Culture & Indulgence with 24 Hours in Avignon, France

When I lived in London I always had in mind the Eurostar that went straight to Avignon. I never used it, but any Londoners reading this, you now have a reason to check out the fares. Avignon is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m only finding that out now…

We had 2 days to kill before our friends wedding last month. Wanting to make the most of our time there, we dropped the Jaguar off in Paris to take its own overnight train whilst we got the speedy 3 hour TGV there the day before. All we had to do was collect it at the local station at 8am, easy.

We arrived in Avignon mid Wednesday afternoon and walked from the station to Hôtel La Mirande, an elegant 5* hotel in a rather Grand Mansion, just a few minutes walk from the Palais des Papes. This was a surprise stay for me, and I was absolutely staggered at the beauty of the place. Made even more clever by E trying to walk me into the lobby of a Mercure hotel along the way.

Our room was delightful, upholstered chintz walls, heavy on the opulence, so French and totally charming. The hotel underwent a recent discreet renovation, you’ll find the latest Smart technology AV system behind mirrored gilt picture frames whilst keeping all the charm of an elegant country feel home.

Large Deluxe rooms offer between 33-43 m/sq of space. The interiors are 18th Century, Louis XV and XVI. Panelled doorways, dado rails, cornicing, chintz wall coverings and silk curtains throughout. The bathrooms are all Carrara marble or tiled, air-con, wifi and super king-beds.

We were ready to explore Avignon before dinner, so set out back towards the station to find Collection Lambert, a contemporary art museum which opened in 2000 by Yvon Lambert.

The Collection Lambert opened its doors in 2000, as part of the Avignon, European Capital of Culture programme. Yvon Lambert, a gallery owner and art collector, decided to store his personal collection in the Hôtel de Caumont, an old town house dating from the 18th century.

A collector since the 60’s the Collection represents the tastes and passions of its unique owner. We viewed some quite evocative works on our visit, photography capturing the current migrant crisis, French videographers and installation artists filled vast spaces at the Collection. You can easily lose yourself for 3 hours here. Just bear that in mind if you visit.

Every Wednesday evening, if you’d like to dine at the hotel, you are invited to join the Chef’s Table for ‘La Table Haute’ in the historic 19th Century basement kitchen. These friendly evenings begin in the hotel cellar where you’re invited to taste local wines before joining fellow hotel guests, locals or couples who’ve travelled just for the dining experience.

The evening is around 85€ per person. You are then invited to take tea and or an digestif in the Salon Rouge upstairs before bed time calls. The guests during our evening (around 16) were mostly American, with a couple also from England and Germany.

The following morning, whilst E collected his car from the station, I enjoyed a lie-in before we had our breakfast on the terrace. They’re still squeezing the last of the summer sun from the skies in the South of France!

We set off from the hotel mid-morning, with no real plan but to drive. We were armed with a road map, and a Michelin restaurant guide. Now that’s our kind of mini-break.

Hôtel La Mirande 4 Place de l’Amirande, 84000 Avignon

LWSY visited in September 2016

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