in a verdant haven inside Avignon’s ramparts
This property is to be found in an urban haven, sought-after for its tranquillity, near to the Porte-Saint-Roch entrance gate in the district of the same name (previously the “bourg of miracles”, surrounding a chapel devoted to the Virgin Mary and consecrated in 1327 by Pope John XXII).
Just a stone’s throw from all amenities (train station, shops, and cultural activities in the immediate vicinity), it extends between two little-used streets, away from the main roads. A postern on the west side provides easy access to the banks of the river Rhone.
The town of Avignon has an airport, two stations, including one for TGV trains, and a very recent, much-appreciated tramway which helps to reduce traffic in the historic centre and provides links to the suburbs beyond the city walls.
Under the treetops, this property is set amidst several enclosed verdant areas: one formally planted with boxwood (a discreet homage to the garden of the Order of Minimes, the convent of which used to occupy the premises), the next, exuding a romantic air with its terrace and its trellis, offers a view of a citrus garden and, lastly, a third, with an oriental air, has a swimming pool, resembling an oasis on papal land.
The town side of the house displays a very plain external facade, featuring carefully aligned windows, enhanced with a small alcove, housing a Virgin with Child statuette. It is part of a row of terraced housing constructed on the site of the old Minimes convent. The side of the house facing the courtyard, however, is quite opulent. Its dressed stone facade features a terrasse, with pear-shaped balusters, topped with an arbour. This facade also reveals some old traces of the convent which go hand-in-hand with modern underpinning. The eaves of the gable roof, covered in Roman tiles, are edged with a triple cornice.
The guest house, bordering the street on the opposite side of this verdant haven is the result of a reconstruction on the site of a workshop which extended over large part of the area, now returned to nature. A plain, single-storey building, with a wide window and a garage door on the street side, it too has a very pleasant garden facade, featuring wide French windows. The asymmetrical gable roof is extended on the garden side by a wisteria-covered trellis.
Facing east over the street bearing the same name, its facade features a front door, and three windows, flanked by shutters: one on the ground floor and two on the first floor, aligned with the openings below. On the west side, looking out over the garden, the external facade features a wide window and a French window on the ground floor, topped upstairs with two windows, identical to those on the road side. The house is slightly raised in comparison to the level of the street and even more to that of the garden, such that a terrace, running the full wide of the west facade, is reached from the garden via three steps.
The house, predominantly laid out in a square shape, takes up a segment of the old cloister, of which it still has the thick walls on the east and west sides. The ground floor comprises three rooms (a double living room and a kitchen), laid out in a fan shape around the stairway, set in the south-east corner of the house. The walls are painted strong colours and the white ceilings are discreetly enhanced with fine gypsum moulding, embellishing the cornices. The floors are paved with contemporary stone tiles, inlaid with decoration, blending perfectly with the use of old materials such as a wonderful mantel on the wooden fireplace and a variety of numerous 17th and 18th century ceramic tiles.
The first floor, with a layout more or less identical to the ground floor, comprises a library, with a marble fireplace, illuminated via a window overlooking the street; a bedroom also featuring a fireplace, but facing west over the garden; and lastly, a bathroom, with a bath, a shower and a separate toilet. The same bright colours cover the walls, contrasting with the white-painted ceilings.
The layout on the top floor of the house, set out under the rafters, is different from that of the other floors as the sections under a low ceiling have been converted into storage space. A vast room in use as a bedroom extends under the ridge and is illuminated via a window set in the north gable, overlooking the neighbouring rooftops in the direction of the Popes’ Palace. A bathroom, with a separate toilet, takes up the south-east corner, the roof of which, fitted with windows, protrudes.
Although the lower sections of the old convent appear to have disappeared, a single, small oblong cellar takes up the area under the terrace. it can be reached via a stairway set on the short, north-facing side.
The guest house
Laid out in the same east-west direction as its neighbour, this house looks out more over the garden on the east side since, on the west side, it has but a wide window and a wooden garage door. The external street facade bears witness to its former vocation as a workshop. The house is, in fact, the result of the reconstruction of a vast warehouse, of which it has kept but a small ground surface area. The garden facade features two wide French windows and a door leading to the old garage.
This is, in fact, the one, real level of the house since it takes up three-quarters of the space and the ground surface area of the house. A vast, high-ceilinged, living room, with an open-plan kitchen has been converted directly below the roofing framework, with its truss exposed and its slopes lined with panelling. The walls and the underneath of the roof are painted white and enhanced with the terracotta floor tiles. A shower room, with a separate toilet, takes up the south-west corner of the house, whilst the north side of this level of the building is taken up by an old garage, making it easy to move between the street and the garden.
A stairway in the living room goes up to a long balcony. A door centred under the ridge opens into the only bedroom, illuminated via a skylight.
The garden, the orangery and the swimming pool
Despite the toponymy of the premises being somewhat deceiving, it is possible here to observe the miracle that has been produced beyond the walls. They have preserved the omnipresent sacred character for more than seven centuries. In 1924 in his work “Les délices de l'Italie” (The delights of Italy), Jean-Louis-Vaudoyer wrote: “The beauty and the power of great classical works come as much from the observance of the laws as the secret and involuntary liberties that these works take with them.” Although the work here owes more to time and the needs of mankind than to the original creative genius, the hand of man has remodelled its beautiful contours and recreated a sanctuary where souls can relax.
|Land registry surface area||693 m2|
|Main building surface area||260 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||3|
|Outbuilding surface area||23 m2|
Ménélik Plojoux +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.