Not many cities have their medieval ramparts still intact, but Avignon does. These walls and towers still encircle the inner city, called “intra-muros” (inside the walls). In most places the walls are still (or again) in good repair.
Like a lot of things in Avignon (and in Villeneuve lez Avignon, across the river), these walls were built in the fourteenth century during the time of the Popes. Specifically, the walls were begun in 1355 during the pontificate of Innocent VI for the purpose of protecting the city from attacks by the Grandes Compagnies, which were bands of mercenary soldiers who were unemployed in times of peace, so they joined together to form armed bands of robbers. The walls were finished in 1370 under Pope Urbain V.
From the start, the walls also had a secondary purpose, which was to protect the city from being flooded by the Rhône River during periods of high water.
Location, aerial view and photo of the ramparts on monumentum.fr.
This Centennial Monument (Monument du Centenaire) was put up in the year 1891 to commemorate an important event that had happened a hundred years earlier.
The event was that in 1791, during the French Revolution, Avignon finally became a part of France, which it hadn’t been up to then.
Originally the monument stood on the main square of Avignon, the Place de l’Horloge, in front of the opera house and the city hall, but it was moved to its current location near the river in 1974. I’m not surprised that the monument was moved, since it was designed in a style of nineteenth-century pathos that not many people can identify with today. Also the monument was too large for its former location, and made everything seem out of proportion.
At the base of the monument there is there is not only a lion, but also a quotation from a speech given by the mayor of Avignon in 1891, pointing out that during its long history Avignon had been conquered three times by different Kings of France, but always resisted and never really became a part of France until it did so voluntarily during the French Revolution.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2018.
See more posts on Avignon.