A Famous French Bridge
Le Pont d'Avignon

Worksheet

Avignon is a historic town in the south of France in the région called Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.  This area is also referred to as Région Sud.

In Avignon, you will find the ruins of a very famous bridge.  The bridge is known as le pont d'Avignon or le pont Saint-Bénézet and it was built across the River Rhône between the years 1177 and 1185.

Nowadays, the bridge receives around 400,000 visitors per year and it is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In French, this status is known as le Patrimoine Mondial.

Originally, it was a very long bridge standing on twenty-two arches.  It was about 900 metres in length.   It is four metres in width.

Eventually, the bridge fell into very poor condition.  It has been repaired over the centuries but eventually they stopped repairing it.   Now only four arches remain.  A small chapel is built on the side of the bridge.  This is the Chapel of St. Nicholas - la Chapelle de Saint-Nicolas.

Below is a video of a 3D reconstruction of what the bridge originally looked like.

The Story of the Bridge
A twelve-year-old shepherd boy called Bénézet saw angels who told him to build a bridge across the dangerous river where many people had drowned.  He went to tell the bishop of Avignon - l'évêque d'Avignon - about his vision but everyone laughed at him.

The bishop challenged him to lift a giant rock and to throw it into the river, in order to prove that God was giving him strength.   The little shepherd boy did indeed lift the heavy stone all by himself, threw it into the river and declared that it was the first stone of the bridge that he was going to build.

Everybody changed their mind!  This was a miracle!  How could a little boy manage so easily to lift a rock that required thirty men to do so?  They now saw that the boy's strength had come from God and decided to help Bénézet to build the bridge.   

The shepherd boy is now known as Saint Bénézet and many Christian pilgrims visit the bridge that he built. 

Bénézet died young from exhaustion, at the age of around eighteen years.  He did not live long enough to see the finished bridge which was completed a year or so after his death.  He was laid to rest in the chapel of Saint-Nicolas that is constructed on the side of the bridge.  Later, his resting place was moved to the church called la Collégiale Saint-Didier d'Avignon.

Saint Bénézet's feast day is 14 April.  He is also known as Petit Benoît.

Saint Bénézet is the patron saint of architects because of the great bridge that he built.  He is often seen in images as a shepherd boy carrying a heavy stone. 

There is a famous French song about people dancing on the bridge.  It is called 'Sur le pont d'Avignon.'

The rules when singing the song:- Everyone moves in a big circle, holding hands.  Then, there is a part of the song where everyone stops for the boys to bow and the girls to curtsey. 

Below is a version.

Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse.
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tous en rond.

Les petits garçons font comme ça. (The boys bow.)
Les petites filles font comme ça.   (The girls curtsey)

Les petits
 garçons font comme ça. (The boys bow.)
Les petites filles font comme ça.   (The girls curtsey)

Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse.
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tous en rond.


Les beaux garçons font comme ça. (The boys bow.)
Les belles filles font comme ça.   (The girls curtsey)

Les beaux
 garçons font comme ça. (The boys bow.)
Les belles filles font comme ça.   (The girls curtsey)


Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse.
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tous en rond.





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 Site updated: 7 April 2020    
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