Sur le pont D’Avignon ….

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I’ve been treating myself to a mini-break this week spending time with our adorable grandchildren, golfing, going out to dinner with friends and later today we are going to a family wedding.

My manuscript for novel #2 is with an editor and when I hear back from him, the fun begins! I love the editing and revising part of writing. The insightful and helpful comments and observations from my beta readers (who are such an important part of the whole process) will be carefully considered when I get back to work on the MS in a week or two. A HUGE shout-out to all of them! More about  this on Tuesday.

Now it’s time to go to France and today we are stopping in beautiful Avignon, situated in the southeastern Vaucluse region, just over 100 kilometres north of Marseille. (It’s also a town that has a part to play in my novel #2. Guess how much fun I had writing about that?)

Most Canadian schoolchildren, and apparently those in many other countries around the world, learn to sing “Sur Le Pont D’Avignon” as part of their introduction to the French language.

When we first visited this historic and well-preserved town, I was excited about seeing the famous bridge. I’m not sure why, but I really was! Obviously, I hadn’t read the guidebook and travel information too carefully because I was in for a surprise.

Entering through the gates of  the preserved walls that have protected the old town for centuries, we wandered the winding streets and treated ourselves to a Papaline or two, which taste way better than they look! The signature sweet of the area, they are actually chocolate filled with a special liqueur made of honey and 60 local herbs.

Then we toured the magnificent and ghostly Palais Des Papes, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic structures in Europe. Avignon is often referred to as the “City Of Popes” since the seat of the Catholic Church moved here from Rome between 1309 and 1377 during the Catholic schism. I’m sure some great mystery novels have been set in these buildings and surroundings! A sense of foreboding and danger filled the vast empty halls.

Our first view of the bridge, properly known as Pont Saint Bénezet, was from a park on top of a rocky outcropping. Mon Dieu … there seemed to be something missing.

Built between 1171 and 1185, the bridge spanned the Rhone River from Avignon to the left bank. Due to flooding, it suffered many collapses and after numerous repairs was finally put out of use in the 1600’s after a catastrophic flood. It stood abandoned for centuries as the river continued to erode the structure and now only 4 arches remain from the original 22.

The original version of the song was “Sous le pont d’Avignon” as there were cafés and dance halls under the arches on a small island the bridge crossed over. People would have danced there under the arches and not on top of the bridge.

In case you find yourself humming the song (trust me, once you start it’s hard to stop!), you can sing along here.

Have you visited Avignon or read any stories set in this town? Did you learn “Sur le pont d’Avignon” in school? Was there a childhood tune you learned that has stayed with you through the years?


Published by patriciasands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada when she isn't somewhere else, particularly the south of France. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her first Kodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. Much to her surprise a few years ago, she began to write and has now published three novels, including two that are part of a six-book series set in the south of France. Love France? Love her work! Check out her website She is particularly drawn to the rewarding friendships of women and the challenges many embrace once their families are grown. "It's never too late to begin something new," she enthuses. "As the saying goes, just do it!"

20 thoughts on “Sur le pont D’Avignon ….

  1. My elder son is obsessed with the Pont d’Avignon (probably because of the song). I’ve promised him for a few years now that we will go to see it – and this year we will finally make it. I have tried to warn him that there is not much of it left…
    Luckily, his second-favourite song is ‘Promenons-nous dans les bois’ and we have plenty of woods around our home!

    1. I’m sure your son will find many other things that please him in Avignon with it’s mystery-filled buildings and intriguing history. Have a wonderful holiday!

  2. Yes, you’re right. Even WAY back in my day, we sang that song in school, and this was in northern BC where no one had any reason to speak French. But we loved it! Thanks for the lovely photo tour.

    1. I’m still very curious as to how that little ditty became so popular in schools around the world! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I see you have a birthday coming up … best wishes!

  3. *Drooling* Oh what I would give for a bite of those papalines! They look scrumptious! You’ve so put the travel bug in me. Except now I wish I was going to France instead of yellowstone…the park isn’t notorious for its chocolate. 😦

    1. LOL – I’m sure you will find something scrumptious in beautiful Yellowstone! Have a wonderful road trip and we will be waiting for lots of great stories from you. Save travels!

  4. Now that the Tour is finished, I have to get my French fix from your Friday posts, how I wish they were everyday! Those papalines look and sound scrumptious. Since my French isn’t up to par, I can only understand about a fourth of the song. It’ll be buzzing in my head all day ~ maybe I’ll figure out what it’s saying by osmosis!

  5. It’s always a bittersweet time when the Tour ends, isn’t it? I’m going to post a list of some really awesome blogs from France …especially for you, so you can enjoy your daily fix!

  6. I soooo want to go there! Stunning. Your photography is absolutely amazing Patricia and I love how your post draw us in and give us a real taste of France. Beautiful. It’s so nice to drift away for a few minutes reading your posts….ahhhhhh!!!!

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