Avignon is a city in southeastern France on the Rhône River.

It is located on the left bank of the river, near where the river is divided into two channels by the island of Barthelasse

Avignon lies at the foot of a rocky outcrop known as the Rocher des Doms, which contains a public garden and the Palace of the Popes.

Pont Saint-Bénezet is a bridge across the Rhône in Avignon. It was built between 1177 and 1188. The bridge originally contained 22 arches and linked Avignon to Barthelasse and to the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Today all that remains of Pont Saint-Bénezet are four small arches and a small chapel on the side of the bridge.

Avignon has a long, rich history that goes back to the time of ancient Rome. Today, however, it is a thriving, lively city.

Cafés and restaurants bustle with activity. There are many cinemas and art galleries.

An international festival of drama takes place during the summer.

The Crocodile Farm houses nine species of crocodile, giant tortoises and tropical birds. It is located inside a greenhouse with more than 600 species of tropical plant.

Avignon was once an ancient Roman city.

The old Roman site was covered by a medieval town.

All of Avignon's medieval walls are still standing.

The Church of St Didier, which was built in the Provencal Gothic style, contains 14th century frescoes and a 15th century reredos.

French paintings from the 16 through 19th centuries can be found in the Musée Calvet.

There are Renaissance mansions along the rue de la Masse, the rue de Lices and the rue de Roi René.

Avignon's historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Popes in Avignon

For about 70 years during the 13th and 14th centuries, Avignon was the residence of the popes. At the time, Rome had become a lawless city, overrun with thieves, and the popes felt that they, and their possessions, were better off somewhere else.

In 1309, Pope Clement V, who was French, moved the papacy to the Comtat Venaissin, near Avignon.

The Holy See was moved to Avignon by Pope John XXII, who was Pope from 1316 to 1334.

In 1376, the Holy See was returned to Rome under Pope Gregory XI.

After the death of Gregory XI, the papacy was contested and there were popes and antipopes. Clement VII, an antipope who was supported by Charles V of France, resided in Avignon between 1342 and 1394. He was succeeded by Benedict XIII, who also resided in France. The King of France did not like Benedict XIII, and Benedict left France early in the 15th century.

The Palace of the Popes is located on the slopes of the Rocher des Domes.

It was designed and built by French architects and decorated by Italian mater painters.

The palace was designed to serve as a fortress, protecting the treasures of the Catholic Church.

Today, the palace is gloomy and desolate, but it was magnificently furnished when the popes and antipopes were in residence.

The Petit Palais, which was built between the 14th and 15th centuries, was originally a lodging place for visiting dignitaries. In 1958, it was restored and turned into a museum containing medieval Italian artwork.

After the fall of Napoleon in the 19th century, a Corsican regiment was installed at the palace. Pieces of plaster with the best parts of paintings attached were removed from the walls of the palace and sold to art lovers.