Avignon (French pronunciation: [a.viˈɲɔ̃] ; Occitan: Avinhon in classical norm or Avignoun in Mistralian norm) is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city (as of 1 January 2010), about 12,000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.
Often referred to as the "City of Popes" because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism, it is currently the largest city and capital of the département of Vaucluse. This is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts. In addition, its historic centre, the palace of the popes, Rocher des Doms, and the bridge of Avignon are well-preserved. It was classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO under the criteria I, II and IV.
As a showcase of arts and culture, the fame of its annual theatre festival, known as the Festival d'Avignon, has far exceeded the French borders.
The Vaucluse (French pronunciation: [vo.klyz] ; Occitan: Vauclusa in classical norm or Vau-Cluso in Mistralian norm) is a department in the southeast of France, named after the famous spring, the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. The name Vaucluse derives from the Latin Vallis Clausis (closed valley) as the valley here ends in a cliff face from which emanates a spring whose origin is so far in and so deep that it remains to be defined.