Pont Saint-Benezet – Pont d’Avignon

Pont Saint-Benezet?

Many French people won’t have a clue, if you ask them about its location!

Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon
Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon

But ask them about Le Pont d’Avignon and it’s another story!

They’ll indeed start singing an old song dating back to the 15th century and that they all learned when they were at nursery school…

Sur le Pont d’Avignon

So, the Pont Saint-Benezet is obviously located in Avignon.

This superb city spreads on the banks of the river Rhône in the department of Vaucluse in sunny Provence.

However, you might wonder why a bridge became so famous that a song was written about it?

The Legend

According to legend, the Pont Saint-Benezet was built in 1185 as a result of a miracle.

Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon
Pont Saint-Benezet

An angel indeed led a shepherd, named Bénézet, to Avignon and told him to inform the town notables that they should build a bridge.

These initially ridiculed Bénézet.

However, they changed their mind as he lifted an enormous rock before them!

They indeed became convinced that this was a divine order and immediately set about the construction.

Unfortunately, Bénézet died before the bridge’s completion.

However, he played a significant role as fund raiser, providing money for the building and for the establishment of a local hospital nearby.

Construction of the bridge

The 900m long by 4m wide Pont Saint-Benezet was built in just 8 years!

Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon
Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon

However, the catastrophic flood of 1668 swept away much of the structure.

Its surviving arches have since collapsed or been demolished one by one.

Only four of the initial 22 arches therefore remain intact today.

One of them is flanked by the Chapel of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Boatmen.

The ruined chapel used to shelter St Benezet’s tomb.

No need to say that the Pont Saint-Benezet is one of the most photographed structures in Avignon!

A cafe with music and dance floor was opened under one of the remaining arches.

It obviously became the inspiration for the famous song… Sur le Pont d’Avignon

Here are the lyrics:

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

Verse 1
Les beaux messieurs font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.
Verse 2
Les belles dames font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.
Verse 3
Les filles font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça
Verse 4
Les musiciens font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

Department of Vaucluse – Avignon
Coordinates Pont Saint-Benezet: Lat 43.953852 – Long 4.804878

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