Avignon (Occitan: Avinhon in classical norm or Avignoun in Mistralian norm) 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 departement 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 July 6-26, known as the Festival of Avignon, has far exceeded the French borders.
Avignon is located at the crossroads of two major communication routes, the north-south saxis linking northern Europe to the Mediterranean Sea and the east-west axis linking Italy and Spain. The city has the most modern means of communication.