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|Upriver from Arles, the town of Avignon might be most famous for a song taught in elementary school classrooms around the world: "Sur le pont d'Avignon, l'on y danse, l'on y danse." I remember singing this song in my own French classes, but as a child I did not understand its historic connections. The bridge was built in the 12th century, and half of it was washed away by the Rhône River in 1669. Ironically, the bridge itself is too narrow for the dance described in the song. This postcard shows the bridge and several stanzas of the song about dancing on it.|
In history classes, older students learn that Avignon was the capital of Christendom during the 14th century Babylonian Captivity. Seven popes fled here from the corruption of Rome, built a magnificent Papal Palace, and made the town an artistic and cultural center. Avignon remained under Italian control until the French Revolution.
My mother and I walked out onto the bridge under a hot sun and then hiked uphill for a view across the river and surrounding countryside. Some of the magnificent papal palace can be seen in the background of this postcard. Unfortunately, we did not allow ourselves quite enough time to thoroughly tour the palace, and once again we experienced the French practice of evicting visitors at least fifteen minutes before the posted closing time.
Send questions and comments to Elise Allison.
This page was created for INLS 244: Digital Preservation and Access.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Last updated on April 4, 2004.