Visiting Avallon, France in 2019: the Complete Guide

By Clem | Aug 25, 2019
History France Avallon Burgundy Yonne

Contents

    Avallon is a French town located in the Yonne department (89), in Burgundy, that in known for its medieval history and its close proximity to the Morvan Regional Natural Park. It's a place that is small enough to be somewhat off the beaten path, and big enough to be rich in history, old buildings and natural attractions.

    Avallon

    Avallon

    How to reach Avallon

    Avallon is well connected and can be easily reached either by car, train or bus.

    By train

    Probably the best option for travelers. Trains leave Paris from the "Paris-Bercy" train station, in the 12th district (metro Bercy). Once arrived in Avallon, you'll reach the city center in about 15 minutes by foot. Tickets can be booked on the SNCF website (€35 for a one way ticket from Paris).

    Avallon train station

    Avallon train station

    Cheaper tickets are also sold on the TER Bourgogne-Franche-Comté website (only available in French). Tickets from Paris are €12, quite a bargain. You can book them up to 30 days in advance and places are limited, so it's best to book between 20 and 30 days before the departure date. To buy a ticket, scroll down to the form and enter the following:

    • Gare de départ (from): Paris-Bercy
    • Gare d'arrivée (to): Avallon
    • Date: your date
    • Nombre d’adulte(s): number of passengers (12+ years old only)

    Click on Ajouter au panier then Valider mon panier, you'll need then to create an account which is pretty straightforward. Note that your ticket must be either printed or loaded on the SNCF app (Android, IOS).

    The ticket you'll get is valid all day (but for a single ride), for the chosen date. This gives you the flexibility to choose your time at the last moment (there are usually 2 to 5 Paris - Avallon trains each day), you can see the schedule on the SNCF website.

    These trains are usually what French people call "without a reservation". There is no seat number on the ticket: you can sit if you find an empty spot. It can get really crowded, so make sure to arrive in advance. Last Friday and last Sunday trains are usually the busiest.

    Avallon train station platform

    Avallon train station platform

    By car

    Avallon is located near the French national highway A6 (going from Paris to Lyon). Take the exit #22, the city center is 8km away.

    Rideshares are also an option since they're quite common in France, check out Blablacar to find a ride. From Paris it will cost you around €15-25. Rides leave from other cities as well.

    There is also a more "local" option (Burgundy only) with the Carpool section of the Mobigo website.

    By bus

    Only regional buses reach Avallon, all within Burgundy. There are basically two options:

    Mobigo

    Mobigo is a regional bus network in Burgundy and Franche-Comté. Since it is partially financed by the Region, tickets have an excellent value: €1.50 per seat and free for children under 4, on every line.

    Departures are in front of the train station, you can buy your ticket directly from the driver.

    The lines are:

    There are also other lines that do not reach Avallon.

    SNCF

    Other regional buses can be booked directly on the SNCF website. They are more expensive than Mobigo (the price range is around €8-12) but are more frequent.

    By plane

    Reaching Avallon by plane is not a good idea. Avallon airport (LFGE) is actually an airfield that's not used for commercial aviation. The closest airport is Auxerre - Branches (AUF), 72km away but has practically no traffic. If you land in Paris, just take the train.

    Where to stay in Avallon

    Hotels

    There are 4 hotels in Avallon:

    You'll also find other options in the neighboring towns.

    The historical hotel l’Hostellerie de la Poste, where Napoleon stayed in 1815, is currently closed (due to a conflict between the owner and the manager). It is unclear whether it will re-open one day or not.

    Airbnb

    There are around 25 Airbnb listings in Avallon, starting from €45 for 2 people.

    Camping

    Camping is only aloud in designated areas. If you can bring your own tent, there are a few options to find a spot:

    Sous Roche (municipal camping)

    It's the "official" campsite of Avallon. It is located in the south side of Avallon, around 1.5km away from the city center (5 minutes by car, 20 minutes walking). Cottages are also available.

    • Open from April 1st to October 15th
    • Official website (available in English, click on the British flag)

    Ferme Auberge Les Châtelaines

    Also on the south side of Avallon, quite basic according to some of the reviews. More information here. Rooms also available.

    Couchsurfing

    There a 2 or 3 active hosts in Avallon, a few others in the surroundings.

    Getting around Avallon

    By foot

    Avallon itself is very walkable, the city is rather small and you'll find a sidewalk almost everywhere. Some streets in the city center are even closed to cars on weekends.

    By bus

    There is a free bus (Navette inter-quartiers Citéo) within Avallon that works only on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Schedule and map here.

    For day trips outside Avallon by bus check out the bus section.

    By car

    You'll only need a car if you plan to leave Avallon and visit other places in the area. You can rent a car within Avallon in different agencies: Hertz, Europcar and Avis.

    Parking in Avallon

    Parking in Avallon is easy and free, but there can be time limitations:

    • Red parking spot: 15 minutes
    • Blue parking spot: 1.5 hours (limited only from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 19:00)
    • White parking spot: 7 days

    You'll find red and blue parking spots only within the city center. There are plenty of white parking spots available a few hundred meters away.

    Don't forget to put your disc parking and to check out the signs.

    Top things to do in Avallon

    Wander in the city center

    Avallon was a fortified town. The city center is filled with old buildings, towers, gates, walls and bastions, built and rebuild between the 12th and the 15th centuries.

    The city center is rather small, you'll need around 10 minutes to go straight from one side to the other, but count around an hour for a nice stroll.

    Avallon's Frog Circuit

    Starting from outside the Tourist Office, the Frog Circuit (Circuit de la Grenouille) is a free self-guided trail that goes around the historical city center. It's a simple option that will allow you to see a lot...

    Departure point of Avallon's Frog Circuit

    Departure point of Avallon's Frog Circuit

    Distance: 1.5km
    Duration: ~2 hours

    You can also buy a €2 booklet at the Tourist Office. It contains a map and information about each of the 26 stops of the Frog Circuit.

    Follow the frogs!

    Follow the frogs!

    Saint-Lazare d'Avallon Church

    This church was built between the 11th and 17th centuries, feel free to walk in if there's no mass. You can also walk around the church for a beautiful view!

    Saint-Lazare d'Avallon Church

    Saint-Lazare d'Avallon Church

    Saint Martin Church

    Built in 1646, smaller than Saint-Lazare Church.

    Clock tower

    Built in 1456, only visible from the outside since the inside is not open to the public.

    Avallon's Clock Tower

    Avallon's Clock Tower

    The Costume Museum

    This museum displays a great collection of French costumes.

    • Guided tours only (with the owners, 2 sisters who speak English)
    • €5 / person (children €3)
    • Open during high season only (mid-April to late October)
    • Morning: 10:30 to 12:30, afternoon: 13:30 to 17:30

    Museum of the Avallonais

    Opened in 1971, the Museum of the Avallonais displays the history, architecture and arts of Avallon. It also hosts other exhibitions, such as the "Yao Collection" about the Yao people from Southeast Asia.

    • Open from April to September and during school holidays (check the website for exact dates)
    • €3 / person, free under 18 and for everyone on Wednesdays
    • Open from 14:00 to 18:00
    • Official website

    World War I Memorial

    On August 3, 1914, Germany declared war on France. Every men aged under 52 was sent to battle. This memorial, built in 1920, commemorates the lives of the people of Avallon who never came back.

    World War I Memorial

    World War I Memorial

    The Small Door (La Petite Porte)

    It's the southern entrance of the walled city. There is a small park right outside the door, with a few benches and beautiful views of the area.

    From there you can see the Gaujard Tower, on your left when facing the door.

    Small Door and Gaujard Tower

    Small Door and Gaujard Tower

    Houdaille Park (Square Houdaille)

    Small park next to the Small Door, it is named after Jules Houdaille who was mayor of Avallon during the 19th century.

    Houdaille Park entrance

    Houdaille Park entrance

    Lazare Gallery

    Art gallery located right in front of the Saint-Lazare d'Avallon Church.
    Closed on Wednesdays, official website (in French).

    Bois-Dieu

    Small forest that's located around 30 minutes by foot from the city center. It has many trails, the southeastern side offers some great views.

    There is also some equipment for physical exercise around the wood trails (pull-up bars and such).

    Activities in Avallon

    Hiking

    Hiking is a popular activity in this area, there are plenty of hikes to do around Avallon. Enquire at the Tourist Office for a complete list of trails.

    Avallon - Vézelay (part of Camino de Santiago)

    Avallon to Vézelay on the Vézelay Route is one of the most famous hikes to do around Avallon.

    Length: ~20km
    Duration: ~5h
    Steps: Avallon, Pontaubert, Vault-de-Lugny, Domecy-sur-le-Vault, Asquins

    Map of the Avallon - Vezelay hike (Camino de Santiago)

    Map of the Avallon - Vezelay hike (Camino de Santiago)

    Vauban cinema

    Small cinema with mostly French and Hollywood films. Foreign films are often available in the original language with French subtitles. Closed for constriction until then end of 2019.

    Where to eat

    Restaurants in Avallon

    There are plenty of restaurant options in Avallon, most of them are concentrated in and around Grande Rue Aristide Briand (the Clock Tower street).

    Grande Rue Aristide Briand and Clock Tower, Avallon

    Grande Rue Aristide Briand and Clock Tower, Avallon

    • Chez Manu (1 Rue du Marche), vegetarian options, menu from €15
    • Le Palais de Pekin (8 rue des Odebert), Chinese & Japanese food, lunch all-you-can-eat buffet at 13.90€
    • Le Vaudesir (84 rue de Lyon), fancy restaurant with a good reputation, menu from €31
    • Dame Jeanne (59 Grande Rue Aristide Briand), has a nice courtyard, vegetarian options and plenty of tea, menu from €13-15
    • La Tour (84 Grande Rue Aristide Briand), pizzeria, pizzas from €9 to €20
    • Crep'80 (76 Grande Rue Aristide Briand), crêpes in an 80's decor, you can play with a Rubix Cube while waiting for your order, dishes from €12.50
    • Le Poirier au Loup (7 rue du Maréchal Foch), single menu that changes daily, €17
    • Pizza Pok (121 rue de Lyon), take-away only, has a pizza machine in front that works 24h, pizzas from €8.50 to €13
    • Les Marechaux Brasserie (2 Grande Rue Aristide Briand), typical French "bar - brasserie"
    • Le Relais des Gourmets (47 rue de Paris), very nice setting, vegetarian options, menu from €21 (€15.50 menu from Wednesday to Friday)
    • Les Capucins (6 avenue Paul Doumer), French restaurant that's also a hotel, menu from €26
    • Bar le Relax (45 rue de Lyon), simple food and good value, dishes from €12
    • Cuisine Angeline (45 Grande Rue Aristide Briand), international food (African, Asian, Mediterranean & French)
    • Les Cordois Autrement (15 rue Bocquillot), owned by the same family since 1910, menu from €25
    • L'Horloge (63 Grande rue Aristide Briand), named after the clock tower, menu from €11,50
    • Auberge du Cheval Blanc (55 rue de Lyon), hotel / restaurant, French food, menu from €14,50
    • L'Imprevu (22 rue de Paris), Italian food, menu from €13
    • Moulin des Ruats (23 rue des Isles Labaume), outside the city center, nice rural atmosphere, menu from €32
    • Le Gourmillon (8 rue de Lyon), French food, menu from €16.50
    • Le Relais Saint Christophe (13 route de Paris), restaurant frequented by truck drivers, big parking lot, menu from €12.80
    • Le Chapeau Rouge (16 place Vauban), French food, simple dishes, menu from €12,50
    • L’Authentique (46 rue de la Porte Auxerroise), has a nice courtyard, vegetarian options, menu from €25

    Market

    Market every Tuesday and Saturday from 8:00 to 13:00, place du Général de Gaulle. There are two parts next to each other: inside and outside. You'll find better prices in the indoor market.

    Groceries

    Avallon has a few supermarkets:

    • Auchan (Rue du Général Leclerc) probably the biggest, located in a mall with a few stores and simple restaurants (Flunch, McDonald's, etc)
    • Bi1 (Rue de la Goulotte), located near the Bois-Dieu
    • Casino (Chemin de la Maladière)
    • Lidl (Rue de Pontauber)

    Events in Avallon

    May

    Oxfam Trailwalker Avallon

    The Oxfam Trailwalker Avallon is a 2-day fundraising event where teams of 4 people must complete a 100km point-to-point circuit around Avallon. Departure, arrival and animations from the city center.

    June

    Music Day

    June 21st in France is "Music Day", a national celebration. Plenty of concerts and musical events are organized all around Avallon this day.

    August

    Avallon's Day (Fête d'Avallon)

    The city of Avallon was freed from German occupation on August 19, 1944. Avallon's Day is celebrated each year around this date.

    All day, this event gathers street performers and musicians offering free performances around the historic city center of Avallon. Activities for children are also organized. Later at night, big fireworks are launched.

    Grimpettes de l’Avallonnais

    Bike races in and around Avallon gathering almost 1000 cyclists each year.

    Practical information

    Health

    Avallon Hospital

    The Avallon Hospital is located in the city center and open 24h all year long, some of the staff speak English.
    Phone: +33 3 86 34 66 00

    Avallon Hospital

    Avallon Hospital

    Medical doctors in Avallon

    There are a few doctors available in Avallon, you can find a complete list here (click on Afficher le n° to see the phone number).

    Attractions and things to do in the surroundings of Avallon

    Vézelay Abbey

    Vézelay is the superstar of the area. Located 16km west of Avallon, it is home to the huge Basilica Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. Official website (in French).

    Vezelay Abbey (also called Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine)

    Vezelay Abbey (also called Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine)

    Even though the Basilica attracts a lot of tourist each year, the city is very small with a population of around 450 (Avallon has a population of 7,000).

    In addition, there are also a few interesting museums in Vézelay, which makes it an excellent idea for a day trip.

    From Avallon, Vézelay can be reached by train (€5 one way, stop at Sermizelles). Sermizelles is located 10km away from Vézelay, but there is a shuttle that goes from the train station to Vézelay (line Mobigo LR505, €1.5 one way, 1h30).

    Abbey of Fontenay

    Abbey of Fontenay was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard. It's a private property that has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1981.

    The Abbey is open all year, entrance is €10 and 7€ for people under 26, see the official website for more information.

    Abbey of Fontenay, picture by Marc Ryckaert

    Abbey of Fontenay, picture by Marc Ryckaert

    Unfortunately, getting from Avallon to the Abbey of Fontenay without a car is a bit of a hassle. You'll first need to reach the Montbard train station, either by train or by the very infrequent bus Mobigo LR813. The Abbey is 6km away from the train station, you can either pay for a taxi (~€20), rent a bike at the Montbard Tourist Office (€11 half day, €20 full day) or walk.

    If you get there by car, the parking lot is free.

    Autun

    Autun is located 80km south of Avallon, it's a city full of Roman history and home to Autun Cathedral, a magnificent building from the 12th centuary.

    Autun Cathedral

    Autun Cathedral

    From Avallon, Autun can technically be reached by train (6 hours, 2 transfers), but it is best to take the bus (€1.5 one way, 1h30).

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    Written by Clem
    Hi, I'm Clem, co-founder of Triptipedia. Contact me at clem@triptipedia.com

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