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What kind of future for small shops ?

From 17 September to 10 May 2023

Discover in the municipal archives, 6 rue Saluces, in Avignon, an exhibition dedicated to shop fronts.

This exhibition examines the future of small-scale commerce and the shops of yesterday.

Shops in Avignon

Like national commerce in general, shops in Avignon underwent major upheavals during the 20th century. The small shops, in full expansion at the beginning of the century, reflect the evolution of inventions, novelties and lifestyles.

Their establishment, initially within the city walls and in Montfavet, accompanied the urbanisation of the suburbs.

However, at the turn of the “Trente Glorieuses”, they came up against stiff competition from the large shopping centres located on the outskirts of the town. Those shopping centres are nowadays far too large in our department.

As everywhere in France, the democratization of the individual car and the refrigerator, as well as the generalization of women’s work, also profoundly changed customer practices.

The aim of the exhibition is not to create nostalgia for the town centres of yesteryear, but rather to investigate the economic and social history and memory.

It is an opportunity to question the history of local commercial life and the evolution of consumption practices and lifestyles of the inhabitants.

It gives a chance to explore the streets of the town in search of the shops of yesterday, such as the Mouret shop, an old hatmaker located in Rue des Marchands.

It is an interesting societal survey that also allows us to examine the changes in a living environment, what geographers call “lived space”, by raising the question of the evolution of “centralities”, and the notions of “proximity” and “urbanity”.

The City Archives thus propose to explore the “meeting zone” between interior and exterior that constitutes the shop front. Over the course of time and along the streets of Avignon, what do the shop windows show us. These vast and atypical windows open “from outside the street” towards “inside” the shop, the café or the craftsman’s workshop.

Is the doorway an extension of the building’s interior?

Hung in the open air on the “turned” walls of the establishment, this panorama offers us an immersion in the rich iconographic collections preserved… and reveals in the public space what is preserved inside the building.

It is also a call to the constitution of a collective memory, because the Archives d’Avignon are launching at the same time a collection of documents and testimonies on the history of the commercial life of Avignon: inhabitants and (former) shopkeepers: your memories interest us!

Municipal Archives of Avignon
6 rue Saluces – 84000 Avignon


The panels on the street side are accessible 7 days a week and 24 hours a day
Free access
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Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)