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Avinhon  (Occitan)
Vue aérienne 2 JP Campomar.jpg
Park beim Papstpalast in Avignon01 (cropped).jpg
Avignon, Palais des Papes depuis Tour Philippe le Bel by JM Rosier (cropped).jpg
Le Pont d'Avignon (cropped).jpg
Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Doms d'Avignon sous l'orage.jpg
Avignon festival 2006 asobu popes palace.jpg
From top: skyline,
Rocher des Doms, Palais des Papes,
Pont Saint-Bénézet,
Avignon Cathedral, Festival d'Avignon
Coat of arms of Avignon
Coat of arms
Avignon is located in France
Location in France
Avignon is located in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Location in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Vaucluse
Arrondissement Avignon
Canton Avignon-1, Avignon-2, Avignon-3
Intercommunality CA Grand Avignon
64.78 km2 (25.01 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2019)
 • Density 1,406.96/km2 (3,644.01/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
84007 /84000
Elevation 10–122 m (33–400 ft)
(avg. 23 m or 75 ft)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
Criteria Cultural: i, ii, iv
Inscription 1995 (19th Session)
Area 8.2 ha
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Avignon ( Provençal: Avinhon (Classical norm) or Avignoun (Mistralian norm) Latin: Avenio) is the prefecture of the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of Southeastern France. Located on the left bank of the river Rhône, the commune had a population of 93,671 as of the census results of 2017, with about 16,000 (estimate from Avignon's municipal services) living in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval walls. It is France's 35th largest metropolitan area according to INSEE with 336,135 inhabitants (2019), and France's 13th largest urban unit with 458,828 inhabitants (2019). Its urban area was the fastest-growing in France from 1999 until 2010 with an increase of 76% of its population and an area increase of 136%. The Communauté d'agglomération du Grand Avignon, a cooperation structure of 16 communes, had 192,785 inhabitants in 2018.

Between 1309 and 1377, during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when during the French Revolution it became part of France. The city is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its city walls.

The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papes, the cathedral and the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its architecture and importance during the 14th and 15th centuries. The medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon (commonly called: "Festival In d'Avignon") and its accompanying Festival Off d'Avignon - one of the world's largest festivals for performing arts, have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism.


The earliest forms of the name were reported by the Greeks: Аὐενιὼν Aueniṑn (Stephen of Byzantium, Strabo, IV, 1, 11) and Άουεννίων Aouenníōn (Ptolemy II, x).

The Roman name Avennĭo Cavărum (Mela, II, 575, Pliny III, 36), i.e. "Avignon of Cavares", accurately shows that Avignon was one of the three cities of the Celtic-Ligurian tribe of Cavares, along with Cavaillon and Orange.

The current name dates to a pre-Indo-European or pre-Latin theme ab-ên with the suffix -i-ōn(e). This theme would be a hydronym – i.e. a name linked to the river (Rhône), but perhaps also an oronym of terrain (the Rocher des Doms).

The Auenion of the 1st century BC was Latinized to Avennĭo (or Avēnĭo), -ōnis in the 1st century and is written Avinhon in classic Occitan spelling or Avignoun in Mistralian spelling. The inhabitants of the commune are called avinhonencs or avignounen in both standard Occitan and Provençal dialect.



Avignon is on the left bank of the Rhône river, a few kilometres above its confluence with the Durance, about 580 km (360 mi) south-east of Paris, 229 km (142 mi) south of Lyon and 85 km (53 mi) north-north-west of Marseille. On the west it shares a border with the department of Gard and the communes of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Les Angles and to the south it borders the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and the communes of Barbentane, Rognonas, Châteaurenard, and Noves.

The city is in the vicinity of Orange (north), Nîmes, Montpellier (south-west), Arles (to the south), Salon-de-Provence, and Marseille (south-east). Directly contiguous to the east and north are the communes of Caumont-sur-Durance, Morières-lès-Avignon, Le Pontet, and Sorgues.

Geology and terrain

P1280052 - Avignon
Aerial view of Avignon

The region around Avignon is very rich in limestone which is used for building material. For example, the current city walls, measuring 4,330 metres long, were built with the soft limestone abundant in the region called mollasse burdigalienne.

Enclosed by the city walls, the Rocher des Doms is a limestone elevation of Urgonian type, 35 metres high (and therefore safe from flooding of the Rhone which it overlooks) and is the original core of the city. Several limestone massifs are present around the commune (the Massif des Angles, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Alpilles...) and they are partly the result of the oceanisation of the Ligurian-Provençal basin following the migration of the Sardo-Corsican block.

The other significant elevation in the commune is the Montfavet Hill – a wooded hill in the east of the commune.

The Rhone Valley is an old alluvial zone: loose deposits cover much of the ground. It consists of sandy alluvium more or less coloured with pebbles consisting mainly of siliceous rocks. The islands in the Rhone, such as the Île de la Barthelasse, were created by the accumulation of alluvial deposits and also by the work of man. The relief is quite low despite the creation of mounds allowing local protection from flooding.

In the land around the city there are clay, silt, sand, and limestone present.


Vue des ponts d'Avignon par JM Rosier
Bridges on the Grand Rhône.
Pont d'Avignon
The Pont d'Avignon on the Petit Rhône. In the background is Mont Ventoux.

The Rhone passes the western edge of the city, but is divided into two branches: the Petit Rhône, or "dead arm", for the part that passes next to Avignon and the Grand Rhône, or "live arm", for the western channel which passes Villeneuve-lès-Avignon in the Gard department. The two branches are separated by an island, the Île de la Barthelasse. The southernmost tip of the Île de la Barthelasse once formed of a separated island, the L'Île de Piot.

The banks of the Rhone and the Île de la Barthelasse are often subject to flooding during autumn and March. The publication Floods in France since the 6th century until today – research and documentation by Maurice Champion tells about a number of them (until 1862, the flood of 1856 was one of the largest, which destroyed part of the walls). They have never really stopped as shown by the floods in 1943–1944 and again on 23 January 1955 and remain important today – such as the floods of 2 December 2003. As a result, a new risk mapping has been developed.

The Durance flows along the southern boundary of the commune into the Rhone and marks the departmental boundary with Bouches-du-Rhône. It is a river that is considered "capricious" and once feared for its floods (it was once called the "3rd scourge of Provence" as well as for its low water: the Durance has both Alpine and Mediterranean morphology which is unusual.

There are many natural and artificial water lakes in the commune such as the Lake of Saint-Chamand east of the city.

Artificial diversions

Moulin Parc chico mendes 6
A mill on the Vaucluse Canal in the Pont des 2 eaux district

There have been many diversions throughout the course of history, such as feeding the moat surrounding Avignon or irrigating crops.

In the 10th century part of the waters from the Sorgue d'Entraigues were diverted and today pass under the walls to enter the city. (See Sorgue). This watercourse is called the Vaucluse Canal but Avignon people still call it the Sorgue or Sorguette. It is visible in the city in the Rue des teinturiers (street of dyers). It fed the moat around the first defensive walls then fed the moat on the newer eastern city walls (14th century). In the 13th century (under an Act signed in 1229) part of the waters of the Durance were diverted to increase the water available for the moats starting from Bonpas. This river was later called the Durançole. The Durançole fed the western moats of the city and was also used to irrigate crops at Montfavet. In the city, these streams are often hidden beneath the streets and houses and are currently used to collect sewerage.

The Hospital Canal (joining the Durançole) and the Crillon Canal (1775) were dug to irrigate the territories of Montfavet, Pontet, and Vedène. They were divided into numerous "fioles" or "filioles" (in Provençal filhòlas or fiolo). Similarly, to irrigate the gardens of the wealthy south of Avignon, the Puy Canal was dug (1808). All of these canals took their water from the Durance. These canals were initially used to flood the land, which was very stony, to fertilize them by deposition of silt.

All of these canals have been used to operate many mills.


Clocher de l'église des Augustins (Place des Carmes) Avignon, by JM Rosier
The leaning bell tower of the Church of the Augustinians.

Under the new seismic zoning of France defined in Decree No. 2010-1255 of 22 October 2010 concerning the delimitation of the seismicity of the French territory and which entered into force on 1 May 2011, Avignon is located in an area of moderate seismicity. The previous zoning is shown below for reference.

"The cantons of Bonnieux, Apt, Cadenet, Cavaillon, and Pertuis are classified in zone Ib (low risk). All other cantons the Vaucluse department, including Avignon, are classified Ia (very low risk). This zoning is for exceptional seismicity resulting in the destruction of buildings.".

The presence of faults in the limestone substrate shows that significant tectonic shift has caused earthquakes in different geological ages. The last major earthquake of significant magnitude was on 11 June 1909. It left a visible trace in the centre of the city since the bell tower of the Augustinians, which is surmounted by an ancient campanile of wrought iron, located in Rue Carreterie, remained slightly leaning as a result of this earthquake.


Avignon has a hot-summer mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), though the dry-summer effect is not as strong as coastal locations like Marseille due to its more sheltered inland location. With mild-cool winters and hot summers, with moderate rainfall year-round. July and August are the hottest months with average daily maximum temperatures of around 28 °C, and January and February the coldest with average daily maximum temperatures of around 9 °C. The wettest month is September, with a rain average of 102 millimetres, and the driest month is July, when the monthly average rainfall is 37 millimetres. The city is often subject to windy weather; the strongest wind is the mistral. A medieval Latin proverb said of the city: Avenie ventosa, sine vento venenosa, cum vento fastidiosa (Windy Avignon, pest-ridden when there is no wind, wind-pestered when there is).

Climate data for Avignon (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1958–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.9
Average high °C (°F) 10.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.9
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
Record low °C (°F) −13
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5.4 4.8 4.4 7.1 6.5 4.3 2.4 3.3 5.3 7.2 6.7 5.6 62.9
Source: Météo France

According to Météo-France the number of days per year with rain above 2.5 litres per square metre is 45 and the amount of water, rain and snow combined is 660 litres per square metre. Average temperatures vary between 0 and 30 °C depending on the season. The record temperature record since the existence of the weather station at Orange is 40.7 °C on 26 July 1983 and the record lowest was −14.5 °C on 2 February 1956.

The mistral

The prevailing wind is the mistral for which the windspeed can be beyond 110 km/h. It blows between 120 and 160 days per year with an average speed of 90 km/h in gusts. The following table shows the different speeds of the mistral recorded by Orange and Carpentras Serres stations in the southern Rhone valley and its frequency in 2006. Normal corresponds to the average of the last 53 years from Orange weather reports and that of the last 42 at Carpentras.

Legend: "=" same as normal; "+" Higher than normal; "-" Lower than normal.

Speed of Mistral winds
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Maximum recorded speed by month 106 km/h 127 km/h 119 km/h 97 km/h 94 km/h 144 km/h 90 km/h 90 km/h 90 km/h 87 km/h 91 km/h 118 km/h
Tendency: Days with speed
> 16 m/s (58 km/h)
-- +++ --- ++++ ++++ = = ++++ + --- = ++


In 2017, the commune had 91,921 inhabitants.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1793 24,000 —    
1800 21,412 −1.62%
1806 23,789 +1.77%
1821 29,407 +1.42%
1831 29,889 +0.16%
1836 31,786 +1.24%
1841 33,844 +1.26%
1846 35,169 +0.77%
1851 35,890 +0.41%
1856 37,077 +0.65%
1861 36,081 −0.54%
1866 36,427 +0.19%
1872 38,196 +0.79%
1876 38,008 −0.12%
1881 37,657 −0.19%
1886 41,007 +1.72%
1891 43,453 +1.17%
1896 45,107 +0.75%
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1901 46,896 +0.78%
1906 48,312 +0.60%
1911 49,304 +0.41%
1921 48,177 −0.23%
1926 51,685 +1.42%
1931 57,228 +2.06%
1936 59,472 +0.77%
1946 60,053 +0.10%
1954 62,768 +0.55%
1962 72,717 +1.86%
1968 86,096 +2.85%
1975 90,786 +0.76%
1982 89,132 −0.26%
1990 86,939 −0.31%
1999 85,935 −0.13%
2007 91,283 +0.76%
2012 89,380 −0.42%
2017 91,921 +0.56%
Source: EHESS and INSEE


Avignon is the prefecture (capital) of Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region. It forms the core of the Grand Avignon metropolitan area (communauté d'agglomération), which comprises 15 communes on both sides of the river:

List of mayors

List of successive mayors

Mayors from the French Revolution to 1940
From To Name
1790 1790 Jean-Baptiste d'Armand
1790 1791 Antoine Agricol Richard
1791 1792 Levieux-Laverne
1792 1793 Jean-Ettienne Duprat
1793 1793 Jean-André Cartoux
1793 1793 Jean-François ROCHETIN
1795 1795 Guillaume François Ignace Puy
1795 1796 Alexis Bruny
1796 1796 Père Minvielle
1796 1797 Faulcon
1797 1798 Père Minvielle
1798 1799 Cadet Garrigan
1799 1800 Père Niel
1800 1806 Guillaume François Ignace PUY
1806 1811 Agricol Joseph Xavier Bertrand
1811 1815 Guillaume François Ignace Puy
1815 1815 Hippolyte Roque de Saint-Pregnan
1815 1819 Charles de Camis-Lezan
1819 1820 Louis Duplessis de Pouzilhac
1820 1826 Charles Soullier
1826 1830 Louis Pertuis de Montfaucon
1830 1832 François Jillian
1832 1833 Balthazar Delorme
1834 1837 Hippolyte Roque de Saint-Pregnan
1837 1841 Dominique Geoffroy
1841 1843 Albert d'Olivier de Pezet
1843 1847 Eugène Poncet
1847 1848 Hyacinthe Chauffard
1848 1848 Alphonse Gent
1848 1848 Frédéric Granier
1848 1850 Gabriel Vinay
1850 1852 Martial BOSSE
1852 1853 Eugène Poncet
1853 1865 Paul Pamard
1865 1870 Paul Poncet
1870 1871 Paul Bourges
1871 1874 Paul Poncet
1874 1878 Roger du Demaine
1878 1881 Paul Poncet
1881 1881 Eugène Millo
1881 1884 Charles Deville
1884 1888 Paul Poncet
1888 1903 Gaston Pourquery de Boisserin
1903 1904 Alexandre Dibon
1904 1910 Henri Guigou
1910 1919 Louis Valayer
1919 1925 Ferdinand Bec
1925 1928 Louis Gros
1929 1940 Louis Nouveau
Mayors from 1940
From To Name Party
1940 1942 Jean Gauger
1942 1944 Edmond Pailheret
1944 1945 Louis Gros
1945 1947 Georges Pons
1947 1948 Paul Rouvier
1948 1950 Henri Mazo
1950 1953 Noël Hermitte
1953 1958 Edouard Daladier
1958 1983 Henri Duffaut PS
1983 1989 Jean-Pierre Roux RPR
1989 1995 Guy Ravier PS
1995 2014 Marie-José Roig UMP
2014 2026 Cécile Helle PS

Twin towns – sister cities

Avignon is twinned with:

Evolution of the borders of the commune

Avignon absorbed Montfavet between 1790 and 1794 then ceded Morières-lès-Avignon in 1870 and Le Pontet in 1925. On 16 May 2007 the commune of Les Angles in Gard ceded 13 hectares to Avignon.

Area and population

The city of Avignon has an area of 64.78 km2 and a population of 92,078 inhabitants in 2010 and is ranked as follows:

Rank Land Area Population Density
France 524th 46th 632nd
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 105th 5th 23rd
Vaucluse 6th 1st 2nd


Avignon is the seat of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vaucluse which manages the Avignon – Caumont Airport and the Avignon-Le Pontet Docks.

Avignon has 7,000 businesses, 1,550 associations, 1,764 shops, and 1,305 service providers. The urban area has one of the largest catchment areas in Europe with more than 300,000 square metres of retail space and 469 m2 per thousand population against 270 on average in France. The commercial area of Avignon Nord is one of the largest in Europe.

The tertiary sector is the most dynamic in the department by far on the basis of the significant production of early fruit and vegetables in Vaucluse, The MIN (Market of National Importance) has become the pivotal hub of commercial activity in the department, taking precedence over other local markets (including that of Carpentras).

A Sensitive urban zone was created for companies wanting to relocate with exemptions from tax and social issues. It is located south of Avignon between the city walls and the Durance located in the districts of Croix Rouge, Monclar, Saint-Chamand, and La Rocade.

Areas of economic activity

There are nine main areas of economic activity in Avignon.

The Courtine area is the largest with nearly 300 businesses (of which roughly half are service establishments, one third are shops, and the rest related to industry) and more than 3,600 jobs. The site covers an area of 300 hectares and is located south-west of the city at the TGV railway station.

Then comes the Fontcouverte area with a hundred establishments representing a thousand jobs. It is, however, more oriented towards shops than the Courtine area.

The MIN area of Avignon is the Agroparc area (or "Technopole Agroparc"). The Cristole area is contiguous and both have a little less than a hundred establishments.

Finally, the areas of Castelette, Croix de Noves, Realpanier, and the airport each have fewer than 25 establishments spread between service activities and shops. The area of the Castelette alone represents more than 600 jobs – i.e. 100 more than Cristole.


Four million visitors come annually to visit the city and the region and also for its festival. In 2011 the most visited tourist attraction was the Palais des Papes with 572,972 paying visitors. The annual Festival d'Avignon is the most important cultural event in the city. The official festival attracted 135,800 people in 2012.

Viking Burgundy (ship, 2000) 001
A cruise boat at the quay at Avignon.

River tourism began in 1994 with three river boat-hotels. In 2011 there is a fleet of 21 river boat-hotel vessels, including six sight-seeing boats which are anchored on the quay along the Oulle walkways. In addition, a free shuttle boat connects Avignon to the Île de la Barthelasse and, as of 1987, a harbor master has managed all river traffic.

The commune has been awarded one flower by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.


Fruits et légumes aux Halles
Fruit and Vegetables at the Markets of Avignon

The city is the headquarters of the International Association of the Mediterranean tomato, the World Council of the tomato industry, and the Inter-Rhône organisation.


Only EDF (Grand Delta) with about 850 employees and Onet Propreté with just over 300 exceed 100 employees.

Public sector (excluding government)

The Henri Duffaut hospital, the City of Avignon, and the CHS of Montfavet are the largest employers in the town with about 2,000 employees each. Then comes the General Council of Vaucluse with about 1,300 employees.


In 2017 the unemployment rate was 26.0% while it was 20.7% in 2007. There are 38,731 people in the Avignon workforce: 102 (0.3%) agricultural workers, 2,194 (5.7%) tradesmen, shopkeepers, and business managers, 5,598 (14.5%) managers and intellectuals, 8,486 (21.9%) middle managers, 11,734 (30.3%) employees, and 9,247 (23.9%) workers.



Avignon is close to two motorways:

  • the A7 autoroute (E714) is a north–south axis on which there are two exits: Sinnbild Autobahnausfahrt.svg 23  Avignon-Nord (Northern districts of Avignon, Le Pontet, Carpentras) and Sinnbild Autobahnausfahrt.svg 24  Avignon-Sud (Southern districts of Avignon, Avignon-Caumont Airport);
  • the A9 autoroute (E15) which branches from the A7 near Orange along a north-east south-west axis towards Spain.

The main roads are:

The city has nine paid multi-storey car parks with a total of 7,100 spaces, multi-storey car parks under surveillance with a capacity for 2,050 cars with a free shuttle to the city centre, as well as five other free parking areas with a capacity of 900 cars.


Avignon is served by two railway stations: the historic station built in 1860, the Gare d'Avignon-Centre, just outside the city walls, which can accommodate any type of train and, since 2001, the Gare d'Avignon TGV in the 'Courtine' district south of the city, on the LGV Méditerranée line. Since December 2013 the two stations have been connected by a link line – the Virgule. The Montfavet district, which was formerly a separate commune, also has a station.


The Avignon - Caumont Airport on the south-eastern commune border has several international routes to England. The major airport in the region with domestic and international scheduled passenger service is the Marseille Provence Airport.

Water transport

Avignon - Navette Fluviale
A Water taxi departing from its berth

The Rhône has for many centuries been an important means of transportation for the city. River traffic in Avignon has two commercial ports, docking stations for boat cruises, and various riverfront developments. A free shuttle boat has been established between the quay near the city walls and the opposite bank (the île de la Barthelasse).

A vélopop cycle station next to the city walls

Public transport

The Transports en Commun de la Région d'Avignon [fr] (TCRA) is the public transport operator for the commune of Avignon and its surrounding suburbs. TCRA operates bus services, as well as bike sharing and car pooling services. The first tram line opened in October 2019.


Avignon has 110 km (68 mi) of bicycle paths. In 2009 the TCRA introduced a bicycle sharing system called the Vélopop'.

Cultural heritage

Avignon has a very large number of sites and buildings (177) that are registered as historical monuments.

Avignon shops
Rue de la République, the city's central boulevard

In the part of the city within the walls the buildings are old but in most areas they have been restored or reconstructed (such as the post office and the Lycée Frédéric Mistral). The buildings along the main street, Rue de la République, date from the Second Empire (1852–70) with Haussmann façades and amenities around Place de l'Horloge (the central square), the neoclassical city hall, and the theatre district.

Avignon statues
Statues gaze over the Place de l'Horloge in the town centre
Avignon facades
Paintings on the façades of buildings in the town centre

Listed below are the major sites of interest with those sites registered as historical monuments indicated:

  • Notre Dame des Doms (12th century),Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg the cathedral is a Romanesque building, mainly built during the 12th century; the most prominent feature of the cathedral is the 19th century gilded statue of the Virgin which surmounts the western tower. The mausoleum of Pope John XXII (1334)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg, within the cathedral, is a noteworthy example of 14th-century Gothic carving.
  • Palais des Papes ("Papal Palace") (14th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg almost dwarfs the cathedral. The palace is an impressive monument and sits within a square of the same name. The palace was begun in 1316 by John XXII and continued by succeeding popes through the 14th century, until 1370 when it was finished.
  • Minor churches of the town include three built in the Gothic architectural style:
    • Church of Saint-Pierre (14th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg which has a graceful façade and richly carved doors;
    • Church of Saint-Didier (14th century);Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg and
    • Church of Saint-Agricol (14th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
  • Other religious buildings:
    • Church of Saint-Symphorien (14th century, former Carmelite monastery church).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Church of Montfavet (14th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Chapel of the Oratory.Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Chapel of the White penitents (16th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Chapel of the Grey penitents (18th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Chapel of the Black penitents.Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Synagogue (19th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
  • Civic buildings are represented most notably by:
    • The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) (1846),Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg a relatively modern building with a bell tower from the 14th century,
    • The old Hôtel des Monnaies,Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg the papal mint which was built in 1610 and became a music-school.
    • Hospital Sainte-Marthe.Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • Hotel of Saint-Priest (Hotel de Monery, 18th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
    • House of King René (15th century).Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
  • The city walls,Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg built by the popes in the 14th century and still encircle Avignon. They are one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence. The walls are of great strength and are surmounted by machicolated battlements flanked at intervals by 39 massive towers and pierced by several gateways, three of which date from the 14th century. The walls were restored under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
  • Bridges include:
    • The Pont Saint-Bénézet, better known as the Pont d'Avignon and for the French song Sur le pont d'Avignon. Only four of the twenty one piers are left and the bridge ends mid-channel. On one of the piers stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.
    • The Pont Édouard Daladier and the Pont de Royaume, which together span both channels of the Rhone leading to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, thus replacing the Pont Saint-Bénézet
    • The Pont de l'Europe, which provides a second road crossing over the Rhone.
    • Two railway bridges over the Rhone, one carrying the conventional Paris–Marseille line and the other the LGV Méditerranée line
  • Calvet Museum, so named after Esprit Calvet, a physician who in 1810 left his collections to the town. It has a large collection of paintings, metalwork and other objects. The library has over 140,000 volumes.
  • The town has a Statue of Jean Althen, who migrated from Persia and in 1765 introduced the culture of the madder plant, which long formed the staple—and is still an important tool—of the local cloth trade in the area.
  • Musée du Petit Palais (opened 1976) at the end of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes, has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many "primitives" from the collection of Giampietro Campana.
  • The Hotel d'Europe, one of the oldest hotels in France, in business since 1799.
  • The Collection Lambert, houses contemporary art exhibitions
  • The Musée Angladon exhibits the paintings of a private collector who created the museum
  • Musée Lapidaire, with collections of archaeological and medieval sculptures from the Fondation Calvet in the old chapel of the Jesuit College.
  • Musée Louis-Vouland
  • Musée Requien
  • Palais du RoureLogo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg
  • Les Halles is a large indoor market that offers fresh produce, meats, and fish along with a variety of other goods.
  • The Place Pie is a small square near Place de l'Horloge where you can partake in an afternoon coffee on the outdoor terraces or enjoy a night on the town later in the evening as the square fills with young people.
  • Note: the name of Pablo Picasso's 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) is misleading; Picasso's models for this painting were in fact not women of the city of Avignon, but rather of the Carrer d'Avinyó (Avignon Street) in Barcelona.

The commune houses more than 500 historical objects, many of which religious.



Avignon Festival

A theatre festival is held annually in Avignon. Founded in 1947, the Avignon Festival comprises traditional theatrical events as well as other art forms such as dance, music, and cinema, making use of the town's historical monuments. Every summer approximately 100,000 people attend the festival. There are really two festivals that take place: the more formal "Festival In", which presents plays inside the Palace of the Popes and the more bohemian "Festival Off", which is known for its presentation of largely undiscovered plays and street performances.

Avignon festival was founded by Jean Vilar. This cultural initiative brought, year after year, a major economic boost to the city and to the region of Provence. Indeed, the tourists visiting Avignon during the month of July usually take benefit of their presence to go to the smaller villages around, to discover the local food, local wines, touristic activities, learn some French.

International Congress Centre

The centre was created in 1976 within the premises of the Palace of the Popes and hosts many events throughout the entire year. The Congress Centre, designed for conventions, seminars, and meetings for 10 to 550 persons, now occupies two wings of the Popes' Palace.

"Sur le Pont d'Avignon"

View over the Rhône looking northeast, with the Pont Saint-Bénézet or "Pont d'Avignon" at left

Avignon is commemorated by the French song 'Sur le Pont d'Avignon' ('On the bridge of Avignon'), which describes folk dancing. The song dates from the mid-19th century when Adolphe Adam included it in the Opéra comique Le Sourd ou l'Auberge Pleine, which was first performed in Paris in 1853. The opera was an adaptation of the 1790 comedy by Desforges.

The bridge of the song is the Pont Saint-Bénézet over the Rhône, of which only four arches (out of the initial 22) now remain. A bridge across the Rhone was built between 1171 and 1185, with a length of some 900 m (2950 ft), but was destroyed during the siege of Avignon by Louis VIII of France in 1226. It was rebuilt but suffered frequent collapses during floods and had to be continually repaired. Several arches were already missing (and spanned by wooden sections) before the remainder was abandoned in 1669.


Sporting Olympique Avignon is the local rugby league football team. During the 20th century it produced a number of French international representative players.

AC Arles-Avignon was a professional association football team. They competed in Ligue 2, after a season 2010–2011 competing in Ligue 1 and being relegated back down the following season and ultimately folding in 2016. They played at the Parc des Sports, which has a capacity of just over 17,000.


The schools within the commune of Avignon are administered by the Académie d'Aix-Marseille. There are 26 state nursery schools (Écoles maternelles) for children up to 6, and 32 state primary schools (Écoles élémentaires) up to 11. There are also 4 private schools.

University of Avignon

Entrance to the main university building. This 18th century portico was once the entrance to the Hôpital Sainte-Marthe.

University before the Revolution

The medieval University of Avignon, formed from the existing schools of the city, was formally constituted in 1303 by Boniface VIII in a Papal Bull. Boniface VIII and King Charles II of Naples were the first great protectors and benefactors to the university. The Law department was the most important department covering both civil and ecclesiastical law. The law department existed nearly exclusively for some time after the university's formation and remained its most important department throughout its existence.

In 1413 Pope John XXIII founded the university's department of theology, which for quite some time had only a few students. It was not until the 16th and 17th centuries that the school developed a department of medicine. The bishop of Avignon was chancellor of the university from 1303 to 1475. After 1475 the bishop became an archbishop but remained chancellor of the university. The papal vice-legate, generally a bishop, represented the civil power (in this case the pope) and was chiefly a judicial officer who ranked higher than the Primicerius (Rector).

The Primicerius was elected by the Doctors of Law. In 1503 the Doctors of Law had 4 Theologians and in 1784 two Doctors of Medicine added to their ranks. Since the Pope was the spiritual head and, after 1348, the temporal ruler of Avignon, he was able to have a great deal of influence in all university affairs. In 1413 John XXIII granted the university extensive special privileges, such as university jurisdiction and tax exempt status. Political, geographical, and educational circumstances in the latter part of the university's existence caused it to seek favour from Paris rather than Rome for protection. During the chaos of the French Revolution the university started to gradually disappear and, in 1792, the university was abandoned and closed.

Modern university

A university annex of the Faculté des Sciences d'Aix-Marseille was opened in Avignon in 1963. Over the next 20 years various changes were made to the provision of tertiary education in the town until finally in 1984 the Université d'Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse was created. This was nearly 200 years after the demise of the original Avignon university. The main campus lies to the east of the city centre within the city walls. The university occupies the 18th century buildings of the Hôpital Sainte-Marthe. The main building has an elegant façade with a central portico. The right hand side was designed by Jean-Baptiste Franque and built between 1743 and 1745. Franque was assisted by his son François in the design of the portico. The hospital moved out in the 1980s and, after major works, the building opened for students in 1997. In 2009–2010 there were 7,125 students registered at the university.

Notable people

Bust of Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1783 CE. From Paris, France. By Louis-Simon Boizot. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bust of Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1783
Réception pour les Français de Shanghai 20100430 - 21
Bernard Kouchner, 2010
René Girard
Rio 2016. sx 223 (28237849084)
Camille Ayglon, Rio 2016

The Arts

  • Nicolas Dipre (ca.1495-1532), early Renaissance painter.
  • Trophime Bigot (1579 in Arles – 1650 in Avignon), French painter of the Baroque era.
  • Pierre Simon Jaillot (1631-1681), sculptor of ivory objects
  • Pierre Parrocel (1664–1739), painter of the late-Baroque period.
  • Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789), a painter of night landscapes.
  • Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer (1770 in Göttingen – 1825 in Avignon), artist and scholar.
  • Pierre Grivolas (1823-1906), painter of landscapes, portraits and genre scenes.
  • Émile Beaussier (1874–1943), painter of maritime scenes and sunny landscapes.
  • Albert Gleizes (1881–1953), artist, theoretician, philosopher, self-proclaimed founder of Cubism
  • Yahel Chirinian (born 1970), contemporary sculptor and installation artist


  • Justine Favart (1727–1772), an operatic singer, actress, playwright and dancer.
  • Albert Guille (1854-1914), operatic tenor
  • Marie Grisier-Montbazon (1859−1922), a French actress and singer.
  • Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992), composer, organist, and ornithologist
  • Jean-Claude Malgoire (1940–2018), oboist and later conductor.
  • Mireille Mathieu (born 1946), singer
  • Christophe Rousset (born 1961), harpsichordist and conductor of Baroque music
  • Peste Noire (formed 1982), a black metal band

Science & Business

Public service & the Church


  • Bertran Folcon d'Avignon (fl. 1202–1233), a Provençal nobleman, troubadour and poet
  • Abraham Farissol (ca.1451 – ca.1525), a Jewish-Italian geographer, cosmographer, scribe and polemicist.
  • Marianne-Agnès Falques (1720-1785), author of romance novels and other topical writing
  • Armand de Pontmartin (1811-1890), journalist, critic and man of letters.
  • Henri Bosco (1888-1976), writer, nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.
  • Pierre Boulle (1912-1994), author of the novels: The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes
  • René Girard (1923–2015), polymath, historian, literary critic and philosopher of social science
  • Daniel Arsand (born 1950), writer and publisher
  • Mazarine Pingeot (born 1974), writer, journalist and associate Professor of philosophy at the Paris 8 University and daughter of former French President François Mitterrand.
  • Vincent Almendros (born 1978), writer, winner of the 2015 prix Françoise Sagan


  • Éric Di Meco (born 1963), former footballer with 342 club caps and 23 with France
  • Jean Alesi, (born 1964), professional racing driver for Formula 1 & DTM
  • Teddy Richert (born 1974), goalkeeper coach and former goalkeeper with 464 club caps
  • Cédric Carrasso (born 1981), former footballer with 379 club caps
  • Philippe Toledo (born 1983), former footballer with 449 club caps
  • Camille Ayglon (born 1985), retired handballer with 270 caps with France women and an Olympic team silver medallist
  • Benoît Richaud (born 1988), figure skating choreographer and former competitive ice dancer.
  • Benoît Paire (born 1989), tennis player, best singles ranking is World No. 18, in January 2016
  • Younès Belhanda (born 1990), footballer with over 360 club caps and 58 for Morocco
  • Tony Gigot (born 1990), rugby league footballer with 233 club caps and 19 for France
  • Giuliano Alesi (born 1999), Super Formula driver
  • Clément Novalak (born 2000), FIA Formula 2 driver
  • Pierre-Louis Chovet (born 2002), racing driver

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Aviñón para niños

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