Monday, August 2, 2010

Avignon (sur le pont de)

June 26, 2010

So, on the way home on Sunday, we decided to stop in Avignon.  Mainly, we wanted to see the bridge.   The bridge in Avignon is particularly famous due to a song we enjoy titled:  Sur le Pont d’Avignon.  We parked in a garage.  It had a crazy kind of rubber flooring – it literally squeaked as we drive across it – especially around corners!  Along the edge they had a green colored walkway with little pictures of the town on it.  We came up from underground right into the main square. I have to say, out of all the castles we’ve seen so far, the Palais de Popes (Papal Palace) here was the closest to ones that you see drawn in storybooks – or as part of a kid’s play set! Of course, the ancient-times atmosphere was dimmed by the tourists and the giant upside-down elephant sculpture in the square.

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We focused on our goal, and soon made it to the bridge.   For thousands of years, people had thought it impossible to bridge the super-powerful Rhone river.  Finally, a local shepherd boy (who later became Saint Benezet) was told by God to build this bridge to aid pilgrims on their journey.  He told the townspeople and they thought him mad until he picked up a boulder the size of a small house and threw it in the river.  That inspired everyone and they built the structure between 1171 and 1185.  Yet another of those local miracles that crisscross the history of European architecture!  The Pont St. Benezet bridge still has a small chapel built right into the middle of it, honoring Saint Benezet.  As you can see, it is no longer even a complete bridge – it originally had 22 supports but only 4 remain.  Intense flooding in the Rhone river wiped it out many times and they finally gave up rebuilding it in the 1600’s.  The current on this river was insanely strong – I remember reading it took about 3 days for cargo to travel downstream, and 30 for it to be towed up again by horse-pulled barges…

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Of course – we had to dance! Resized_DSC00007  It’s a great kids song – if you want to learn the moves and hear the music – click on the you tube link.

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

On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there, we all dance there
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there in a ring

[edit] First Verse

Les beaux messieurs font comme ça


Et puis encore comme ça.

The handsome gentlemen do like this (bow)
And then like that

[edit] Second Verse

Les belles dames font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

The beautiful ladies do like this (curtsy)
And then like that

[edit] Third Verse

Les militaires font comme çaResized_DSC00005
Et puis encore comme ça

The soldiers do like this (salute)
And then like that

[edit] Fourth Verse

Les musiciens font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

The musicians do like this (play violin)
And then like that

     

It’s funny that, although the song says you are supposed to dance ON the bridge that is not historically what happened.  People would dance under the bridge on the little islands to avoid the rain.  But hey, that all stopped in the 1600’s and tourists have been dancing ON it for the past 400 years – so maybe it’s not so wrong, anymore.  We stopped at the carousel on the way out….

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Goodbye Avignon – and here’s to the end of another fabulous vacation….

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