On a guided tour of Avignon a few days earlier, I had learned that in the fourteenth century the word livrée had a special meaning in Avignon and especially in Villeneuve lez Avignon. Back then, a livrée or livrée cardinalice was an elaborate residence, more like a palace, for one of the cardinals of the church.
The livrée in my first photo was originally the residence of Cardinal Bertrand du Pouget (1280–1352) and later Léonard de Griffon (also known as Leonardo Rossi de Giffone).
Six centuries later, in the 1930s, the poet, editor, publisher and resistance member Pierre Seghers lived in this building. This is where he started his first publishing house, Les Éditions de la Tour, in 1938. The building is now private property and is not open to the public.
Location and aerial view of the Livrée Pouget/Giffon on monumentum.fr.
Avignon in the fourteenth century was reputed to be — in the words of the poet Petrarch (1304-1374) — “the most foul and stinking city on Earth”. For this reason, several of the cardinals preferred to live on the other side of the river in Villeneuve, rather than in Avignon itself, because in Villeneuve the air was thought to be cleaner and safer. This was an important consideration in a century when the plague might break out at any time.
Presumably the cardinals had to go over to Avignon quite often, for their dealings with the pope or whatever it was they did, but for that there was a bridge, which in those days still crossed the Rhône on 22 arches to connect Avignon with Villeneuve.
This picturesque dead-end street leads to La Thurroye, a fragment of another Cardinal’s palace or livrée from the 14th century.
La Thurroye was built on orders of the Cardinal de Dèaux around 1340. Sixteen years later the Cardinal of Bologne added a large reception hall which (unusually for that era) was especially constructed at ground level, with no stairs. This was so it would be accessible for the Pope Innocent VI, the fifth Avignon Pope, who apparently was handicapped and could not climb stairs.
Location and aerial view of La Thurroye on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.