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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  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. The food looks awesome..I am sure there is plenty for vegetarians. I love enjoying a good meal in an al fresco setting. It sure is a tough call on which tour to take… I am sure you enjoyed your choice. The old buildings make me relive the past…seems like such a fun place. Avignon looks like such an awesome place!

    1. Indeed nothing like an al fresco meal during summer! 🙂 oh it was difficult to choose the shows, we generally weren’t disappointed… although we also saw something really bad ahah!

  4. 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.

    1. Indeed Avignon was a really enjoyable city, it must be nice to visit also when the festival is over. Although, I’ve been told that when the festival is over the city is much less alive and also many restaurants open only for the festival time.

  5. sounds like a cool festival. tribute and celebrations to arts and culture in france are absolutely amazing. stunning town, it as never on my radar, but i see it’s def worth a visit.

  6. What an incredible experience being surrounded by artists and having the chance to see all sorts of different plays. It would be a little overwhelming to choose from all these genres. but I am glad you were successful in choosing some great options and they didn’t disappoint. It’s my first time hearing of this festival. I will have to try to go one day.

  7. Great pictures! The Festival d’Avignon reminds of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (I’m from Scotland). Good for you for taking the trip with your in-laws. My wife is from Thailand and I get on really well with her parents too! Nice post. thanks for sharing!

    1. Never been to Edinburgh festival, but I heard about it a lot and yes I think it’s more or less the same kind of festival! It’s nice to get on well with the in law family 🙂 it must be nice to have family in Thailand! 🙂

  8. Avignon looks beautiful – I would love to go to the South of France. Also the chickpea dish actually looks really nice. All the plays sound interesting too – what a great time to visit in the festival!

  9. Streets of Avignon displaying so many posters about the plays is really unique. it should be declared as city of posters. The view of Rhône river & the Palais des Papes is really amazing, specially when walking walkingon the bridge. Chickpea salad is my favorite and it looks yum.

    1. Indeed it’s a unique festival i guess! 🙂 The view from the bridge was something! So beautiful!! Chickpea salads are one of my fav dishes too, and this one was really original!

  10. These old buildings and your pictures tell their own beautiful tale. I love attending festivals and this one looks cool. The whole artistic atmosphere looks so exciting and energising. I often feel hesitant of going to places all alone and I prefer it with like minded people. Togetherness is fun!

    1. love festivals too! Of course I do prefer to travel in good company, but sometimes it’s good to go somewhere alone too! And when you travel alone you usually end up meeting many new friends too! 🙂

  11. We visited the city of Avignon last year. It was our base to visit the lavender fields. The city is indeed gorgeous and exudes old world charm. We had to leave a day before the festival looks like we missed it. The posters around the city looks fab.

    1. Oh that’s sad you missed the festival! I’ve never been to the lavender fields yet, although I’ve been to Avignon and before to Marseille that wasn’t far away. Now it’s too late, but next year I’m going to see the lavender fields for sure!!!!

  12. I am glad that you got to enjoy the trip with your family in-laws, I bet that all your nerves faded once you got to live this experience with them. Thank you for stating the plays you went to and what they are about, as I love theatre and would like to someday, eventually, go and see them if possible.

    1. You’re right once I arrived there, I wasn’t nervous anymore! It was just the idea before.. 😉 hope you’ll be able to go to Avignon once as for theatre lovers is wonderful!!

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