Festival d’Avignon

Theatre Festival in Avignon, France

I just got back from the Festival d’Avignon, which is a major French theatre festival, hosted every July in the medieval town of Avignon, in the South of France.

During 3 weeks, new plays, old successes, dance shows, music gigs, one man shows,… will perform non-stop, in the hope to get discovered and to find a producer for the winter season.

When I was there, there were more than 1.400 shows playing every day. Can you imagine?!

The theatre Festival in Avignon, France

It’s also a merciless world: every year around 1/3 of the tehatre companies will going bankrupt & close before the end of the festival.

The whole city is covered with posters of all the performances,

Posters of the Festval Off in Avignon, France

Posters in the street from the Festival Off Avignon

And artists will perform & promote their shows in the streets.

No need to say, it really difficult to choose which shows to go to, especially when, like me, you’re only there for 3 days!!!

Festival d'Avignon a major theatre festival in France

It was the first time I went there, and I found it amazing!!! I’ve never been there before because I was afraid to be frustrated: seeing all these artists performing and then me not having any show to play in…

But actually to bathe in such an artistic atmosphere all day long everyday it’s anything but frustrating: it’s enriching and stimulating and exciting!!

I went there with my parents in law and my brother in law, but hubby couldn’t came because of work. My in laws are super lovely and cool, but still for a tiny moment I hesitated to go on my own as it was the first time… Did some of you had the same hesitation sometime? I’d like to hear about it 🙂

We obviously had a great time together! 🙂

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The city of Avignon is super pretty & it was a pleasure to wander around from a theatre to another…

Wandering the cute streets of Avignon, France

Cute garden in Avignon, France

Discovering Avignon in the south of France

Festival d'Avignon a major theatre festival in France

Wandering the streets of Avignon during the theatre festival

A giant Keith Haring statue at the museum of contemporary art of Avignon, France

Discovering Avignon in the south of France

Avignon is an ancient fortified city & the old wall still runs all around the city centre.

It’s particularly beautiful at sunset when the setting sun lights make the walls look golden.

The ancient wall of the medieval city of Avignon in France

& there are a lot of pretty al fresco restaurants. One in particularl was really good, everything was homemade & all the plates were kinda original, a mix  of flavors & ingredients you won’t find very often! I’m talking of L’Ami Voyage, a cute restaurant which is also a bookshop!

L'Ami Voyage a restaurant and bookshop in Avignon

Chickpeas salad at L'Ami Voyage in Avignon, France

^cheakpeas salad with grilled almonds, red peppers & grapefruit – sounds weird, it was delicious!

Homemade pie and salad at L'Ami Voyage in Avignon

Sunny lunch at L'Ami Voyage in Avignon during the theatre festival

We also visited the Pont d’Avignon, an unfinished, mediaeval bridge quite famous in France.

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The view over the Rhône river & the Palais des Papes was beautiful, especially in such a sunny day!

View over the Rhone river from Avignon bridge

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

& then all of a sudden the bridge is over!

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

The Pont d'Avignon a medieval bridge in the French town of Avignon

There is also a very well-known song about it, singing about people dancing on the bridge of Avignon…

Dancing on Avignon bridge

Which is not totally incorrect! 😉

Dancing on the Pont d'Avignon

We passed in front of the Palais des Papes, but didn’t have the time to visit… it will be for next year! 😉

The Palais des Papes in Avignon, France

The Palais des Papes in Avignon, France

As for the theatre, we saw many plays and generally I must say I was impressed by the actors’ talent. Either we chose well & we’ve been lucky – sometimes we just went to a show because the artist talked to us in the street & convinced us – or the acting level was quite high.

Also I thought there were a lot of plays with only one actor, not talking about one man show of course.

As for the plays, here’s my very favorite:

  • Une vie sur mesure from Cédric Chapuis : it’s the heart touching story of a lonely, young boy passionate about drums. Until last year it was Cédric Chapuis himself who was giving life to this prodigious boy, this year was an incredibly talented actor, only 19 years old!! Not only he was an amazing, touching and honest actor, but he was playing the drums incredibly!
    Honestly, I was baffled!
    If you’re in Avignon, or if the play is performed near you, you really have to see it, trust me! And don’t forget to tell me what you think about it!Also Cédric Chapuis plays and directs other shows, I saw the new one and my in-laws saw all of them & although Une vie sur mesure is the favorite of everyone, all of his work is very well written & performed. Let’s just say that to go the theater to see anything from Cédric Chapuis is a safe bet!
  • Les Petites Reines : we went there without knowing much about this play & we simply adored it! If I tell you the plot like this, it can seem quite simple: 3 girls that are elected the ugliest girls in high school decide to leave for a bike trip to Paris.
    It’s a fun, delicate, meaningful story that will make you laugh & cry.
  • Auto-psy : I already saw this play a couple of years ago in Paris when the director invited me. And hubby & I really loved it. So when I saw it was performing in Avignon, I invited my in-laws. It’s a hard story, but so well performed by Carine Coulombel, a talented actresses who plays the whole life of the character, since her childhood. What it’s quite impressive is how convincing she can play a child, a teenager and then a seductive young woman.
  • La tragédie du dossard 512 : to finish with some laughs, this is a light, fun play telling the story of a totally non-sporty guy who decide to run the Mont Blanc race. Yohan Métay has an incredible energy, he gives himself 100% & you will laugh from the beginning til the end!

I was just sad I couldn’t see Intra Muros, the new play from Alexis Michalik, as there was no place left. But I already saw it’s gonna play in Paris after the summer! 🙂

I’m sure all of these plays, in addition to Avignon Festival, will perform in Paris & all over France the next season, as I really can’t imagine that they won’t find a producer.

So if you’re a theatre lover or just want to have a nice night out, go for it!

Have you ever been to Avignon festival? Or have you seen some shows you particularly loved recently?

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6 Comments

  1. By the look of your pictures, I can say this town has a very rustic feeling to it. And you chose the right time to go. I didn’t know Festival d’Avignon is a major French theatre festival. You have added a new bucklet list item

  2. So many posters on the walls of the streets is the scene on every street here in India. Hahhaha.. 🙂 It would be so cool to walk through the streets of this town. Lovely pictures especially the one where you are dancing on the bridge.

  3. Avignon itself looks like a beautiful town to visit anytime, I love walled cities. The festival looks fun, so much choice, it must be fun checking out the posters. The food as you’d expect in France looks delicious.

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