second photo: Tracks in the Avignon Central Station.
Third photo: A regional train in the Avignon Central Station. This station is served primarily by regional trains, designated “TER”, but also by a few of the high-speed TGV trains.
Next: TGV station
The station “Gare Avignon TGV” was opened in 2001 with the opening of the new “LGV Méditerranée” high-speed railway line.
Like most of the new TGV stations (such as the one on the outskirts of Reims), this station has four through tracks. The two outer tracks have platforms where trains can stop, and the two inner tracks are fenced off so trains can barrel through at over 300 km per hour.
Second photo: There has been some attempt at landscaping at the front of the station, in an effort to mitigate the effect of the huge parking lots that dominate the site.
Third photo: The TGV Lyria trains are the ones that go to and from Switzerland.
Fourth photo: A TGV train arriving from Paris. Most of these trains also stop in Lyon, but a few travel non-stop from Paris to Avignon, a distance of over seven hundred kilometers.
Fifth photo: In the station “Avignon TGV”.
Next: Shuttle train (Navette)
When the railway station “Avignon TGV” was opened in 2001, it was surrounded by four huge parking lots for automobiles and six pavilions for car rental companies – but it had no train connection to the Avignon central train station. Passengers without cars had to take a bus, which allegedly took up to 45 minutes to get into town if it got stuck in traffic.
A dozen years later, with great fanfare, a new shuttle line (‘Navette’) went into operation in December 2013. Now there are 35 shuttle trains a day in each direction, connecting the two stations in five minutes, with one stop along the way. The shuttle trains run from before six in the morning until after eleven at night, and they are timed to provide convenient connections with the high-speed TGV trains.
Most of the tracks used by the shuttle trains were in place all along. The only thing missing was a curve to connect the new tracks to the old ones. This cost 37 million Euros to build, which sounds like a lot of money to us normal folks, but is actually quite modest compared to the huge amounts that are routinely squandered on overblown infrastructure for automobiles.
For most TGV passengers, the five-minute ride on the shuttle train does not cost anything extra. Since I was not sure, I asked the conductor on my TGV train, and he said it was included in my fare. I have since read that only those who have a cheap “Prem" ticket have to pay an additional € 1.50 to use the shuttle.
Second photo: This poster has a schematic representation of the new shuttle line and the slogan: La ligne qui vous transport! = The line that transports you, in both meanings of the word transport. It moves you from one place to another, and it fills you with exaltation. I must admit that I did not feel much exaltation but rather bewilderment about why it had taken them so long to get the shuttle train running.
Third photo: The shuttle train is the one on the left, on track A. The train on the right is a TGV that has just arrived.
Next: The farm of Gigognan
The TGV Méditerranée trains to Avignon leave from Paris Gare de Lyon (20 boulevard Diderot, Paris 12) all through the day.
Gare Avignon TGV is in the Quartier de Courtine, 2 km south of the city center. There is a shuttle bus to Avignon Centre daily.
Avignon TGV connects to Nantes, Rouen, Metz, Montpellier, Geneva, Brussels, Lyon, Marne la Vallée for Disneyland Paris, Rennes, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.
The main regional train station is Gare Avignon Centre at Boulevard Saint-Roch. Connections include regional trains, Intercity lines and TGV (high speed train) to Paris (3h20), plus Eurostar between Avignon and London direct (no changes) from July to September.
The Autotrain Avignon Sud for passengers with their cars is at Chemin de la Poulasse. Trains run all year round.
The distance from Paris to Avignon is around 700 kms (435 miles), and the journey takes around five and a half hours depending on your speed. There are tolls on the Autoroutes.
From the center of Paris make for the A3/A6/Peripherique/Porte de Bercy/Charenton
Follow signs for Aéroport Orly/Lyon/Périphérique Interieur/Quai d'Ivry/Porte d'Italie and merge onto Bd Périphérique
Take exit onto A6B towards A10/Bordeaux/Nantes/Lyon/Évry/Aéroport Orly-Rungis Follow signs for A6/E15/Geneve/Lyon/Chalon-sur-Saone/Beaune-Hospices /Lyon/Chilly-Mazarin
At Lyon, continue onto A7/E15 past Valence, Montelimar and Orange
Take exit 22-Roquemaure towards Villeneuve-les-Avignon/Mazrcoule/Avignon
Follow signs to Avignon center.
There are 2 train stations in Avignon. If you arrive by TGV from Paris it is likely you will arrive at AvignonTGV station, this is a 10 minute bus ride to the centre of Avignon fare 1 euro 30. The best station to arrive is Avignon Centre, as its name suggests is central, TGVs arrive here as well as local TER s. If you are travelling from London in July, August and early September on a Saturday there is a direct Eurostar train to Avignon Centre.
For many tourists to Avignon, their point of arrival will be the gorgeously futuristic TGV (high speed rail) station on the outside of town, which is a glorious piece of design.
To avoid confusion, please bear in mind that local/regional services do NOT stop at this station - these depart from the Avignon Central railway station just opposite the post office and Porte de la Republique.
The easiest and cheapest way to get into the town centre is to catch the navette bus - this takes 10 minutes and buses run on average about twice and hour between about 06:00 and 23:00 (depending on the time of year). This is much cheaper than a taxi (just less than €2 at the time of writing in October 2011) and also has the advantage that you don't have to join what can be rather a long queue for taxis after a TGV train arrives. If needs be, you can then pick up a taxi from outside the railway station in the centre of town (since the navette terminus is immediately over the road from here).
Arles is a very nice small town near Avignon and it's very easy to get there from Avignon by train. There is discount price in weekend (shading area in their train time table, always available at station) . Going this way, I thought of Van Gogh when he walked a long the railway from Arles to Avignon (his painting about this is kept in Van Gogh Foundation Museum in Arles). Staff on train was very very friendly and helpful. I bought round trip ticket but found that I lost a ticket somewhere in Avignon, maybe in the station. I told the ticket checker and he called to station to see if anyone return my ticket there. When we arrived Arles, we didn't find it anyway and he let me go without ticket and said I still have to pay the way back because they didn't find my lost ticket. It costed only few euros as far as I remember but this made quite a good impression on me about train service and people here.
Getting there: Avignon is an easy 3-1/2-hour ride from Paris on the TGV, France's high-speed train. A full-fare, round-trip adult ticket from the capital costs about $140. There are also numerous train connections from other French cities.
From London there is a ryanair flight to Nimes. This is also a very beautiful city and only 60 Km from Avignon.
By train, car... or....??? :-)) Your choice.
There is no bus or shuttle service to the Town center and if you're thinking of hailing a cab, it would cost around 100-150 French francs. Avignon Airport is approximately 8KM away from the town center.... just in case you're wondering.
I got there by train from the city of Lyon, but Avignon also has train connections to many other French cities, Marseille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Dijon and, of course, Paris are among them.