University heritage


From the Middle Ages to the Revolution (1303-1793)
From the early Middle Ages, higher education existed in Avignon. In the 13th century, we find traces of schools of theology, grammatical arts and medicine, supported by the Avignon commune.
In 1303, Pope Boniface VIII and Charles II, King of Sicily, Count of Provence (Lord of Avignon) federated these different schools into a real university intended to counter the Sorbonne created in 1257, which was too docile towards its temporal "protector", Philippe Le Bel.

The Pope showered Avignon University with benefits and endowed it with great privileges. From the outset, it had full teaching rights in its four faculties.
The University will be suppressed, like 26 others, by the decree of September 15th 1793 and Avignon will wait until 1963 for the reappearance of a higher education unit in the city.
This Centre then depended on the Faculty of Sciences of Aix-Marseille.

According to Etudes Vauclusiennes n° XXXII of the second semester 1984.

From the Center for Higher Education to the present autonomy
The creation of the Center for Higher Literary Education in 1964 was a response to the strong demographic growth. Placed under the authority of the Faculty of Arts of Aix, the Center was transformed in 1967 into a University Literary College. A year later, the Center for Higher Scientific Education was elevated to the rank of University Scientific College.
In 1972, the creation of the University Centre brought together the two Teaching and Research Units (UER).
It develops until the decree of July 17th 1984, date of the creation of the University of Avignon and Pays de Vaucluse. The University of Avignon and Pays de Vaucluse then had nearly 2,000 students and was divided into three departments (Humanities, Exact and Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences and Languages).
Its development continued steadily with the creation of the University Institute of Technology in 1990, the Legal, Political and Economic Sciences Department in 1991 and the Professionalized University Institute of Computer Engineering in 1992.

In 1997, the University started the academic year for the first time on the new site of the former Sainte-Marthe Hospital, after three years of work.

On May 7, 1998, the Sainte-Marthe site was inaugurated by the President of the Republic, Mr. Jacques Chirac.

In 2006, two new buildings were opened: the sports complex on the Hannah Arendt campus and the Agrosciences Centre on the Jean-Henri Fabre campus.

The buildings

The University's buildings have a unique history.

Hannah Arendt campus
The Faculty of Science, on the Pasteur site, is the University's historic site in the city, a former teachers' training college, with its Third Republic architecture.
The Sainte-Marthe site, a heritage and symbolic place in the area, former hospital of Avignon, is a listed building in its major part and benefits from a contemporary construction and a renowned park.

Jean-Henri Fabre Campus
The most recent site, this campus takes on its full meaning in the reorganization of the University around the Science and Agrosciences Pole and in the links it develops with its socio-economic environment: the Agroparc.
On October 11, 2012, the university community was invited to send in its proposed names for the two campuses of our university. 290 contributions were made. After analysis and grouping, among the proposals, those that came out on top were Jean-Henri Fabre for the Agroparc Campus and Hannah Arendt for the City Centre Campus. They have been so named since the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Exhibition 700 years of the University
You can also visit the exhibition that retraces more than 700 years of our University's history in the school hallway. This exhibition was created in 2003, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary, by the Avignon History Laboratory (LHISA) and the Culture and Communication Laboratory.

The Pharmacy
In 1553 an apothecary shop was installed in the hospital. To manage it, the city council appointed a superintendent who had to take care of the maintenance and the supply of the pharmacy; the apothecary was appointed by the rectors, gathered in a general office which managed the whole hospital administration. His salary amounted to 25 écus per year and he was assisted by a servant and a "souillon".

In 1756, the pharmacy was transferred to the former chapel of the nuns because its previous location was too prone to flooding from the Rhône. The chapel, close to the entrance door, was more centrally located, allowing the distribution of "drugs" to the patients to be monitored. At the back is the laboratory with its equipment of sieves, mortars, stills, scales, syringes and cups. The furniture and elements were regularly inventoried, as in 1738 by the office managers, who noted the presence of 2 large earthenware urns, 4 large paintings (without description), 36 "chevrettes" and 36 "pots à canon" bought from the earthenware merchant Olivier de Montpellier in 1731.

In the inventory of the "drugs" of 1661 appear powders of all kinds, pills, plasters, ointments, quinquina, ipecac, myrrh, mercury, sulfur against the gore, rhubarb. In 1649, vitriol, lemon balm, peach blossoms, gold and silver leaves were purchased for the shop. Many of these products came from the Beaucaire fair and were then transported via the Rhône to the city.

The apothecary is controlled by his colleagues of the city and the rectors of the hospital every 3 years. To obtain his title, he had to follow a training course for 7 years with a master, then undergo an audition in front of the other doctors and make 4 different preparations before taking the oath. His book, in which the names of patients and doctors' prescriptions were recorded, was regularly inspected. The apothecary of the hospital must not distribute remedies to girls or women to avoid encouraging abortions. The medicines were distributed to the patients in the morning and in the evening; moreover, he had the obligation to herbalize in the garden and to improve his knowledge by buying books.

In 1700, the apothecary boys had to prepare theriac, which was used to fight against all diseases in the past. More than 50 products were used in its composition, including dried vipers. The theriac had to ferment in a large container for a certain period of time. This pharmacy continued to function until the eve of the French Revolution.

More information

Please refer to the documents published for the 700th anniversary of the creation of Avignon University, and in particular:

  • the collective work L'Université d'Avignon. Naissance et Renaissance. 1303 ~ 2003, under the direction of Brigitte Bénézet, Acte Sud 2003.
  • the DVD 1303 Université 2003, conceived and directed by Pierre-Louis Suet, produced by the University of Avignon and Pays de Vaucluse.

Date of update June 1, 2021