Monuments and museums

Palais des Papes

Pont Saint-Bénezet

Musée Calvet

Musée du Petit Palais

Musée Requien

Musée lapidaire

Musée du Vieil Avignon

Palais du Roure

Musée du Mont-de-piété

Musée Louis-Vouland

Musée Angladon Dubrujeaud

Maison Jean Vilar

Collection Lambert
Le palais du Roure

In 1469, the Florentine native Pierre Baroncelli acquired the Armoried Tavern and two small houses near the livrée de Poitiers. He used these sites to build his residence.

Even though no official agreement conerning conditions has been found, an inventory dating from 1501 reveals details of the construction. An accounting register mentions one Antoine Colin, « Avignon mason and artisan of the large home of Pierre Baroncelli ». Antoine Colin had worked on the episcopal palace (Petit Palais), whose conception fits with the new aesthetic that rapidly became a model for domestic architecture in Avignon and beyond. Baroncelli followed this trend.

He was Administrator of Julien de la Rovere’s legation at the time. The edifice is composed of four core buildings delimiting an interior court. Among other things, the street-side facade, with its solid ground floor and three windows, dates from this period.

A continuous band separates it from the next story, whose windows are emphasized with sculpted details and drip-molding. The door is surmounted with impressive interwieving branches surrounding a helmet-topped escutcheon, that is itself supported by two figures. This ensemble creates an interesting contrast with the building’s general austerity.

Remodeled according to classical tastes, the Gothic residence was later given the characteristics of a seventeenth or eighteenth century hôtel particulier. Visitors are received at the end of a vaulted passage dating from the first construction and decorated in the nineteenth century with the Baroncelli arms. Along the way one notes the elegance of the surrounding classical facades, embellished with oleander growing in Anduze pottery pots.

From Hôtel to Palace

In the nineteenth century Frédéric Mistral dubbed what was then known as the Hôtel Baroncelli-Javon, as the « Palais du Roure », (roure, a dedicated member of the félibrige, a movement to renew Provençal culture, which met there. In 1908 the family sold the hôtel.

After having suffered considerable damage, it was finally saved in 1918 by the Valence native, Jeanne de Flandreysy. An energetic and determined woman, the collaborator of Jules Charles-Roux and a great admirer and friend of Mistral, she decided to consecrate herself, body and soul, to this « life’s work » : the restoration of the Palais du Roure to its former prestige. Once the restoration work was complete she undertook the creation of a center of Mediterranean culture.

In 1936 she married the eminent archeologist and member of the Institut National de France, Commander Espérandieu. Soon, the creation of the Fondation Flandreysy-Espérandieu added a new dimension to the institution. It was bestowed to the city of Avignon in 1944.

One wing of the building contains libraries and archives concerning Provence, the Langue d’Oc region (anthropology, history, archeology, iconography), and Italian literature of the Middle Ages.

« Musée d’Atmosphère », the Palais du Roure presents a great variety of sometimes unexpected collections, such as John Stuart Mill’s memories of time spent in Avignon. Among its treasures is a rich collection of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Provençal furniture, a fifteenth-century painted ceiling, rare canvasses, murals from the eighteenth century, and a gallery devoted to the Belgian Symbolist painter Henry de Groux (1867-1930), who spent time there.

A entire floor is devoted to Provençal anthropology : eighteenth to twentieth-century santon figurines and mangers, traditional costumes, regional art, and traditional tools. The famous Maillane patache (coach) is on view, as is the press on which were printed both the first edition of Frédéric Mistral’s chef-d’œuvre Mirèio (1859), and the Provençal newspaper L’Aïoli created in the Palais du Roure.

There is much to be learned at the palais about Folco de Baroncelli (called « Lou Marquès », the Marquis, by the caretakers), and his days in the Camargue. At the end of the nineteenth century he became a cattle dealer in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. A great defender of tradition, he also rescued the native horses and cows of the Camargue from extinction. Considered one of the most beautiful residences in Avignon, the Palais du Roure is now an important center of Mediterranean culture.