CARPENTRAS, a town of south-eastern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Vaucluse 16 m. N.E. of Avignon by rail. Pop. (1906) town, 7775; commune, 10,721. The town stands on the left bank of the Auzon on an eminence, the summit of which is occupied by the church of St Siffrein, formerly a cathedral, and the adjoining law-court. St Siffrein, in its existing state, dates from the 15th and 16th centuries and is Gothic in style, but it preserves remains of a previous church of Romanesque architecture. The rich sculpture of the southern portal and the relics and works of art in the interior are of some interest. The law-court, built in 1640 as the bishop's palace, contains in its courtyard a small but well-preserved triumphal arch of the Gallo-Roman period. Other important buildings are the hospital, an imposing structure of the 18th century, opposite which is a statue of its founder, Malachie d'Inguimbert, bishop of Carpentras; and the former palace of the papal legate, which dates from 1640. Of the old fortifications the only survival is the Porte d'Orange, a gateway surmounted by a fine machicolated tower. Their site is now occupied by wide boulevards shaded by plane-trees. Water is brought to the town by an aqueduct of forty-eight arches, completed in 1734.
Carpentras is the seat of a sub-prefect and of a court of assizes, and has a tribunal of first instance, communal college for girls and boys, a large library and a museum. Felt hats, confectionery, preserved fruits and nails are its industrial products, and there are silk-works, tanneries and dye-works. There is trade in silk, wool, fruit, oil, etc. The irrigation-canal named after the town flows to the east of it (see Vaucluse).
Carpentras is identified with Carpentoracte, a town of Gallia Narbonensis mentioned by Pliny, which appears to have been of some importance during the Roman period. Its medieval history is full of vicissitudes; it was captured and plundered by Vandal, Lombard and Saracen. In later times, as capital of the Comtat Venaissin, it was frequently the residence of the popes of Avignon, to whom that province belonged from 1228 till the Revolution. Carpentras was the seat of a bishopric from the 5th century till 1805.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)