The Festival d’Avignon is one of the major cultural events of the French summer.
It is an annual arts festival held in the French city of Avignon every summer in July in the courtyard of the Palais des Papes as well as in other locations of the city.
Founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, it is the oldest extant festival in France and one of the world’s greatest. Alongside the official festival, the “In” one, a number of shows are presented in Avignon at the same time of the year and are known as the “Off”.
The In and the Off
The “In” festival is organized by a non-profit organization which is composed of the French state, the city of Avignon, the Département of Vaucluse, the Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and seven public figures competent in the field of theater. Amongst other places, the “In” Festival is performed in the “Cour d’Honneur” – the honors courtyard – of the Palais des Papes, the place of residence of the Avignon papacy during most of the 14th century. During the “In” festival, which can be seen as the official festival, spectators can see some of the greatest comedians and directors of the theater world.
The “Off” festival is also organized by a non-profit organization composed mostly of theater companies and is performed in theaters schools, streets and all places suitable for performing. Some events are even free during the “Off” festival.
The Court d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes is certainly the most impressing venue of the festival. In the heart of a UNESCO’s World Heritage List monument, this theater can gather 2,000 people. It was here that Jean Vilar started the Festival in 1947 with Shakespeare’s tragedy Richard II.
Other amazing venues are the Carrière de Boulbon, 15 km southwest of Avignon. In this former quarry (carrière in French) which is no longer operated today, everything has to be set up in it, from the electricity to the stage, from the boxes to the snack bar.
Private mansion located right under the Pope’s Palace, La Mirande is a five stars hotel restaurant which welcomes every year some of the Festival’s exhibitions. You can stay in this outstanding hotel during our upgraded Provence Tours.
The Festival d’Avignon is one of the greatest events of the French summer, where tourists and theater lovers from all over the world gather in the beautiful Avignon!