Avignon was born in Saint-Paul-le-Froid, a commune in Occitanie’s Lozère department, as the fourth child of a shepherd and his wife. His mother died when he was eight months old, and was then raised by his elder sister.
Avignon avoided the draft for World War I due to being one centimetre too short. His brother died during the conflict. Avignon later became a farmer and horse trader. He moved to the commune of Alès in the 1930s, and retired in 1956.
Avignon was married to his wife, Mathilde, until her death in 1993 aged 94. He then moved in with one of their four daughters.
On 10 November 2006, following the death of then-French male longevity recordholder Maurice Floquet, Avignon became France’s oldest living man. He was the eighth man in the country to attain supercentenarian status, doing so in February 2007.
Avignon died on 23 August 2007 at the age of 110 years, 202 days. His successor as the oldest living man in France was then-109-year-old Louis de Cazenave.