Alba was the capital of the Helvians and where the first bishops lived and where the first bishops lived. But around 475 the administrative headquarters and the episcopal seat were transferred to Viviers, probably for economic reasons. The Latin name of Vivarium is explained by the presence of fish tanks. The city developed and surrounded itself with two enclosures, the one of the lower town and the one of the upper, religious town. The canons formed the chapter near the bishop. Between 1032 and 1308, the city depended on the Holy Roman Empire before being attached to the kingdom of France. In 1119, the primitive cathedral was rebuilt. A monumental door, the St Michel tower-gate marked the entrance of  the canons’ quarter . The fourteenth century was a difficult period: ravages of the "road", plague. The ramparts were consolidated and the inhabitants took refuge inside the walls.


But in the fifteenth century the craft and trade developed (leather work, cloth looms, fullers, wheat mills and oil). Two suburbs were created on both sides of the city. Bishop Claude de Tournon rebuilt the choir of the cathedral in flamboyant Gothic style. At the Renaissance the city is decorated with beautiful facades including the House of Knights. In 1562 and 1567 the Protestant troops led by Noël Albert, rich merchant and owner of the Knights' House devastated the upper town and part of the cathedral.


In the 18th century the mansions of Roqueplane, Beaulieu and Tourville were built, as well as the episcopal palace and a new seminary, outside the walls of the city.


At the Revolution the bishop took an oath to the Constitution; the headquarters of Viviers was abolished until 1823. In 1833, this was the beginning of Lafarge and, around 1900, the creation of the current port whose activity with cruise ships is growing.


Viviers is one of the three protected areas of the Rhône-Alpes region with 9 listed monuments and 8 registered on your supplementary list of Historic Monuments. The advertising flyers describe the city as an "open-air architecture museum".