Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and the City of the Popes: only the Rhône separates the two; history indisputably links them.
Around 1000 AD, the Benedictine monks built the St André Abbey on Mount Andaon. The little market town of Saint André then became a fortress and a military outpost, under the influence of the king, Philippe Le Bel, who wanted to control access to the Rhône between Avignon and the Gard following annexation to the French crown.
A fortress town enjoying a good life in the 14th century, built on the hills and quite tree-filled, the commune of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon became considered a faubourg of Avignon.
At that time, just as with Avignon, it saw its economic development soar. Cardinals and other prelates built for themselves there vast villas, their palaces, sheltered from view and guaranteeing them comfort and safety.
Villeneuve lez Avignon and Fort Saint-André
Philippe le Bel Tower in Villeneuve lez Avignon
Villeneuve les Avignon and the Fort Saint-André
It should be emphasized that the 13th century Saint Bénezet Bridge, linked to the Philippe le Bel Tower, modified and facilitated travel and, more particularly, trade, even if before and after its destruction the crossing of the Rhône was done mostly by boat.
Abandoned in the 15th century following the departure of the pontifical court, the town still conserved a few treasures highly prized by art and history lovers, such as the 14th century ivory statue of the Virgin in the Notre-Dame Church, the Coronation of the Virgin by Enguerrand Quarton at the Museum Pierre de Luxembourg, the mural in the chapel of the hall of mirrors by Matteo Giovannetti in the Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction and, of course, the tomb of Pope Innocent IV.
Villeneuve-lès-Avignon remains, thanks to its undulating landscape and its architectural beauty, a much-loved place to visit, notably by the people of Avignon themselves. They are delighted to be able to enjoy the natural and historic panoramic views from there: the Mont Ventoux, the Alpilles, the Rhône, the gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on the Rocher des Doms and, of course, the Popes' Palace.
It's nice to walk around there on market days; the big Provençal market takes place on Thursdays; Saturdays are reserved for the antique market where you can enjoy a platter of mussels from Bouzigues.
In July, the days in the town are livened up by Villeneuve en Scène. Since 2004, this festival hosts traveling theatre troupes in partnership with the Avignon Theatre Festival.
Places to visit :
- St André Abbey and its gardens
- The Philippe Le Bel Tower
- The Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction
- The Cardinals' Palaces
- Pierre de Luxembourg Museum
- Notre Dame collegiate church and its cloister
- The Mourgues Hill, chapel and hermitage
Activities and Festivities
- Aérodrome in Pujaut: Parachuting and free fall, glider club...
- Park of the Cosmos
- The Visiatome in Marcoule
- Villeneuve en scène: Festival coordinated with the Avignon Theatre Festival
- Manguin Distillery - Barthelasse Island
- Olive oil mill of the Chartreuse: boutique and restaurant