Avallon is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France.
Avallon is located (34 km.) south-southeast of Auxerre
, served by a branch of the Paris
railway. The town, with wide streets and picturesque promenades, is finely situated on a flat promontory, the base of which is washed on the south by the Cousin
, on the east and west by small streams.
Chance finds the coins and pottery fragments and a fine head of Minerva
are reminders of the Roman settlement carrying the Celtic name Aballo
, a mutatio
or post where fresh horses could be obtained. Two pink marble columns in the church of St-Martin du Bourg have been reused from an unknown temple (Princeton Encyclopedia
). The Roman citadel, on a rocky spur overlooking the Cousin valley, has been Christianized
("Mount of the Martyrs").
In the year 470, the Romano-British king, Riothamus, disappeared (and presumably died) in the neighborhood of Avallon after being defeated by the Goths, against whom the Western Roman Emperor Anthemius had hired him to fight. This, and other aspects of his reign, has made him a candidate for the historical King Arthur, with Avallon becoming Arthurian Avalon.
Avallon (Aballo) was in the Middle Ages the seat of a viscounty dependent on the duchy of Burgundy; on the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, it passed under the royal authority. The castle, mentioned as early as the seventh century, has utterly disappeared.
Its chief building, the formerly collegiate church of St Lazare
, dates from the twelfth century, on an earlier foundation dedicated to Notre Dame. Vestiges of the earlier church were revealed beneath the high altar in an excavation of 1861. The acquisition of a relic of Saint Lazare prompted its rededication: Saint Ladre
is attested in the fourteenth century. It was the seat of an archdeaconate answering to the bishop of Autun
. The two western portals are densely adorned with sculpture in the Romanesque
style; the tower on the left of the facade was rebuilt in the seventeenth century. The Tour de L'Horloge, pierced by a gateway through which passes the Grande Rue, is an eleventh century structure containing a museum on its second floor. Remains of the ancient fortifications, including seven of the flanking towers, are still to be seen. Avallon has a statue of Vauban
, the military engineer of Louis XIV.
The manufacture of biscuit
, and the leather and farm implements supports the economy in Avallon, and there is considerable traffic on wood, wine, and the live-stock and agricultural produce in the surrounding country.
The public institutions include the subprefecture, a tribunal of first instance, and a communal college.
Avallon is twinned with: