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Sur Le Pont D'Avignon

According to legend, it was a divinely inspired young shepherd called Benezet who caused the bridge ("le pont") at Avignon to be built. To validate his mission he lifted up an enormous stone block and cast it down at the designated site. The Saint Benezet Bridge was built in the twelth century.

First made of wood, it was the first bridge spanning the Rhone river, dividing line between France and the Holy Roman Empire. Its reconstruction in stone dates from the end of the thirteenth century. Several times mistreated by wars and the flooding Rhone, it was continuously under repair until the seventeenth century when it ceased to be restored. Now only four arches survive of the original twenty-two.

The bridge ended on the Avignon side at the Chatelet tower (fourteenth century), and on the opposite, Villeneuve side at the tower of Philip the Fair (end of the thirteenth century). The Saint Nicolas Chapel, on the bridge, was dedicated to the patron saint of mariners. It has two stories, the lower dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Standing right at the foot of the Chatelet, the recently restored "Mariner's Chapel" was built in the eighteenth century and became the new cult centre for the Rhone boatmen. From this position Louis XIV looked out on Avignon and exclaimed, "it is the most beautiful place in my kingdom".

The song "Sur Le Pont D'Avignon", by an anonymous composer, is now famous all round the world.

Lyrics (version):

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
Les beaux messieurs font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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
Les bell' dames font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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
Les jardiniers font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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
Les couturiers font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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
Les vignerons font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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
Les blanchisseus's font comm' çà
Et puis encore comm' çà

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