Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the department of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhone river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 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, its historic center, the palace of the popes, Rocher des Doms, and the bridge of Avignon. 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 of Avignon, has far exceeded the French borders.
In the part of the city within the walls, the buildings are old but in most areas they have been restored or reconstructed (such as the post office and the Frederic Mistral High School).Notre Dame des Doms, the cathedral, is a Romanesque building, mainly built during the 12th century, the most prominent feature of the cathedral is the gilded statue of the Virgin which surmounts the western tower.