Location: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur   Map

Known for: Avignon's papacy during which the residence of pope was moved here from 1309 to 1378


Description of Avignon

Avignon is a city and commune in Provence, southern France, on the east bank of the Rhône, with a population of 90,597 (as of January 1, 2020), around 15,000 of whom live within the city walls. Avignon is the seat of the prefecture and the largest city in the Vaucluse department.

Since Avignon was the papal seat from 1309 to 1376 – and during the subsequent Western Schism – the city is nicknamed the “City of Popes”. The old town of Avignon with its magnificent medieval houses is surrounded by an intact and imposing fortification wall. The old town with the Gothic papal palace (Palais des Papes) from the 14th century, the bishop's complex, the Rocher des Doms and the famous bridge, the Pont Saint-Bénézet, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This bridge is on everyone's lips because of a folk song.

Artistic and cultural, the city is known far beyond France thanks to the Avignon Festival. In 2000, Avignon was the European Capital of Culture.


Travel Sights in Avignon

The city of Avignon is not only an administrative center but primarily an artistic and cultural scene and a city with a rich cultural heritage. For a long time it bore the title "City of Art", which was abolished in 2005 and replaced by the title "Cities and Countries of Art and History". However, the municipality decided not to follow this new designation any further.


City ​​wall

The high 14th-century city wall is the first thing you notice as you approach the city centre. It is approximately four kilometers long and is flanked by 39 towers and seven main gates, which are spread around the old town. The old moats have been filled up and turned into car parks, but the wall has retained its original height, providing good and safe shelter for the residents of Avignon.


Historical old city

There are many churches in the old town, one of which is the parish church of St-Pierre d'Avignon, a former collegiate church built around 1356 in the south-west of the papal palace with a late Gothic façade from the early 16th century that is well worth seeing. The beautiful flamboyant ornaments were created by the glass painter Philippe Garcin, who was then based in Avignon, and are superimposed on the facade as a flat relief. The portal is adorned with precious Renaissance wooden door panels created by the Burgundian sculptor Antoine Volard in 1551.

Other buildings worth seeing are the cardinal palaces, the town houses with facades from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the monasteries (Capuchin monastery), an opera house, several small squares (place de l'Horloge) and museums (lapidarium, requiene museum , Musée Calvet, Louis-Voulant Museum, Musée du Petit Palais, Maison Jean Vilar, annex of the French National Library), a listed library, a listed millinery (the only one in France), the Chapellerie Mouret, a "green wall", which is hung on the north side of the market halls and of course the papal palace with its cour d'honneur and its many outbuildings.


Papal palace

From 1309 to 1417 the papal palace was the seat of the so-called Avignonese papacy and the residence of the popes. In 1309, the French King Philip IV used political intrigues to elect a pope of French origin who resided not in Rome but in Avignon. Philip thus overturned the fundamental self-image of the Catholic Church, namely that its head should reside in Rome, because the first pope, the apostle Peter, is traditionally considered the first bishop of Rome. Of course, Viterbo and Anagni also served as long-term papal residences in the course of papal history, but more for practical reasons. Avignon became a stumbling block to emphasize French power: starting with Clement V, seven French-born popes took their seats in Avignon. In 1377 Gregory XI. returned his residence to Rome, which the French cardinals, however, did not recognize, who elected an anti-pope the following year and thus initiated the schism that gave the Catholic Church two popes, who did not recognize each other, until the end of the Council of Constance (1417).

The papal palace was mainly built by Benedict XII. and Clement VI. built, the third and fourth French popes. Clement VI. also bought the city of Avignon from Queen Joan of Naples. The city remained part of the Papal States until the French Revolution.

Jean Froissart described the palace as "the most beautiful and overwhelming estate in the world". The palace was built on the Rocher des Dom, the only hill that was close enough to the Rhone and on which the Notre-Dame des Dom cathedral also stands.


Pont Saint-Bénézet

Leaving the old town and heading towards the embankments, one arrives at Avignon's famous stone bridge, the Pont Saint-Bénézet. Of its twenty-two arches built across the Rhône in the 14th century, only four arches survived the flood of 1668, so the bridge today ends in the river. The building, which replaced a wooden structure first erected in the 12th century and renovated several times, became known through the folk song Sur le pont d'Avignon (Eng. On the Bridge of Avignon). The origin of this song, which was originally called Sous (German under) le pont d'Avignon, lies in the time when the bridge still led to the Île de la Barthelasse. took place under the arches of the bridge.

The 14th-century Palais des Papes and the 12th-century Saint-Bénézet bridge are UNESCO World Heritage sites.



The city of Avignon has 26 parks and public gardens, totaling around two hundred hectares of green space.

Gardens and parks include:
Jardin du Rocher des Doms
Square Agricol Perdiguier
Garden of Carmes
Square Saint Ruf
Square Louis Gross
Parc Chico Mendes


Cultural institutions

Avignon has several cinemas, including two Utopia cinemas and two independent cinemas (Art et Essai, Cinéma de recherche). The first consists of four rooms and is located at La Manutention, the second has only one room and is located on Rue de la République.

The city also has numerous theatres, an opera and several art galleries.



Avignon has 12 libraries with a total of more than 500,000 books. The most important of these is the Ceccano Mediatheque, set up in the Cardinal's Palace of Ceccano and housing more than 250,000 media units (books, manuscripts, prints). Of particular importance are valuable manuscripts from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and a collection of religious iconography.



In addition to the Palais des Papes and its many buildings, the city of Avignon has several small museums offering different collections:

Musée Calvet, important art museum in the city (collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, objets d'art) supported by the Calvet Foundation
Musée du Petit Palais, offers exceptional collections of paintings from the Italian Primitives and the Avignon School
Lapidarium, offers ancient collections
Requien Museum (Natural History Museum)
Hôtel de Caumont, with the Lambert collection
Other museums include the Musée de l'Œuvre, Musée du Mont-de-piété, Palais du Roure, Maison Jean-Vilar (belonging to the National Library of France), Musée Angladon and the Musée Louis-Vouland



In the 14th century there was a grand premiere of a mystery play performed in a native language. On November 27, 1372, Philippe de Mézières, in consultation with Pope Gregory XI, had a performance entitled Legenda Presentationis Beate Maria performed in the Franciscan Cordeliers Church in Avignon. Before the mass there were pageants and processions, with musicians dressed as angels and singing actors performing a Provençal play called ad exitandum populum ad devotionem.

The theatrical performances had changed style over time and from now on were also to be played inside. They were recorded in the Jeu-de-Paume hall by Sieur Daniel Herbouillet, rue de la Bouquerie. This was then sold to Nicolas Mignard, who had Molière to visit there between 1655 and 1658.

The Avignon Comedy Theater was the first building in the city specifically constructed for the staging of plays. It was put into operation from 1734 to 1824, designed by Thomas Lainée. One of the directors was Fabre d'Églantine. According to the Englishman James Butler, then Duke of Ormonde, it was the most beautiful theater in France:

"To make the city even more pleasant, I helped build a theater hall that is certainly the funniest in France. It attracts country theater companies and we then have comedy shows for more than six months of the year.”
– James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde

It was replaced by a new theater built on the Place de l'Horloge in place of the disused Benedictine monastery of Saint-Laurent. The first performance was given on October 30, 1825. Destroyed by fire on January 30, 1846, it was rebuilt on the same site and completed in 1847. Joseph Girard, curator of the Musée Calvet, considered it the most outstanding 19th-century building in Avignon.


Avignon Festival

The Avignon Festival has been held every July since 1947, with numerous theatrical, dance and song performances. In addition to the "in" performances sponsored by public institutions, there are also hundreds of "off" performances by private theater groups. During the festival, the streets come alive, especially rue des Terniers, Place d'Horloge and Palais des Papes square.

In the 1940s, as part of a modern art exhibition held in the Grand Chapel of the Palais des Papes, the art critic Christian Zervos and the poet René Char asked the actor, director and theater manager Jean Vilar to perform Murder in the Cathedral, staged in 1945. Having failed to live up to expectations, Vilar proposed three other first productions: The Tragedy of King Richard II (Shakespeare), a play little recognized in France, La Terrasse de midi by the also unknown author Maurice Clavel and The Story of Tobias and Sarah by Paul Claudel.

After consultation with the municipality, the main courtyard of the Papal Palace became the setting for the event Une semaine d'Art en Avignon, which took place from September 4th to 10th, 1947 and from which the festival developed. 4800 spectators initially experienced seven events in three different locations (Court of Honor of the Papal Palace, City Theater, Pope Urban V's orchard).

In addition to the big festival, the city offers numerous other events:

Les Hivernales d'Avignon (contemporary dance festival)
Avignon/New York & Avignon Film Festivals (Euro-American film gathering, independent film festival)
Avignon Jazz Festival



Sport in Avignon takes place in an organized form as a mass sport in around 120 clubs.

Like all major French cities, Avignon has numerous sports facilities (several stadiums and municipal baths, ice rinks, bowling centers, golf courses, dōjōs, etc.). A variety of sports can be practiced on the facilities, whether public or private. The major sports venues in the city are the Parc des Sports, the Stade de Saint-Ruf, the Cosec Moretti, the Palais Omnisports Champfleury, the Palais de la Glace (Ice Palace) and the Hippodrome Roberty.

The municipality of Avignon is also the birthplace of some sports personalities such as the Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi or the footballer Cédric Carrasso, who played in the youth department of Avignon Football 84 before moving to Olympique Marseille.

Numerous sporting events are organized every year, such as the Tour des Remparts or the 10 km de la Cité des Papes, but also football tournaments, boules, boxing, gymnastics, rugby, rock 'n' roll (dance), in-line skating events, etc.



When the Palais des Papes was built in the mid-fourteenth century, Italian artists such as Simone Martini and Mateo Giovanetti came to Avignon. To train young French painters, they founded the Avignon School, which is considered the starting point of Renaissance painting in France and painters such as B. Enguerrand Quarton produced. One of the most important works is the Pietà from Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, which today hangs in the Louvre.



Avignon was considered the center of the Félibrige movement. Théodore Aubanel and Joseph Roumanille lived in the city. Frédéric Mistral studied here and published his Mireia. For this reason, Avignon is often referred to as the "brain of the Félibrige". Félix Gras lived on the rue Sainte-Praxède, which now bears his name, very close to his brother-in-law's library on the rue Saint Agricol, and was considered "the undisputed leader of the second Félibrige generation". At the founding meeting of the movement in Font-Ségugne, the members decided to publish a magazine, the first issue of which was called l'Armana prouvençau pèr lou bèl an de Diéu 1855, adouba e publica de la man di felibre. The magazines were first printed in Avignon until the middle of the 20th century, and later in the Bouches-du-Rhône department. From 1891 to 1899 the movement also published the weekly newspaper L'Aïoli, journal hebdomadaire, édité à Avignon, Palais du Roure.


Culinary specialties


The "real" Avignonese gastronomy is typically Mediterranean and is particularly characterized by the use of olive oil, onions and a wide range of aromatic herbs. The use of olive or other oil is also typical of Occitan cuisine, unlike that of northern France, which mainly uses butter.

With a wide variety of recipes, Avignon is also represented in Provençal cuisine. A lot of vegetables are used, especially legumes such as lentils, beans, chickpeas, but also tomatoes, artichokes, aubergines and courgettes. Characteristic of Provence is the use of cereals such as spelled, but also spices such as garlic and thyme. The typically Provençal can be found in numerous local dishes that are still prepared today by the Avignonese: daube, aioli, ratatouille, spelled soup, etc.

There are at least five typical Avignonese specialties which, while not exclusive to the Avignon area, nonetheless have a clear Avignonese identity. Traditional specialties include steamed allis shad, Avignonese stave, papeton d'aubergine, the crespeou and the berlingots. Modern specialties include the navarin en avignonaise (lamb stew with oranges, olives and vegetables) and the papaline d'Avignon (a dessert consisting of oregano liqueur encased in chocolate coatings).



During the papal period of Avignon, the Vinea Vespalis ("Bishop's Vineyard") on the Plain-de-Lunel was one of the most famous wine-growing areas within the city walls. It belonged to the canons of Avignon until July 11, 1364. On that date, Pope Urban V allowed his brother Anglic de Grimoard to dispose of the vineyard at his own will. In a bull, the pope authorized him to exempt his vassals on the Vinea Vespalis from all tax burdens and expropriated the cathedral chapter of his vines in order to grant them to his youngest brother. The other vineyards are located in the eastern "Grands Jardins" district, an undeveloped area between the city walls, and in southern Champfleury, which served as a plague cemetery in 1348.

But these vines, which were cultivated as high vines, have long been sufficient to supply the papal city. Each pope supplied himself with local wines as well as other wines that had come to Avignon via the river route. Finally, a vineyard called Grand Avignon was planted. In the Comtat Venaissin, the wines of Malaucène, Bédarrides, Valréas, Carpentras, Apt and of course Châteauneuf-du-Pape prevailed. Vineyards from the Languedoc such as Saint-Gilles, Tavel, Bagnols-sur-Cèze or Villeneuve-lès-Avignon supplied the papal wine cellars. Wines from Manosque, Toulon and Saint-Rémy came to Provence. Certain types of wine came up or down the Rhone, such as the Cante-Perdrix, the famous Beaucaire wine, the Clos de Vougeot and the Hermitage.

Avignon currently lays claim to the title of “Capital of the Côtes du Rhône” as the city is home to the Hôtel de Rochegude, the headquarters of the Inter Rhône, which is the umbrella organization for the wine associations of the Côtes du Rhône and the AOC de la vallée du Rhône.


Getting in

By plane
Marseille Airport (IATA: MRS) is easily accessible with connections to numerous international destinations. Low-cost connections are handled in the new Terminal MP2. From there it is about 80 kilometers to Avignon, which takes one to one and a half hours by train (change trains twice) to the center of Avignon.

From Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport (IATA: LYS), 240 kilometers away, where various direct connections from German-speaking countries land, there are direct TGVs that reach Avignon TGV train station in less than an hour, Avignon-Centre in one and a half hours.

Aéroport Avignon - Provence Airport (IATA: AVN) is located southwest of the city center. There are no regular flight connections as of 2020, it is used for general aviation.

By train
Avignon TGV train station, 4 kilometers south of the city centre. The high-speed trains from Paris (2:45 hours) - Lyon - Valence and on to Marseille or Nîmes - Montpellier, which require reservations, stop there. There are also individual direct connections from Geneva (a good 3 hours), Basel (4:45 hours) or Strasbourg, and even once a day from Frankfurt am Main (a good 7 hours). From the TGV train station you can get to the city center by bus or regional train (TER).
Train station for intercity and regional trains: Gare Avignon Centre, on Bvd Saint Roch near the old town. Selected (not quite as fast) TGVs also stop there.

By bus
The local transport company ORIZO ensures public transport in the city itself as well as in the region.

On the street
The city can be reached from the A7 Rhône Valley motorway (Paris - Lyon - Avignon - Marseille) via the symbol: AS 23 Avignon Nord and via the symbol: AS 24 Avignon-Sud, from the A9 (Orange - Nîmes) west of the Rhône via the symbol: AS 23 Remoulins and from there on the N100 via Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.

The D570N heads south, towards Tarascon - Arles - Camargue.

Parking is best outside the old town ring around the Boulevard Saint-Roch resp. the arterial roads, in the walled old town area the streets are narrow and parking spaces are sparse. From the north you can park under the Palais des Papes, from the free car park on the Ile de Piot there is also a free shuttle bus that runs at frequent intervals.

By boat
Transport and Rhône cruise ships occasionally dock at the docks, and there is a free ferry service from the Quai de la Ligne across to the Ile de la Barthelasse.


Get around

The local transport company ORIZO ensures public transport in the city itself as well as in the region. After a tram had existed until the 1930s, the first new line of a tram for local public transport was opened in 2019, which is to be gradually expanded and supplemented by a second line.



Marché des Halles, Place Pie. Tel.: +33 (0)4 90 27 15 15. Offer of fresh local produce. Open: Tue-Sun, from 6.00 a.m. Edit info
The Marché aux Fleurs every Saturday morning on the Place des Carmes.
On Sunday mornings 08.00-13.00 the Marché aux Puces (traditional flea market) is also held on the Place des Carmes.



The origins of the Université d'Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse date back to 1303. After the university was closed in 1793, it was reopened in 1963/64 with the faculties of natural sciences and literature.



As everywhere in southern France, the security situation is largely unproblematic. Valuables should not be left in the vehicle because of car break-ins. In the crowded markets (and everywhere where tourists throng) there is a risk of pickpocketing.



Center Hospitalier Avignon, located in the south of the city and has a developed emergency care.


Practical hints

Office de Tourisme d'Avignon, 41, cours Jean Jaures. Tel.: +33 4 32743274, fax: +33 4 90 82 95 03, email: information@ot-avignon.fr.
La Poste, Cours du President Kennedy, by the bus station.




Avignon is located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Durance, which flows along the south of the municipality and also forms the border with the Bouches-du-Rhône department. The Rhône is to the west of the municipality and forms the border with the Gard department.


Neighboring communities

To the east and north are the municipalities of Caumont-sur-Durance, Morières-lès-Avignon, Le Pontet and Sorgues.

To the west, Avignon borders on the communes of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Les Angles, which belong to the Gard department, while to the south lies the Bouches-du-Rhône department with the communes of Barbentane, Rognonas, Châteaurenard and Noves.

The nearest major cities are Orange (to the north), Nîmes and Montpellier (to the south-west), Arles (to the south), Salon-de-Provence and Marseille (to the south-east).



The region in which Avignon is located is very rich in limestone. The "molasse burdigalienne", from which the current city wall of Avignon was built, is particularly common.

The most important calcareous elevation of the Urgonian type is the Rocher des Doms within the city walls. The calcareous massif is distributed around the commune (Massif des Angles, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Alpilles) and is partly the result of the oceanization of the Ligurian-Provençal depression that followed the movement of the Corsican-Sardinian continental block.

Another elevation of Avignon is the wooded hill of Montfavet to the east of the commune.

The Rhône Valley has old alluvial soils: much of the soil there is covered by a loose deposit made up of sandy silt. This is more or less colored by pebbles, mainly made of silicate rock. The islands of the Rhône, including the Île de la Barthelasse, were formed by the accumulation of alluvial deposits and human intervention. The relief is not very pronounced, but the mounds that have formed are able to protect the islands adequately in the event of high tide.

The soils around the city are mainly clay, silt, sand and lime.

As evidenced by the appearance of fissures in the calcareous substrate, there have been tectonic activities in different geological ages that have triggered earthquakes. The last earthquake of any significant magnitude occurred on June 11, 1909. Traces of this can still be seen in the city center and most clearly on the bell tower of the Augustinian church on Rue Carreterie, which is slightly tilted as a result of the earthquake.



The Rhône runs along the western outskirts of the city but is divided into two arms: the "little Rhône" or "dead arm" is spoken of for the part that touches Avignon and the "big Rhône" or "living arm" for that western part touching Villeneuve-lès-Avignon in the Gard department. In between are a series of islands, including the Île de la Barthelasse as the largest. A canal was built parallel to the Rhône.

The banks of the Rhône and the Isle of Barthelasse can be affected by flooding during autumn and mid-March. Maurice Champion mentioned some of these in 1861. The 1856 flood, which destroyed part of the city walls, was one of the most devastating. More performed in 1935 and in January 1955. The floods are still a serious problem today, as the floods of December 2, 2003 showed. For this reason a new cartographie du risque was created.

The Durance, which flows along the southern border of the commune, flows into the Rhône and marks the boundary with the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

In the municipality of Avignon there are several natural or artificial bodies of water such as the lac de Saint-Chamond to the east of the city.

The city has numerous canals, some of which can form a complex canal system. The canals have been built over time and were once used to irrigate the fields and to supply the ditches that surrounded Avignon.

In the 10th century, part of the water of the Sorgue d'Entraigues was diverted, which today flows under the city walls to the city center. The watercourses were called "Canal de Vaucluse", but the inhabitants still call them "la Sorgue" or "Sorguette". It is visible in the city center along the Rue des Teinturiers (Cloth Dyers' Alley). It supplied the moats of the first city walls, then the new eastern city walls of the 14th century. In the 13th century (document of 1229), part of the Durance's water was diverted to strengthen the water supply systems of the moats and then channeled to Bonpas. These watercourses were later called "la Durançole". The Durançole supplied the city's western moats. They were also used to irrigate the Montfavet farmland. In the inner city, these watercourses are mostly hidden under the streets or the apartment buildings and today serve as sewers.

Next to it, the Canal de l'Hôpital (which joins the Durançole) and the Canal de Crillon (1775) were dug, which irrigated the areas of Montfavet, Le Pontet and Vedène. The two canals are divided into numerous "vials" (Provençal filhòlas or fiolo). The Canal Puy (1808) was created in the same way, irrigating the former gardens south of Avignon. All of these canals drain the waters of the Durance and were initially used to flood and fertilize the once very rocky soil with the limestone deposits.

The canals were also used to drive numerous mills.



Avignon is influenced by the Mediterranean climate. Precipitation occurs in a rhythm of four phases: two dry seasons (a short one at the end of winter and a very long and pronounced one in summer) and two rainy ones (one in autumn with heavy rain up to downpours and one in spring). The summers are warm and dry under the influence of subtropical high pressure areas, but are interrupted by sometimes violent thunderstorms. Winters are mild with little rainfall and only infrequent snowfall.

According to Météo-France, there are on average 45 days per year with more than 2.5 liters of precipitation per square meter. Overall, the annual rainfall averages 660 l/m². The average temperatures are between 0 °C and 30 °C depending on the season. The record temperatures since INRA station records are 40.5 °C during the 2003 European heatwave on August 5, 2003 (and 39.8 °C on August 18, 2009) and -12.8 °C on August 5. January 1985. The meteorological values were measured in the Agroparc d'Avignon.

The main wind is the Mistral, which can sometimes reach wind speeds of 110 km/h. It blows between 120 and 160 days a year, with an average speed of 90 km/h per gust.


City outline

For historical and strategic reasons, Avignon has developed between the Rhône, which served as the first natural rampart, and the Rocher des Doms, which offers a wide view (or a glimpse of the Palais des Papes). The city has a mostly circular shape, which is expanded in several places. The first city walls appeared in the first century and were gradually modernized according to the needs.



Between 1790 and 1794, Montfavet was incorporated into the municipality of Avignon. After that, Avignon broke away from Morières-lès-Avignon in 1870 and from Le Pontet in 1925.

On May 16, 2007, the municipality of Les Angles in Gard sold thirteen hectares of land to Avignon.



The inner city refers to the part of the city that is inside the city walls and is referred to as intra-muros in French. As a result, the majority of the buildings are very old, but several districts have undergone major changes over the years (rue de la République was dug up during the Second Empire, construction of “Haussmannised” facades, remodeling of the Place de l'Horloge and the current City Hall in neoclassical style , as well as the theater and the quartier de la Balance) and various buildings (post office, Lycée Frédéric-Mistral) were rebuilt.

In the 1960s, at the time of the establishment of the Secteurs sauvegardés (urban protection zones), Avignon became the subject of an important debate. The then mayor proposed a radical renovation of the quartier de la Balance, in which about two-thirds of the buildings would be demolished without regard to monument protection. A compromise solution was finally found, in which part of the quarter was actually completely rebuilt. Only the area near the Palais des Papes was spared and received a real restoration.



In contrast to the city center with its narrow streets and large stock of old buildings, the outskirts (extra muros) are characterized by modern architecture. There are the following quarters:

to the north: Saint Jean Grange d'Orel, Reine Jeanne, Neuf Peyre
in the south: Saint Chamand, la Rocade Charles de Gaulle, La Croix des oiseaux, Les Sources
to the east: Pont-des-deux-eaux, La Croisière
to the west: Louis Gros, Champfleury, Monclar




The settlement of the area around Avignon dates back to the Neolithic period, to the fourth millennium BC. First traces of settlement could be detected on the steep rocky hill Rocher des Doms, which protected the inhabitants from enemies as well as from regular floods of the Rhône.

A little later, the Celtoligur warriors and fishermen of the Kavaren founded a first fortified settlement called Aouenion, which means something like "Lord of the Waters".

Thanks to its favorable strategic location, the Phocaeans of Marseille built a fortified river port and a goods transshipment point (emporion) called Avenio in the sixth or fifth century BC, which was mainly intended to receive goods shipped downstream. The new name means something like "City of mighty winds" and is also found on coins.

Under the from 48 B.C. At the beginning of Roman rule, the river port was expanded and the city was renamed Colonia Iulia Augusta Avenionesium. In addition, the city expanded into a thriving community. Emperor Hadrian gave it the status of a Roman colony.

Little remains of the Roman city. Only parts of a columned hall and a forum still bear witness to the ancient architecture. Most of the buildings were probably destroyed or built over during the time of the popes.


Early and High Middle Ages

Christianization may have been completed at the end of the third century. A small Christian community existed outside the city walls, which is considered to be the forerunner of the Abbey of Saint-Ruf.

Avignon lost its importance during the migration of peoples. Wars and epidemics led to a decline in the population, so that only a small area around the Rocher des Doms remained inhabited. In 737 the city allied itself with the Saracens who were invading Provence. In retaliation, the Battle of Avignon was conquered by Charles Martell's troops, who burned the city to the ground.

Then came the development of feudalism and a long period of peace. The rule of the city was divided between the bishop, who had his own palace next to the cathedral, and the Count of Provence, who resided on the top of the Rocher des Doms.

In 932, the kingdoms of Provence and Haut-Burgundy became the Kingdom of Arelat, in which Avignon became one of the most important cities. With the incorporation of the Kingdom of Arles into the Holy Roman Empire in 1032, Avignon and Provence came under the German Emperor. From now on, the Rhône formed the new western border of the empire to the kingdom of France and could only be crossed over the old wooden bridge at Avignon.

In the twelfth century, Avignon achieved the status of a self-governing city-republic based on the Italian model. During this time, the first ring of walls and the St. Bénézet Bridge were built, with which the city developed into an important transit point in southern France.

At the time of the Albigensian Wars, the city fought on the side of the Albigensians and refused King Louis VIII passage in 1226, which led to the siege of Avignon. Avignon was starved for three weeks and eventually had to surrender. The fortifications were destroyed and the bridge was severely damaged.

Around 1250, Ludwig's brother Charles I of Anjou abolished municipal self-government and put the city back under count rule. From 1290 it belonged to the Count of Provence Charles II of Anjou, who was also King of Naples and a loyal vassal of the Church.

As early as 1303, before the arrival of the popes, Pope Boniface VIII founded the University of Avignon in competition with the Sorbonne in Paris.


Avignon Papacy

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, power struggles in Rome led to Avignon becoming the seat of the popes and thus the capital of Christianity for seventy years. After the brief pontificate of Benedict XI, who died in 1304. his successor Clemens V. had himself crowned as the first pope on French soil with the support of the French king Philip the Handsome. After the coronation in Lyon, the papal residence was first transferred to the county of Venaissin, which had been papal property since the end of the Albigensian Crusade. In 1309 the move to Avignon took place. Clement's successor, John XXII, previously bishop of Avignon, initially took up his permanent seat in the bishop's palace. Benedict XII, a highly educated Cistercian, had the first part of the Papal Palace (Old Palace) built. Clemens VI, who was considered a lover of pomp and art, built the New Palace. In addition, in 1348 he bought the city from Joanna I of Naples for 80,000 gold guilders, thereby incorporating Avignon into the Papal States. Innocent VI, who ruled from 1352 to 1362, owes the current city wall.

Urban V. tried to return to Italy, but only Pope Gregory XI. succeeded in asserting itself against the French king and in 1377 moved the seat back to Rome. He received moral support from Catherine of Siena, who helped him end his exile. Since the French cardinals with the election of his successor Urban VI. were dissatisfied, they elected Clement VII as anti-pope, who again exercised his office from Avignon. With this election, the Great Western Schism began, which led to the split in the Catholic Church and only ended with the Council of Constance in 1414. As the last pope, Benedict XIII practiced. from 1394 to 1417 his pontificate in Avignon. A total of seven Roman popes resided in the city, as well as two anti-popes who were not recognized by the Catholic Church.

The relocation of the papal seat to Avignon was to have a lasting effect on the cityscape. The mighty papal palace was built and a defensive wall around the city. There were also Gothic churches, monasteries and towers as well as impressive cardinal liveries. The new papal court became one of the most splendid courts of the Middle Ages. The boom in the city began at the same time as the papacy. Avignon became an intellectual, artistic and cultural center. Many people flocked to the city in the wake of the popes, including cardinals, clergy, nobles, artisans, and merchants. But architects, sculptors and artists were also attracted, such as the Italian painters Matteo Giovanetti and Simone Martini or the poet Francesco Petrarca. Around 30,000 people are said to have lived in the city at the time, making Avignon one of the largest cities in Western Europe.

However, not everyone was able to benefit equally from the new wealth. While the cardinals and nobles in particular lived in splendor and prosperity within the city walls, the poor outer quarters of the city were inhabited by more and more beggars, day laborers and prostitutes. The poor hygienic conditions favored the outbreak of the plague in 1349, which cost the lives of around 11,000 people. In addition, the population suffered from droughts, famines and roaming marauding soldiers of the Hundred Years' War.


Early modern age

After the departure of the last anti-pope at the beginning of the fifteenth century, Avignon and the county of Venaissin remained under the administration of a papal envoy. When Provence fell to the Kingdom of France in 1481, the city even had the status of a papal enclave on French soil.

Avignon was not spared from the Huguenot wars raging in France. After Protestants destroyed numerous church properties in Orange, papal troops were sent from Avignon to the city and carried out a massacre there. In retaliation, Avignon was besieged in 1562 by the Baron des Adrets.

In the centuries that followed, until the French Revolution, Avignon experienced a peaceful period in which new houses, churches, monuments and hotels were built. An exception was the outbreak of the Great Plague in 1721, which decimated the city of 24,000 to a quarter of its population.


French Revolution to 21st Century

In Provence, the French Revolution took place primarily in the large cities of Marseille, Aix, Arles and Avignon. In 1790, Provence was divided into departments. For the formation of the Vaucluse department, a rapid annexation of the papal territories to France was demanded in the course of the onset of de-Christianization, which led to a counter-revolution in Avignon that was loyal to the pope. However, this was unsuccessful. In 1791, revolutionary troops annexed Avignon and the county of Venaissin, which lost their special status. In 1793 Avignon became the capital of the newly created department of Vaucluse. Many architectural and artistic monuments in the city were destroyed during the revolutionary struggles.

At the time of the Second Empire, the cityscape was further changed. The Rue de la République was widened, the Place Pie enlarged and pleasure gardens laid out at the Rocher des Doms. An American air raid on May 27, 1944 killed 300 people.



With 90,597 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020), Avignon is the largest city in the Vaucluse department and the 44th largest city in France. With a land area of 64.78 km², this corresponds to a population density of 1399 inhabitants per km². Annual population growth is 0.3% (average 1999-2020). The urban settlement zone (Unité urbaine) of Avignon had 440,770 inhabitants in 2008, the municipal area (Aire urbaine) 507,626 inhabitants.

From 1793 to 1911 the population increased steadily from 24,000 to 49,304. The First World War caused an initial slight decline in population. After the Second World War, an increase in the population could be observed, which was mainly due to the influx of many European settlers from Algeria (Pieds-noirs). In addition, the immigration initially mainly from Italy, in the last decades from North Africa, v. a. Morocco and Turkey. Stagnation set in between 1975 and 2000. A wide variety of causes (service offerings, quality of life, tax burdens ...) could explain the loss of attractiveness of the community, the emigration of its residents and the settlement in surrounding communities. The city, whose main source of income is tourism, is one of the poorer and structurally weaker of French cities; unemployment is close to 22%. Recently, the emigration could be partially counteracted by improving the infrastructure such as the construction of the TGV train station or by inner-city rehabilitation and development projects.



Sacred buildings

Due to the strong Catholic presence in the past centuries, the number of sacred buildings that are interesting from an architectural point of view is high. There is a cathedral, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms, and numerous churches:
Saint Didier
Saint Pierre
Saint Symphorien
Celestine Church
Saint Joseph de la Barthelasse
Saint Ruf Abbey
Sacre Coeur
Saint Paul
Saint Joseph travailleur
Saint Jean
Notre Dame de Lourdes
Notre Dame de la Paix
Chapelle des Penitents gris
Chapelle des Penitents noirs

The Jewish religion has been practiced in the Avignon synagogue for several centuries. The synagogue was destroyed after a major fire in 1845 and completely reconstructed a year later by the architect Joseph-Auguste Joffroy.

The only Protestant church is the Temple Saint-Martial. The city also has a Greek Orthodox church building, the Saints Cosme et Damien church.

Historically quite recent is the Mosque de la Rocade, the Mosque of Monclar and a Turkish mosque. While most of the Catholic buildings are within the city walls, the mosques are only on the outskirts.

There are also branches of Jehovah's Witnesses (near the Montfavet neighborhood), the Church of Scientology, the Lao Evangelical Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



There are four cemeteries in Avignon:
the Saint-Véran cemetery, laid out in 1820, covers 12 hectares and houses 12,000 tombs. Since 1999 there has been a columbarium in the cemetery, intended for burial urns. At the heart of the graveyard is a memorial to fallen Harkis.
the Montfavet cemetery extends over seven hectares and houses 4000 tombs, including that of Camille Claudel. The cemetery also accommodates other religious communities (Jews, Muslims).
the Barthelasse Cemetery currently has 125 tombs on exactly 2000 m²
the cemetery of Saint-Roch (12th century) is the oldest. It extends over an area of approximately 2000 m². The site belongs to the lands of the Jewish community and is not open to the public.


Politics and administration

Avignon is the prefecture of the Vaucluse department, the arrondissement of Avignon and the seat of the Communauté d'agglomération du Grand Avignon.


Political tendencies

Avignon's political life is predominantly conservative. In the 2007 general election, the conservative UMP candidate Marie-Josée Roig, who was also mayor of the city until 2014, won 55.52% of the votes (vs. 56.71% for the entire constituency, the first constituency of Vaucluse). In the 2007 presidential elections, Nicolas Sarkozy secured 52.02% of the votes in the second round, while in the first round he secured 30.44% of the votes (versus 28.68% for Ségolène Royal).

Avignon residents voted 59.49% no in the 2005 referendum on the European Constitution. 51.85% had rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. In the 2009 European elections, Françoise Grossetête (UMP) won with 25.39% ahead of Michèle Rivasi of Europe Écologie (18.17%), the socialist Vincent Peillon (16.52%), the candidate of the National Front Jean-Marie Le Pen ( 10.61%) and others who have not reached the 10%. Voter turnout was 38.76%. In the 2012 presidential elections, residents of Avignon voted 30.87% for the candidate of the Socialist Party, François Hollande, while Nicolas Sarkozy received only 23.12% of the votes and Marine Le Pen 20.51%. In the second ballot, Hollande got 54.92% versus 45.08 for Sarkozy.

In the local elections in France in 2014, the Social Democrats were able to recapture the Avignon town hall, contrary to the nationwide trend: the list of the Parti socialiste led by Cécile Helle achieved 47.5% of the votes (40 seats) in the second ballot, the list of the Front National by Philippe Lottiaux came second with 35% (9 seats), while Bernard Chaussegros' UMP only managed 17.5% (4 seats).


City administration

In addition to the town hall, Avignon has eight town halls.

Avignon is the prefecture of Vaucluse and therefore has numerous administrative buildings, in particular the Departmental Archives of Vaucluse, which like all departmental archives were created in 1796, or the Center départemental de documentation pedagogique du Vaucluse.


Household income and taxation

In 2007, the average tax revenue per household was €13,545, ranking Avignon 28,198 out of 30,714 French communes with more than 50 households.


Budget 2007

The budget of February 15, 2007 for the year 2007 planned with a total of 218.7 million euros.

With an operating sum of €150.4 million, the municipality thought of self-financing of €19.7 million.

The net income breaks down as follows:
€53.9 million in taxes and fees
€44.5m Grand Avignon
€43.4 million in government grants
€8.2 million remaining income

Since 1996, housing tax has decreased (from 22.41 to 19.24) and property tax for undeveloped land (from 62.36 to 55.18). The property tax for built-up areas remained the same (25.64).

Operating expenses break down as follows:
€67.3 million in personnel and related costs
€29.5 million in subsidies and quotas
€23.9 million purchase of goods and services
€9.7 million financial expenses
€0.2 million remaining expenses



In 2002, Avignon was the top crime statistic for French cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants, with 173.35 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants. Only in a few smaller towns like Saint-Tropez were there more crimes per capita. In 2009, Avignon, with 120 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants, was in second place among cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants (after Saint-Denis).

In 2005, the social unrest in the French suburbs, which had started in the Paris area, also spread to Avignon. In October 2010, twelve Islamists were arrested in France, including some in Avignon. They planned to smuggle jihadists into France.


Environmental policy

Potential natural and technological hazards to the community include: flooding (and mudslides), landslides, dam failures, earthquakes and hazardous material shipments.

In its January 2003 issue, Ça m'interesse magazine published a ranking of waste sorting in the largest cities in France, with Avignon taking first place. In seven years, the city more than tripled the amount of separate waste it collected, from about 1,000 tons in 1996 to 3,190 tons in 2003.

Ten garbage collection points are available to the Avignonese, four of them in the city center and six in the outskirts.

Since May 2003, a municipal police "environmental squad" has been tasked with prosecuting illegal dumping of rubbish, graffiti sprayers and noise harassers.

The Communauté d'agglomération du Grand Avignon is responsible for the treatment and disposal of household waste. There is also a dedicated facility for waste originating from industry and commerce in the greater Avignon area.


Radioactivity monitoring

Avignon is equipped with an airborne radioactivity monitoring station because it is located south of two vulnerable sites located upstream on the Rhône: 70 km away is the Tricastin nuclear plant and the Pierrelatte uranium enrichment plant and around 30 km away is the decommissioned Marcoule nuclear power plant. The city is also equipped with a water balise to monitor water radioactivity in the Rhône.


Air quality

An air quality indicator (“ATMO”) is measured over the city on a daily basis. On average, the air is rated “good” or “very good” 60 percent of the time, “medium” or “insufficient” 38 percent and only 2 percent “poor”. These results are favored by the Mistral acting as a diffuser.


Noise abatement

In the municipality of Avignon, the authorities of the Service environnement hygiène santé (Environmental Service for Hygiene and Health) and the municipal police are responsible for combating noise. To combat noise, several measures have been taken so far: the adoption of a municipal ordinance, warnings subject to charges, the erection of noise barriers, the purchase of electric vehicles, etc. The main source of noise pollution is the Avignon-Caumont airport, particularly due to its aerobatic operations. In October 2001, after six years of negotiations, the ADRAC association (association de defense des riverains de l'aérodrome de Châteaublanc) signed a "charter of good behavior" with other partners (Aéroclub Vauclusien, City of Avignon, etc.). However, during the flying club's spring 2009 open house, the presence of a Tucano prompted a community of residents to complain again about the aircraft, including the aerobatic pilots, who had not flown at the flying club for three years.

In January 2005, the fourth conference for the qualité de l'environnement sonore (quality of environmental noise) was held in Avignon.


Motto and logo

The motto is Unguibus et rostro, literally meaning "beak and claws" (à bec et à griffes), similar to the French idiom à bec et ongles.

The city's logo shows part of the Pont Saint-Bénézet with AVIGNON written in capital letters above it. It is a blurred, distorted photograph of the bridge, which has an unusually elongated arch. The yellow ocher color contrasts with the sky and the water of the Rhone, the bridge can be identified by its chapel. There are several versions. The slogan "VILLE D'ESPRIT" can be written at the bottom under the bridge.


Patron saint

Throughout its history, the city of Avignon has received several patron saints. Statues of these saints were erected in the eighteenth century when the banks of the Rhône were remodeled.

Saint Ruf: considered the founder of the Church of Avignon.
Saint Marthe
Peter of Luxembourg: Patron of Avignon since 1432, beatified in 1527. The Saint-Didier church has relics of his body.
Saint Agricol: born in Avignon in 627 to Saint Magne, bishop of the city. He was declared patron saint of the city in 1647 by Archbishop César Argelli.
Saint-Bénézet, died in Avignon in 1184.


Economy and Infrastructure

Around 7,000 companies, 1,500 associations, 1,700 shops and 1,300 service providers are located in Avignon, employing more than 35,000 people. From 1999 to 2010, the unemployment rate was around 22%. Slightly less than a third of all employees are white-collar workers, manual workers and employees in non-technical occupations each make up around 25%. Around 10% are managers or can be assigned to the education sector. Artisans, traders and managers make up around 6%, with less than 1% working in agriculture. There are only two industrial companies with more than 100 employees: EDF (Grand Delta) with about 850 employees and Onet Propreté with just over 300 employees. The tertiary sector is by far the most dynamic in the department.

Avignon is the seat of the Vaucluse Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This manages the airport of Avignon and the commercial port of Le Pontet.

There are nine large business parks (zone d'activité) in Avignon. The main business park is in Courtine and is home to almost 300 companies (half of which are service companies, one third commercial, and the rest industrial) employing 3600 people. The area covers an area of 300 hectares and is located south-east of the commune, near the TGV train station. Behind is the Courtine business park with about 100 companies and 1000 employees. However, the area is mostly commercial based compared to Courtine. The industrial park of the Marché d'intérêt national (MIN), the Agroparc (or "Technopole Agroparc") and the industrial park of Christole are adjacent and each host a little less than 100 businesses. There is an INRA center in the area, which has been conducting scientific research for forest and cropland since 1953, specializing in environmental engineering and environmental project planning. The districts of Castelette, Croix de Noves, Realpanier and the airport each have less than 25 establishments, divided between services and trade.

A free economic zone has been set up south of Avignon, in which companies located there have to pay fewer taxes and social security contributions. It is located between the ramparts and the Durance, in the Croix Rouge, Monclar, Saint-Chamand and Rocade districts.

With regard to the cultivation of fresh vegetables in the Vaucluse department, the Marché d'intérêt national pushed the local markets of the department into the background and became a structural pole for the trade. In the years 1980-1990, the development of goods traffic between northern and southern Europe strengthened Avignon's position as a logistics hub and favored the emergence of transport and logistics companies.



Several newspaper agencies are based in Avignon: La Provence, Vaucluse Matin, Hebdo Vaucluse, Midi Libre, La Marseillaise, Petites affiches de Vaucluse, Actualités Avignon, Vu sur le pont, but also the free magazines Bonjour 84 and Plus Hebdo.

Both local and national radio stations broadcast from the city: Chérie FM (88.1 MHz), France Bleu Vaucluse (98.8 MHz), Virgin Radio (formerly Europe 2) (89.0 MHz), Nostalgie Vaucluse (102.8 MHz), NRJ Vaucluse (98.2 MHz), RAJE Avignon (90.3 MHz), RCF Radio Lumières (104.0 MHz) and RFM Vaucluse (95.9 MHz). For television, France 3's Vauclusian studio broadcasts.



Four million visitors stay in Avignon every year to visit the city, the region or the festival. This makes the city, along with the Luberon and Mont Ventoux, one of the main tourist centers in the Vaucluse department. In 2010, almost half of all hotel overnight stays in Avignon were booked. At the festival time in July almost all hotels are fully booked.

Since 1976, the International Congress Center has occupied two wings of the Papal Palace. Ten reception and work rooms are available for events. The large prestige halls Grand Tinel and Grande Audience in the visitor area of the palace are used in addition to the meeting rooms for organizing cocktail parties, gala dinners, exhibitions, etc.



Thanks to its location on the Rhône and its proximity to larger cities such as Marseille or Nîmes, Avignon has good transport links. It is connected to the Autoroute A7 (E714) (also called Autoroute du soleil) with the two junctions: "Avignon Nord" and "Avignon sud", and the Autoroute A9 (E15) with the junction Remoulins.

The main main roads are the Route Nationale 100, which continues east towards L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and west towards Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Remoulins to join the A9 after 20 km. Route Nationale 7 heads east, then splits into a dual carriageway to the north and rejoins Route départementale 225.

The city offers seven metered parking lots and provides two free monitored park-and-ride lots with a capacity of 1200 spaces, with free shuttles running to the center of the city.

From October 2019, Avignon will again have a tram. From 1889 to 1932, a meter-gauge tram operated in the greater Avignon area.

Avignon is accessible via two train stations: the historic Avignon-Centre station, built in 1860, is on the Paris-Marseille line outside the city center and can be served by any type of train. In 2001, the Avignon TGV station was completed in the Courtine zone, three kilometers south of the city center for the LGV Méditerranée high-speed line. It can be reached by TGV from Paris (Gare de Lyon) non-stop in 2 hours and 40 minutes and from Lyon (Part Dieu) non-stop in 1 hour 10 minutes. Other direct connections exist, e.g. to Marseille, Brussels, Strasbourg, Geneva and Frankfurt am Main. In the summer months, a pair of Thalys trains also runs once a week from Amsterdam to Marseille.

Avignon Airport is located eight kilometers south-east of the city and is served by various British airports. The airport handles approximately 80,000 passengers per year. Marseille Airport is 80 km to the south and Montpellier Airport is 90 km to the south-west.

The Rhône has served as an important transport route for the city for centuries. Water traffic in Avignon benefits from two commercial ports, from docking for cruise ships. A free water taxi is also available on site.

Avignon has 145 kilometers of cycle paths and, in July 2009, was equipped with a bicycle system, the Vélopop. The Vélopop is managed by the TCRA (Les Transports en Commun de la Région d'Avignon), the transport network of the municipalities in the greater Avignon area.


Public sector

The largest employers in the commune are the Henri Duffaut hospital centre, Avignon town hall and the Montfavet clinic, each with 2000 employees. Next comes the General Council of Vaucluse with about 1300 employees.



Avignon benefits from 27 public kindergartens, 34 public primary schools, and five private kindergartens and primary schools. The school canteens distribute about 4000 meals a day. There are a total of nine public and four private comprehensive schools in the municipality, as well as eight public and four private high schools, including the Lycée Frédéric-Mistral.

In terms of vocational schools, Avignon has nine CFAs from different origins (food industry, Avignon and Vaucluse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vaucluse Chamber of Crafts, construction industry, Center de ressources de techniques avancées (CRTA)) and a wide range of offers, including 24 schools and institutions added for education and training.

The Conservatoire de danse du Grande Avignon offers courses in dance, music and acting. The École d'art d'Avignon, a city art school, is only accessible by an entrance exam and teaches different areas of visual arts (drawing, painting, spatial staging, photography, video, multimedia), cultural history, contemporary art history and scientific approach to art (science and art, physics and chemistry).


University of Avignon

The University of Avignon teaches about 7600 students. It brings together four UFR, an IUT and an IUP and primarily offers academic courses in the fields of culture, agricultural science and computer science.

Founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, it was subsequently promoted by Charles II, King of Sicily and Count of Provence. The university held its ground for almost 500 years and was closed by decree on September 15, 1793. Avignon became academic again in 1963 with the opening of a scientific college center. A year later, a university center for philology opened.

The two institutions originally belonged to the University of Aix-Marseille and merged in 1972 to form an academic center that became a full university on 17 July 1984 under the name Université d'Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse (independent of the University of Aix-Marseille) . At that time, three UFR (Humanities, Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences and Linguistics) shared 2000 students. The law, as the fourth branch, emerged from a law faculty housed in an annex of the University of Aix-Marseille III. A University of Applied Sciences (IUT) followed in 1990 and an IUP in 1992.

In order to avoid a too wide distribution of students (ten locations in 1991) and to liven up the city center, it was decided to bring together the various educational institutions in one location and also to accommodate the community facilities (especially the libraries and canteens) there. The former Sainte-Marthe hospital served as the new location, where the first lectures were held in 1997.



Avignon is home to the main health facilities in Vaucluse, including the department's only children's emergency room. The two largest clinics in the commune are the Hospital Center of Avignon “Henri Duffaut” and the Hospital Center of Montfavet.

The Avignon Clinic sees itself as an institution with a nursing mandate (providing medical emergency assistance, implementing public health measures) and is also responsible for research, teaching and training. The Montfavet Clinic is primarily a psychiatric hospital and has adult, child and adolescent psychiatric departments, as well as a maison d'accueil spécialisée (MAS) and an employment assistance department. The center is five kilometers east of Avignon in the Montfavet district, on the Montdevergues hill.

There are also several private clinics.


Courts and administrative bodies

Avignon is the seat of a regional court, a commercial court, a district court and an employment tribunal. The seat of the courts is in the courthouse on Boulevard Limbert.

Avignon is also the seat of a chamber of notaries and a chamber of commerce.

The former prison at 55a rue Banasterie was closed and moved to Pontet. The prison is currently being renovated and converted into a 90-room Marriott luxury hotel, expecting its first guests in 2013.


Avignon in art and the media

Paintings, engravings and sculptures

The Jesuit father Étienne Martellange made a drawing showing Avignon around 1617. It is also associated with the Carte aux personnages of the same year and with the map drawing from the Atlas van Loon.

Avignon, only in work titles:
La Pietà d'Avignon, a 15th-century panel painting by Enguerrand Quarton;
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso (1907) (which does not refer to the city but to the Carrer d'Avinyó street in Barcelona).


Films and series

Several films have been shot in Avignon, but the city has rarely been the focus of the action. To mention are:

Minuit, place Pigalle by Roger Richebé (1933) with Raimu
Eleven o'clock at night by Jean-Luc Godard (1965), filmed on the Durance and the Pont de Bonpas
The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Anatole Litvak (1970)
Les Fous du stade by Claude Zidi (1972), filmed at the stadium and in the municipal baths
The Student by Claude Pinoteau (1988), with a scene in which Vincent Lindon makes a call from a phone booth in the square of the Palais des Papes
A Woman for Two by and with Josiane Balasko (1995)
Victor… pendant qu'il est trop tard by Sandrine Veysset (1998), especially on the Île de la Barthelasse
L’Affaire Dominici by Pierre Boutron (2003) in the Avignon court
A Good Year by Ridley Scott (2005)
Mr. Bean's Holiday by Steve Bendelack (2007), with scenes shot in Avignon's two train stations
Désengagement by Amos Gitai (2007), the beginning of the film takes place in Avignon
Le Bruit des gens autour by Diastème (2008), dedicated to the International Theater Festival
Tell me about the rain by Agnès Jaoui (2008), where you can see the Rue de la Peyrollerie
In the autobiographical documentary The Beaches of Agnès by Agnès Varda (2008), you can see Varda's photo exhibition at the festival in the Saint-Charles chapel.

In addition, two French television series are set in the city: La Demoiselle d'Avignon (1972) and La Prophétie d'Avignon (2007), which was filmed in the Palais des Papes.


Avignon in literature

Avignon and the Palais des Papes have often served as the setting for literary action, particularly in French literature. Among the best-known works are probably Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel or Alphonse Daudet's Letters from my Mill, which refer to the time of the popes. There are also numerous mentions of well-known travelers such as Francesco Petrarca, Anne Marguerite Petit Du Noyer or Stendhal, whose impressions and views are, however, quite different. Avignon is described by some as a peaceful, idyllic city where life is good. Others, such as Prosper Mérimée, are astonished by the imposing papal palace, which is sometimes met with dislike due to its fortress-like character. Petrarch probably felt the most uncomfortable in Avignon, who felt repelled by the big city and preferred to live in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.



On June 20, 1938, the French Post Office issued a stamp of the Palais des Papes, drawn by André Spitz and embossed by Jules Piel, with a face value of three francs.

Every year since 1960, the Société philatélique Vauclusienne et Provençale has organized a Journée du Timbre to Avignon, publishing illustrated cards with a view of the Pont Saint-Bénézet and the Palais des Papes.

In 1974 the Isle of Man Post Office issued a postage stamp showing the Pont Saint-Bénézet.

In 1997, the Wallis and Futuna Islands Postal Administration dedicated one of their issues to the fiftieth anniversary of the Avignon Festival. The postage stamp with a nominal value of 160 francs shows symbols for theatre, music and dance in the middle, as well as the Palais des Papes lit up by fireworks.

On 8 June 2001, in memory of Jean Vilar, the Post Office issued a double face value stamp (three francs and 0.46 euros) with the Palais des Papes in the background.

In 2009, the French postal administration issued a stamp with a face value of 0.70 euros. It shows the entire papal palace including Avignon Cathedral from the west and was designed by Martin Mörck.



There are numerous personalities associated with the city of Avignon and its history. Avignon has not only produced countless sons and daughters, but has also influenced many famous personalities from outside. These include above all popes and cardinals (Annibaldus de Ceccano, Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord), former or current politicians, military figures (Juan Fernández de Heredia, Raymond de Turenne), athletes, sculptors (Jean-Pierre Gras, Camille Claudel), painters (Claude Joseph Vernet), members of the first (Simone Martini, Matteo Giovanetti) and second schools of Avignon (Enguerrand Quarton, Nicolas Froment) or of the (Groupe des Treize), architects (Pierre Mignard, Jean Péru, Jean-Baptiste Franque), Singers (Fernand Sardou, Mireille Mathieu), writers (Henri Bosco, Pierre Boulle, René Girard) and poets (Petrarca, Alain Chartier, Théodore Aubanel or other members of the Félibrige).