Jesuit missionary; b. Angoulême, France, July 21, 1654; d. 1698. While teaching mathematics and philosophy in Paris (1684), he was assigned to find an overland route to China independent of the Portuguese. Avril went by Aleppo to Kurdistan and Armenia. Detained at Astrakhan, he turned north by the Volga to Moscow, but was expelled from Russia. After a long stay in Warsaw he returned to France by Constantinople in 1690. His Voyages (1692), an account of his travels, was translated into many languages, including English in 1693. A promised history of Muscovy did not appear. On his second attempt to reach the Far East he was lost at sea.
Bibliography: e. lamalle, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912—) 5:1251. j. balteau, Dictionnaire de biographie française, (Paris 1929—) 4:905. j. sebes, The Jesuits and the Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk, 1689 (Rome 1961).