it’s the Palace of the Popes, the partly collapsed Benezet bridge, medieval ramparts, a Provençal city, a theatre festival… but it is also an exceptional history that has shaped this city throughout the centuries.
Between the Rhône and the Durance, at the crossroads of major European trade and migration routes, the ancient Aouenion, the «city of the violent wind» or «the lord of the river» began its history with a Neolithic people who became sedentary and settled on the promontory of the Rocher des Doms.
The Romans, the Arabs, then the Franks have shaped it over the centuries. Then, at the turn of the fourteenth century, the choice of Pope Clement V to install his permanent residence followed by eight other popes, marked its international fame. The architecture of the Papal City was thus forever modified until it became today a cultural capital of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Here we want to make discover the historical heritage of Avignon through the history of the city, its emblematic places, the characters who contributed to its fame and some anecdotes.
Follow us regularly on this journey…
The Halles’ market
Les Halles is what the people of Avignon call the covered market which occupies a strategic place in the heart of the city, facing the Place Pie.
Its history begins in the 16th century with wooden barracks for animals…
Avignon in literature
Already in the 14th century we find writings about Avignon by Francesco Petrarch who lived there.
But it was from the 19th century onwards that famous French authors stopped here and revealed the city…
Its name is derived from the Provincia Romana. The first land founded in Gaul by the Romans at the end of the 2nd century B.C. when they had not yet conquered the rest of Gaul. Later, its territory was successively attached to the kingdom of Provence, to that of Arles and Burgundy, until the feudal crumbling that constituted the County of Provence south of the Durance river and the County of Forcalquier and Marquisate of Provence to the north. Its limits varied greatly according to the various dominations until the nineteenth century.
At the confluence of the Rhône and the Durance, Avignon is located at the crossroads of three French departments, the Vaucluse of which it is part, the Gard to the east of the Rhône and the Bouches du Rhône to the south of the Durance.
It is by travelling only a hundred kilometres all around Avignon, that we can quickly realize the diversity of the landscapes, the natural wealth and the architectural and cultural heritage that we can discover there. We will cross the towns and villages of Provence, some perched on rocky spurs. We will hike in the Alpilles or climb the Dentelles de Montmirail. One will marvel at the landscapes colored by the fields of lavender or sunflowers and the hills of ochre, the vines and olive groves, the flamingos in the Camargue. We will make a stop in an abbey or a medieval castle. The sceneries of Cézanne’s paintings can be found in the countryside of Aix-en-Provence and those of Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy and Arles.
Follow us regularly in our journey…
The Pont du Gard
Just twenty kilometres from Avignon, in the direction of Uzès, is a remnant of the Roman Empire: the Pont du Gard, a must-see site in the region.
This nearly 2,000-year-old monument, preserved in exceptional state, is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is part of the aqueduct linking a spring near Uzès to the city of Nîmes.
The Provençal Colorado
a colorful itinerary!Deserts of ocher sands, red rock formations erected vertically, orange cliffs cut into gullies, all under an intense blue sky and a blazing sun. Does that remind you of anything? John Wayne, the scarf around his neck, cowboy boots on his foot and hat on his head in Stagecoach...
In 1947, Jean Vilar created the “Dramatic Art Week in Avignon”. Since then, every year, the greatest texts of the dramatic repertoire and contemporary creations resonate in the most diverse places in and around Avignon. More and more people come to attend and be moved by this great annual event in July, which the Avignon Festival has become. The theatre is constantly reinventing itself and venturing into new horizons unexplored through the contact with other artistic disciplines. Every time, the media and theatre critics seize upon this great cultural event to report on the most emblematic performances that take place in the Cour d’Honneur but also in other sumptuous venues in the City of the Popes.
Through these posts, we wish to retrace the major stages that accompanied the evolution of this Week of Dramatic Art in Avignon to become the Avignon Festival, the world’s largest cultural event in the performing arts. We also want to give you the latest news about the Festival.
76th Avignon Festival
In Avignon, what is called “The Festival” is actually two events: The Festival d’Avignon (known as the “In“) and the Festival Off. This year both festivals start on the same day: July 7th. However, the In will close on the 26th of July, while the Off will end on the 30th of July.
1. The birth of the Avignon Festival
At the end of the Second World War, France, like other European nations, suffered considerably from deprivation and shortages. Cultural creation and its diffusion, heavily dependent on totalitarian regimes, suffered a rupture during this war period. With the return of freedom…
2. The Golden Age of the 1950s Festival
The success began to appear in the early 1950s. A local committee was set up to facilitate the reception and logistics of the work of the Festival teams. It is often claimed that it came about with the entry of Gérard Philipe into Vilar’s troupe…
3. After the initial enthusiasm, the difficulties to be overcome
With the 1960s came the first pitfalls. First of all, there was immense grief, with the premature death of Gérard Philipe at the end of 1959. During the first years, the Avignon Festival…
Avignon shines in France and abroad with its Theatre Festival in July. However, Avignon’s intense cultural activity is not limited to the excitement of its festival. The wealth of its heritage offers exceptional spaces to host many other cultural events, exhibitions, happenings and animations that tourists from all over the world come to attend throughout the year.
We present here the agenda of these events so that your discovery of the historical heritage of Avignon is also an opportunity to take advantage of this news.
After the “Ecce Homo” exhibition by Ernest Ernest Pignon and the “Tigers and Vultures” exhibition by the Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming, it is the latest project by the internationally renowned Franco-Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado that is being shown in the Great Chapel of the Popes’ Palace.