The walled city of Avignon was briefly the centre of the Christian world
A BRITISH expat in Australia was once asked what he missed most about England. ‘ ‘ France,’’ he replied. Reminded by this, I took the weekly summer Eurostar from London to Avignon, which proved an ideal destination for a lover of fine weather, fine fare and lots of history.
The medieval traveller would have approached the walled city from the northwest via the Pont Saint-Benezet, then the only bridge across the Rhone from Lyons to the sea and made famous by the catchy French ditty. Built in the 12th century, it originally featured an impressive 22 arches; only four survive.
I have read that the song is not Sur le Pont d’Avignon but Sous le Pont, supposedly sung by the thieves lurking underneath, who danced gleefully at the sight of potential victims entering the city. Certainly, if the cobblestones were anything like they are today, dancing on the bridge would surely have been injurious.
The monumental crenellated
Tour guide Elizabeth Menzies with a young orang-utan