The Archbishop’s Palace in Avignon
The Petit Palais is the familiar name given to the residence of the archbishops of Avignon, who ruled the city and the territories of the Comtat Venaissin in the name of the pope until the French Revolution. This nickname is due to the immediate proximity of the Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace), which is even more imposing. Built in several successive building campaigns between the 14th and 18th centuries, the Petit Palais has a surface area of nearly 3,000 m² and two courtyards.
Divided into lots and rented to a tavern keeper, merchants and craftsmen, and even transformed for a time into barracks, the Petit Palais experienced a period of dilapidation during much of the 19th century. For a time, it regained a religious function, housing a minor seminary, before becoming an upper primary school until 1960.
It was in the 1960s that the building changed its destination and regained its superb appearance. The restoration, entrusted to Jean Sonnier, Chief Architect of Historical Monuments, allowed it to be transformed into a museum. The successive arrangements are removed, and the aspects related to the construction phase of the Middle Ages are highlighted. The buildings became once again superb showcases worthy of hosting the most precious works. The Petit Palais museum of Avignon houses several hundred works divided into three large collections.