FR: en / à Avignon, Arles, Antibes, etc.

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by relaxedme, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. relaxedme New Member

    The problem with à/en has been brought up in other threads but since they are closed I have decided to open a new one. Please feel free to move it to a better place.
    From the information provided in this forum I understand that whilst it should be 'habiter à Avignon` (since it is a city), one uses en because it is easier to pronounce. Do we do this with all the cities beginning with the vowel a or just with Avignon? Many thanks once again.
  2. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    First, the use of en before cities is definitely not related in any way to the pronunciation. As a matter of fact, en used to be used in the Middle Ages before cities, especially in Southern France.

    Nowadays, the use of en with Avignon is definitely a special case specific to this city (which also happened to be a papal state in the 14th and 15th centuries) and to a few others, especially to those beginning with an A such as Arles.

    At any rate, you can still use à with these cities (including Avignon). Even more so, à is far more common than en. In short, I recommend using à before all cities, but would keep in mind that en is also possible for a select few such as Avignon…
  3. Ellea1

    Ellea1 Senior Member

    Southern French

    We said à Avignon et en Arles.:) I was about to say 'en Avignon', but after checking I come across a website about Avignon which says 'à Avignon'.

    Here is the link You will be able to read it in English.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  4. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    I think that nowadays nobody says "en Arles". I always heard "à Arles" like "à Avignon".
  5. Ellea1

    Ellea1 Senior Member

    Southern French

    It is always 'en Arles'. Only, people who are not from the 'Pays d'Arles' don't particularly know that. I made the mistake and was corrected. :)

    Or the way to say it has changed and nobody told me lol
  6. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Then you were wrongly corrected because à Avignon and à Arles are definitely also correct! :p
  7. Ellea1

    Ellea1 Senior Member

    Southern French
    I have just checked with a friend living in Avignon.

    Apparently either en an à are accepted regarding Avignon and Arles :)
  8. Yelrihs36 New Member

    I'm writing a reply to a friend of mine and I wanted to say that "I would love to return to Montpellier but I also want to go to Antibes" and I have a problem with the "to Antibes" part... I know that for cities the general rule is to use à, but what if the city name starts with a vowel? Because "à Antibes" sounds strange to me... Is it similar to Avignon where I would have to use en?
  9. atcheque

    atcheque mod errant

    Česko - Morava
    français (France)

    à Antibes:tick:
    en Avignon :tick: n'est qu'une particularité (avec Alexandrie).
  10. snarkhunter

    snarkhunter Senior Member

    France, Région parisienne
    French - France
    ... Alexandrie ?!
    N'aurais-tu pas voulu dire plutôt Arles ?

    A ma connaissance, Avignon et Arles sont en effet les deux exceptions françaises, justifiées par le fait que ces deux communes aient jadis été des royaumes.
  11. atcheque

    atcheque mod errant

    Česko - Morava
    français (France)
    Oui, il y a Arles aussi. (Je mets jamais les pieds là-bas mais je lis Astérix :))
  12. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Quand on parle de la ville, il faudrait privilégier le à: à Avignon, à Arles. Voici une belle explication sur l'évolution des deux. "À Alexandrie ou en Alexandrie", c'était dans Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre, mais là encore il faudrait dire et écrire à Alexandrie pour la ville.
  13. Toastrack

    Toastrack Senior Member

    British English - which might be expected to know - says 'la formule " en Avignon ", si elle permet d’éviter un hiatus quelque peu dissonant, est toutefois incorrecte lorsqu’elle s’applique à la ville contenue dans ses limites communales.' But that it would be acceptable - for historical reasons - if you were referring to the town of Avignon and the surrounding areas.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  14. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2014
  15. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    « par imitation de l'usage occitan ou par l'archaïsme, on a employé « en » à la place de « à » devant les noms de villes qui commencent par « a ». (Grevisse).
    Suivent des exemples pris chez les meilleurs auteurs : en Aix, Alès, Amiens, Aubervilliers, Alger, Alep, Alexandrie etc.
  16. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Dans un des fils qu'a posté Jann, on parle aussi d'Antibes. Presque tout le monde s'accorde à dire qu'il faut dire à Antibes.

    L'Académie française donne cette explication:

    De plus, selon Le Français correct : Guide pratique des difficultés, on trouve ceci:

  17. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I have relatives living in Antibes and I can confirm that the only possible preposition is à, vivre à Antibes, se rendre à Antibes. As for en Arles, en Avignon, it sounds a bit old-fashioned, as it was already said.

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