The most known bridge in the world and its song …

I’m pretty sure many people know by heart this traditional French song or at least heard of it once in childhood.

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond…

(On the bridge of Avignon
We’re all dancing, we’re all dancing
On the bridge of Avignon
We’re all dancing round and round…) 

Legendary bridge of Avignon over the famous river – Rhône 

This very old song, dated back to 15th century, but somehow became so popular and survived until now, after 700 years! The lyrics have been changed several times and the new lyrics were created in 1843, very close to the ones we know today.  Every year nearly million of tourists coming  to  Avignon just to see the bridge, to walk on it…as I did …to fly back to my childhood times.

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse …

Les beaux messieurs font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

(The fine gentlemen go like this (bow)
And then again like this.)

The song about a dance performed, actually not on the bridge but under the bridge…I knew this song when I was kid, we even performed the same dance with my teammates in the boy scouts, in the Zoo. Some of us dressed up like girls as we danced in pairs.

 Only 4 of 22 stone arches remained after over 800 years surviving…

I left Carcassonne early in the morning and arrived to Avignon before noon. The beautiful weather – sunshine, cool breeze, the town looks so joyful, warmly-welcome, unlikely some other towns. Maybe more down to South, people seems more friendly, more open?

Avignon’s central boulevard, Rue de la République, straight from train station to centre…

I went to the Office of Tourism, tried to get some informations, it’s so crowded there in the office, probably in the high season. The lavender season, the magical light show “Les Luminessences d’Avignon” and along with Pond d’Avignon, Palais des Papes  (The Popes Palace) is another architectural jewel, the largest Gothic palace in all of Europe…

 Palais des Papes where the show “Les Luminessences d’Avignon” starts every night from mid August to end of September. 
Palais des Papes (Popes Palace) – view from the bridge d’ Avignon

After the office of Tourism, I need to find a good place for lunch, on the open air, the terrace so I could enjoy the joyful crowd. I order a bowl of fish soup, it’s good, a bit spicy but I need that spicy flavor to warm me up after eating a lot of cold sandwich, cold cuts on the road and my salad Nicoise – simply delicious!

My salad Nicoise served with rice!

After my quick lunch, I’m heading to Pond d’ Avignon (another name – Pond de Saint Bénézet), it takes me just a little bit of time to find the way out to the riverside. And when the bridge appears right in front of me, some mixed feelings, hard to describe, occupied my mind, it brought me back to my times in my primary school. The memories of the my childhood, the Surprise and the Joy when I’m finally here, in Avignon!

I had a quick nap on the grass on the right hand side… 
View to the river from a small chapel St Nicolas on the bridge  

There’s a legend that a 12-year old shepherd, Bénézet, heard the voice of the Lord, instructing him to have a bridge built…and it took 8 years, from 1177 to 1185, to construct the first wooden bridge, that’s why the bridge has been named after the boy – Saint Bénézet, after made him a saintbut the first wooden bridge was destroyed 40 years later during the war and until 1234 the bridge was rebuilt with 22 stone arches and after nearly 800 years only 4 arches remained.

My first steps on the bridge, I feel like I’m going back to my childhood. 

I stayed in Avignon only for one night, the hotel not far from the train station, small boutique hotel, I got three keys – one for the main entrance door, second one for my room and the last one for the shared toilet! The hotel closed at 9:00 PM. Luckily all three keys are always with me, after a long night in downtown. 

Some road right behind the Palais de Papes

Talking about the light show in France, in major cities the local authorities tried to attract the tourists by organizing the light show to introduce their long history with all freaking terrible royal intrigues or their cultural beauty…I’ve been to the light show in Blois but that show can’t be compared with the gorgeous show in Avignon, at the Palais des Papes, with over 5000 m² of projection and 360º video by a famous, talented director Bruno Seillier

The Palais des Papes at night before the show

The light show in Avignon considered as the only one monumental event in summer in Provence, more than hundred thousands visitors are witnessing the most spectacular sound and light show of the year – “Les Luminessences d’Avignon”(*) in one architectural jewel – Palais des Papes.

I’m so happy to be one among thousands and thousands spectators to witness the event. After that night, back to the hotel and even till now I’m still impressed with not only the images, the lights under the deeply dark sky, the music but also the voice over. It’s definitely unforgettable!

The unique show by Bruno Seillier is about to start…
the fabulous show on more than 5000 m² of projection, with 15 video projectors
telling us about the history of Popes Palace…It housed Europe’s largest library, and became a hotbed for thinkers, philosophers, composers, and musicians…
Different generations of Popes living in the Palace after moving from Rome to Avignon
The ups and downs of the Palace…
there was a very hard time for the Palace during the French Revolution in 1789…
the Palace was seized and ransacked and in 1791, many counter-revolutionaries were killed on site …

I spent only one night in Avignon, I couldn’t see many things in this lovely city, but at least I already saw what I wish, the Avignon bridge reminds me very much of my childhood time in my primary school, where my late mother also used to be a teacher, my times in boy scouts…

The old town  charm, the peaceful riverside along the Rhône…I don’t know when I will come back to Avignon, maybe I just want to keep my first feelings, impressions about this town unchanged. Goodbye, Avignon! Goodbye, the bridge of my childhood!

(*) I was informed that the show “Les luminessences d’Avignon” in no longer in town! 

3 thoughts

  1. That’s interesting about the French song. It made me think of London Bridge is falling down. I had a look at the origin for that and no-one is too certain whether it relates to when the Romans left (and the bridge kept falling down) or whether it was to do with a Viking who pulled it down in 1014 ( which inspired a 13th Norse poem about it). And of course, there was the other London Bridge was sold to America!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the info. Now I know what could be my next post – The London bridge! The song’s history seems also interesting, with different versions, meanings same as the “Pont d’Avignon!” Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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