The South of France may be more attainable than you think! Although the medieval city of Avignon is closer to Italy and Spain than the UK, thanks to Eurostar, it now only takes a little over six hours to get there from London Waterloo, making Avignon the ideal location for a long weekend break.

The South of France may be more attainable than you think! Although themedieval city of Avignon is closer to Italy and Spain than the UK, thanksto Eurostar, it now only takes a little over six hours to get there fromLondon Waterloo, making Avignon the ideal location for a long weekendbreak.

Characterised by fields of lavender, olive groves and vineyards, the regionaround Avignon, nestled between Provence and Languedoc, offers a feast foryour senses. The beautiful city itself boasts a rich cultural andarchitectural history, as well a buzzing contemporary arts scene, aplethora of museums and galleries, a book market, pretty streets bustlingwith boutiques, and a lively but relaxed atmosphere. It is dominated by thePalais des Papes (the Palace of Popes), an impressive and imposing buildingin a beautiful square, which was home to Popes from the 14th century.Avignon is also famed for it's ancient bridge – the dilapidated Pont SaintBénezet that inspired the 19th century dancing song 'sur le pont d'Avignon,l'on y danse'. It's the perfect vantage point from which to watch the sunset and enjoy the sights, tastes and smells of France.

Since 1947, Avignon has also become known for it's annual theatre festival,which entertains locals and visitors alike – nearly 120,000 of them! – withmusic, dance and drama. As the Festival d'Avignon is staged every July andAugust, the direct Eurostar London to Avignon route, which operates from 9July until 3 September, offers an easy way to join in and spot some risingstars.

But there's no rush: the city basks in 300 days of sunshine every year, andso provides plenty of opportunity to catch some rays. Eurostar can helpwhenever you plan to travel, with direct trains over the summer months, andnon-direct services via Lille and Paris throughout the year. Visit for more information.

Win a pair of first class Eurostar return tickets to Avignon

Meanwhile, The Independent online and Eurostar are giving you the chance toexperience the beauty, culture and history of Avignon first hand. To win apair of first class Eurostar return tickets for travel between Waterloo andAvignon this summer, simply write in no more than 50 words 'What I lovemost about travelling to France is'

Send us your name and email address with your entry by 17 June for yourchance to visit Avignon on a Eurostar direct train this summer between 8July and 9 September 2006. With a bit of luck, you'll soon be dancing onAvignon bridge yourself!

Eurostar/Independent competition rules

1. This prize draw is open to all UK residents aged 18 and over, whohold a valid 10-year passport. Employees of The Independent, Eurostar(U.K.) Limited or Eurostar Group Limited ("together referred to as"Eurostar") are not eligible to enter. By entering this prize draw you willbe deemed to have read and understood these and The Independent's standardterms and conditions and to be bound by them.

2. The address for entry is as stated in the entry details.

3. Closing date for receipt of entries is 17 June 2006.

4. No purchase necessary. Only one entry per person.

5. Entry to the draw is free and must be made on the official entryform, which can be found at

6. No responsibility can be accepted for incomplete, illegible, lost ordamaged entries. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. Entries viaagents or third parties will be deemed invalid.

7. The winner will be the person who gives the best response from theofficial entries received as judged by The Independent. The prize is basedon two adults travelling together and includes Leisure Select (1st Class)return travel with Eurostar to Avignon subject to the availability and thedates set out below in section 10. The Prize is non-transferable and thereare no cash alternatives.

8. The prize does not include any accommodation, travel insurance,transportation to and from London Waterloo International, AshfordInternational, or Avignon Centre station.

9. The winner will be notified in writing by 17 July 2006. The winner'sdetails will be made available after 24 July 2006 upon written requestincluding a stamped addressed envelope for reply.

10. The winner will be sent a voucher equivalent to Eurostar travel anddetails on how to redeem their prize. It is recommended that the winnersends in their booking to Eurostar by registered post. Booking needs to beat least 21 days in advance of travel. The winner must travel on theEurostar direct service to Avignon between 8 July and 9 September 2006(inclusive). For Eurostar's terms and conditions of booking and travelplease send a stamped addressed envelope to the Promoter's address. Allbookings and travel must originate in the U.K.

11. The winner must comply with all relevant customs and immigrationrequirements, including the appropriate passport and visa requirements.Neither The Independent nor Eurostar will be responsible for anypassenger's failure to comply. The winner is strongly advised to take outadequate travel insurance.

12. The winner agrees to the use of his or her name and photograph forpublicity purposes and may be required to take part in publicity withoutadditional payment or permission.

13. Events may occur that render the competition itself or the awardingof the prize impossible due to reasons beyond the control of TheIndependent.

14. The decision of Eurostar and The Independent is final and binding forany situation, including any not covered in these terms and conditions.

15. Eurostar (U.K.) Limited Conditions of Carriage apply to Eurostartrains. Copies are available from Eurostar sales points or

16. Promoter: Eurostar Group Ltd, Customer Services, Waterloo House,London SE1 8SE.

Visit to enter, and full terms and conditions.