Young Woman Holding a MaskThere's something for everyone in Avignon's museums, from a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull and avant-garde art to the Countess du Barry's travel tea service and one of the few paintings by Vincent van Gogh on view in Provence. logo

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This is a complete guide to Avignon's museums. The Palais des Papes and the Pont d'Avignon, which both have their own exhibition areas, are dealt with in separate articles. So are the Musée Angladon and the Collection Lambert.

News for Avignons museumsFantastic news for museum-goers in Avignon! Entrance to five museums in the city is now entirely free. They are: Calvet, Lapidaire, Petit Palais, Requien and Palais du Roure. Scroll down the page to read more about them.

The last two of these already offered free entry, but the three other museums are a new addition.

The aim is to boost visitor numbers, which soared during a pilot week of free admissions. Note that this scheme does not apply to galleries such as the Collection Lambert and the Musée Angladon.

mirabilis avignonTo mark this new grouping, the five museums involved are pooling several hundred selected rare objects from their archives and reserves for a temporary show called Mirabilis.

The flamboyant, Arles-born fashion designer Christian Lacroix has designed a setting inspired by the esoteric "cabinets of curiosities" popular during the Enlightment. The poster (detail pictured) suggests some quirky and revealing juxtapositions.

The result is on display in the Great Chapel of the Palais des Papes from 30 June-13 January 2019 and the exhibition is included in the price of admission.

The museums within the walled city are housed in lovely historic buildings and so it comes as something of a surprise that a number have been open for less than half a century. In fact some, such as the Collection Lambert, have only been around since the year 2000, when Avignon was the European City of Culture.

The Countess du Barry's personal portable tea service, in the Musee Louis Vouland, AvignonMany of Avignon's museums originate in the idiosyncratic passions of individual collectors: the Lambert, Angladon, Petit Palais, Louis Vouland, Calvet and Requien, among others.

This gives their holdings an excitingly quirky, personal quality. Expect the unexpected, and enjoy.

Insider tip for the museums of AvignonIf you are planning to visit more than one venue, be sure to pick up the "Avignon Passion" pass. Ask for it on your first visit to a local monument and you will get discounts of between 10% and 50% on subsequent attractions, both in Avignon itself and in Villeneuve lès Avignon, just across the river.

The Pass itself is free, is valid for 15 days and can apply to up to five persons. More details from the Avignon Tourist Office.

Many French museums offer free admission on the first Sunday of every month. To avoid the crowds and long queues for popular shows, turn up around 12noon. The lunch hour is sacred for many French visitors!

Watch out, too, for occasional late-night openings (nocturnes) when entry is also free. This happens systematically once a year in mid-May on the Nuit des Musées (European Night of the Museums), when a number of venues remain open until very late, often offering special events as well.

Many museums are closed on certain days of the week, mostly Mondays, though some private museums are open every day.

As opening hours can vary throughout the year - and certain places are closed for part of the winter season - please check the links to the museum websites for current details.

Pictured top left: Young Girl Holding a Mask (1745) by Charles-Antoine Coypel in the Musée Calvet and above right, the Countess du Barry's personal portable tea service in the Musée Louis Voulard


The Musée Louis Vouland (Louis Vouland Museum) is a discerning collection of 17th and 18th century furniture, porcelain, chandeliers, tapestries, paintings and other decorative items.

Interior, the Musee Louis Vouland, AvignonLouis Vouland (1883-1973) made his fortune in the meat business and spent it on amassing a fine array of objets d'art, as well as on buying the Villeneuve-Esclapon mansion, a 19th century hôtel particulier (town house).

On his death he bequeathed this house and its contents to the nation, requesting that they be turned into a museum in his name.

You enter the Musée Louis Vouland through its rather severe, north-facing classical façade on the rue Victor Hugo. Hidden at the back on the south side is a pleasant, sunny garden.

Inside, the treasures are all set out as though the house were still inhabited. An imposing entrance hall - with a sedan chair parked ready for use - leads to a dining room and salon, while a sweeping staircase takes you up to the private quarters on the first floor.

Highlights of the Musée Louis Voulard include a superb 17th century Dutch marquetry armoire, a Gobelins tapestry of Diana returning from the hunt, a splendid, very red, very large Chinese four-poster bed (with the bedside tables inside the canopy area) and an adorable fine porcelain tea set for one which formerly belonged to the Countess du Barry, complete with its own travelling case (pictured above).

Where: Musée Louis Vouland, 17 rue Victor Hugo, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 86 03 79. Website for the Musée Louis Vouland


Housed in an 18th century mansion, the Musée Calvet (Calvet Museum) is one of the 32 top-rated museums in France. Among Avignon's oldest museums, it celebrated its bicentennial in 2011.

The meeting of Alexander with the Queen of the Amazons by Pierre MignardThe collection was originated by the Avignon physician and scholar Esprit Calvet (1728-1810) and ranges from ethnology to ceramics, furniture and fine arts.

A special display is dedicated to the Avignon School of painters, among them Simon de Chalons and the ubiquitous local artist Joseph Vernet.

The Musée Calvet is constantly expanding. In 2010 it opened a new room of modern art with 75 works by, among others, Bonnard, Manet, Sisley, Vuillard and Camille Claudel.

In 2012 three extra rooms were added featuring some of the artefacts which were restored for the museum's 2011 blockbuster show, Sumptuous Egypt.

And the museum received a donation of The Meeting of Alexander with the Queen of the Amazons by Pierre Mignard (1612-1665). Pictured above, it complements the other paintings by the same artist in the Calvet's collection. The museum's archeological treasures are on display at the Musée Lapidaire (see below).

Where: Musée Calvet, 65 rue Joseph Vernet, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 86 33 84. Website for the Fondation Calvet Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Housed in the atmospheric 17th century Jesuit College Chapel, the Musée Lapidaire (Lapidary Museum) is dedicated to archaeology: Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Greco-Roman, and Gallic sculptures, sarcophagi and objects from everyday life.

It's notable for its remarkable series of masks from Vaison la Romaine and for the statue, unique in the world, of a Tarasque, a man-eating monster.

The Lapidary Museum underwent extensive renovation in 2014 and its substantial collection has been reorganised and enlarged with the loan from the Louvre of two major Greek funerary steles.

Where: Musée Lapidaire, 27 rue de la République, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 85 75 38. Website for the Musée Lapidaire


In 2000 the legendary gallery owner and art dealer Yvon Lambert offered hundreds of works by the cream of contemporary artists to the city of Avignon for what has become the Collection Lambert.

Collection Lambert forecourt with art installationAnselm Kiefer, Douglas Gordon, Nan Goldin, Cy Twombley, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andres Serranno are among his collection, many of their pieces acquired at early stages in their careers.

This is one of the biggest holdings of modern art in France, and one of the boldest.

Originally on long-term loan, it has been enhanced by a further major permanent donation to the city from Lambert in 2012 and the museum building has been substantially enlarged to house it. Read our full guide to the Collection Lambert.

Where: Collection Lambert, 5 rue Violette, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 16 56 20. Website for the Collection Lambert


The Musée Angladon (Angladon Museum) is a small but exquisite collection of 19th and 20th century art including one of the few works by Vincent van Gogh on permanent view in Provence: Wagons de Chemin de Fer (Railway Carriages), painted shortly after the artist arrived in Arles in February 1888. Recently renovated and expanded, the museum also holds excellent temporary exhibitions. Read our full guide to the Musée Angladon.

Where: Musée Angladon, 5 rue Laboureur, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 82 29 03.


The Musee du Petit PalaisPart of the mighty complex of buildings that also embraces the Cathedral and the Palais des Papes, the Musée du Petit Palais (Petit Palais Museum) is found in the former Archbishops' Palace (pictured on a beautiful November day).

It focusses on Italian - and, to a lesser extent, provençal - paintings, stone carvings and sculptures from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

It lays claim to be one of the greatest collection of Italian primitive painting anywhere in the world outside of Italy.

The core of the museum's holdings is the Campana Collection, over 300 works of art assembled by Gian Pietro Campana, a wealthy investor.

It's augmented by works on loan from the Musée Calvet and the Louvre. An entire room is devoted to work by Sandro Botticelli, both sacred (Virgin and Child) and secular (Venus and Three Putti). Vittore Carpaccio's Holy Conversation is another prize exhibit.

A charming tea-room, Autour d'un Thé, un Voyage, is tucked away in the chapel at the back of the museum, and you can visit it without entering the Musée du Petit Palais itself.

Where: Musée du Petit Palais, place du Palais, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 86 44 58. Website for the Musée du Petit Palais Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Next door to the Musée Calvet, the Musée Requien (Requien Museum) chronicles five billion years of geology and ecology in the local area and houses one of the most important natural history libraries in France.

Bonelli's EagleThe bad news is that all the signage is in French only and there is no audio guide. The good news is that entrance is free and that some of the striking visual displays should be highly attractive to children.

As you go in, there is a diorama of stuffed animals and birds from the region including a rare Bonelli''s Eagle (a live one is pictured), a wild boar and even a bear. A gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, discovered in nearby Mormoiron, is also impressive.

Don't miss the herbarium, which contains some 200,000 specimens from around the world gathered by botanists, including Esprit Requien (1758-1851), the natural scientist who donated the museum's core collection and after whom it is named.

The museum also features the work of the leading entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915), who lived in Avignon (his house can be seen in the nearby rue des Teinturiers) and who was one of the museum's curators.

Where: Musée Requien, 67 rue Joseph Vernet, 84000 Avignon. Tel : (+33) 4 90 82 43 51. Website for the Musée Requien Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This museum of provençal culture is located in the Baroncelli-Javon mansion, built in 1469 by the banker Pierre Baroncelli.

It was renamed the Palais du Roure by Frédéric Mistral, one of the founders of the Félibrige movement. Its aim was to promote the provençal language and traditions, of which this building became a centre. Roure means "oak" in provençal, and the name refers to the oak branches sculpted on its façade.

The collection includes everything provençal: manuscripts and icons, furniture, santons and Christmas cribs, tools, bells and traditional costumes.

There's a fine painted ceiling dating back to the 15th century and a few surprises too, like some mementos of John Stuart Mill, the British economist who died in Avignon in 1873.

The Palais de Roure also organises a lively cultural programme, with lectures, festivals and other special events.

Where: Palais du Roure, 3 rue College du Roure, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 80 80 88.


A mont de piété is a pawn shop and, dating back to 1610, this is the oldest in France. Probably Avignon's most oddball museum, it houses the municipal archives and chronicles the history of pawnbroking and silk production in the region.

Where: Musée du Mont de Piété, 6 rue Saluces, 84000 Avignon. Tel.: (+ 33) 4 90 86 53 12.

The Maison Jean Vilar

Poster Avignon Festival 1949The actor-director Jean Vilar launched the Festival d'Avignon in 1947 in the Palais des Papes. Since then it has become France's major festival of dramatic art. Website for the Festival d'Avignon

Housed in the 14th century Hôtel de Crochans, the Maison Vilar celebrates the career of this radical and enormously influential force in French theatre.

It includes scripts, press clippings, photographs, posters, programmes, sound recordings and thousands of costumes and costume designs by painters who worked with Vilar, notably Léon Gischia, Mario Prassinos and Edouard Pignon.

There's also a section on the history of the Festival d'Avignon itself (pictured: the poster from the 1949 festival).

Where: Maison Jean Vilar, 8 rue de Mons, Montée Paul Puaux, 84000 Avignon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 86 59 64. Website for the Maison Jean Vilar



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