Pont D'Avignon


Most will know the song Sur Le Pont D'avignon, and today we've walked from the Hostel to visit the famous site, and John and Di danced on the bridge to the orchestra singing, then returned to the Hostel for a swim before lunch.


The 12th century Avignon bridge is known as the Pont d'Avignon in the nursery rhyme or officially as the Pont Saint-Benezet. It forms part of the UNESCO listed historical centre of Avignon.

Only part of the bridge now remains - four out of an original 22 arches stretching only part way across the Rhone - but it remains one of the most popular attractions in Avignon.



History of the bridge


Bénézet was a simple shepherd with an uncanny ability to make people listen when he spoke, and it was he who had the idea for the bridge and who initiated the fund-raising, after reputedly hearing the voice of God instructing him to have the bridge built.


Until that time it was necessary to cross the river in a boat (although it is possible the Romans had a bridge at the same location). The completion of the bridge dramatically increased traffic across the river - and also raised a great deal of money for the local council, who charged a toll for each crossing.

The bridge is built on foundations of oak - great oak trunks up to a metre across were sharpened (like pencils), the pointed ends reinforced with iron straps, and the wooden posts then driven into the river bed. This provided the base on which the stone bridge could then be built.

There is also a chapel on the bridge dating from the 12th century, where the tomb of Bénézet was originally held - the lower part dates from the 15th century.

Frequent damage meant the bridge was often repaired over the following centuries, until finally being abandoned after severe damage in the 17th century.


Sammy is our windsock on the way back to the Hostel.