The Story of the Pont de Avignon

by Jack Guy

Apr 22, 2019

Pont d’Avignon © Typhoonski | Dreamstime

Trends / History

The city of Avignon is home to a famous bridge immortalized in a French children’s song, but why is it so famous?

Originally built over the Rhone river in Medieval times, the Pont d’Avignon started life as a wooden bridge. In 1234, it was upgraded to stone, but the bridge would still collapse every time the Rhone flooded. Due to the high cost of maintenance, the bridge was abandoned in the 17th century, leaving four arches and a gatehouse that stand to this day.

The song inspired by the bridge, “Sur le pont d’Avignon,” dates from the 15th century. It’s still sung today by schoolchildren and students of French. As well as being immortalized in song, the bridge has also been declared a World Heritage site and is considered a landmark in Avignon.

It’s well worth a visit to the city to see the bridge and other attractions such as the Palais des Papes, where several Popes lived after fleeing Rome. Another top attraction is Le Pont du Gard, a three-level stone aqueduct that dates from Roman times. In fact it’s the highest elevated Roman aqueduct ever built, and it’s a magnificent sight to see.

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