It’s no good, that damn song is stuck firmly in my head. No matter how many times I try and shift it, there it is: ‘Sur le pont….dah, de, dah, de dah.’ Dating back to 1853 when it appeared in an operetta by Adolphe Adam, created for the Opéra Comique in Paris, the annoyingly catchy song is thought to be at least partly responsible for the worldwide popularity of the Pont Saint- Bénézet as a tourist destination.
There’s certainly no shortage of visitors to the bridge, with over 300,000 would-be dancers a year taking a look at what is, after all, only part of a bridge, and I’m one of them. The ambitious project of 22 arches spanning the river between Avignon and Villeneuve-lès- Avignon begun in 1234 was abandoned in the 17th century after repeated flooding of the Rhône river that destroyed all but the four arches and only the gatehouse remains.
The bridge, along with the Palais des Papes and the area surrounding it, has been Unesco World Heritage-listed since 1995.
Steeped in history
The Palais des Papes is a true monument to the sheer power and wealth of the Catholic Church. When conflict erupted between the French crown and the papacy in 1305, the result was the election of a French pope, Clement V, who refused to move to Rome.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Between the white cliffs of the Côte d’Albâtre and the bucolic landscapes of the Pays de Caux, discover a village that combines coast and country,
Taking the BISCUIT
France is known for its exquisite pâtisserie and extravagant gâteaux but the not-so-humble biscuit deserves recognition too
PICTURE PERFECT PISTE
After a decade away from the slopes Janet Brice finds her ski legs in val d'arly, a hidden gem in the shadow of Mount Blanc
Let there BE LIGHT
Lyon’s annual Fête des Lumières brightens up the darkest of December nights in spectacular fashion, finds David Atkinson on a winter visit to the Rhône capital
Shop ‘til YOU DROP
In the first of our new Insight guides, Helen Parkinson delights in the French shopping experience
Floating YOUR BOAT
Spending a day on the River Seine in Paris, Heidi Fuller-love samples some of the city’s top entertainment that can be enjoyed afloat
Paindemic In Paris
For American actor and writer Alexander Burnett, a shortage of bread at his local boulangerie was one of the biggest challenges of lockdown in his adopted home city
BOND RETOUR 7
To celebrate the return of everyone’s favourite globe-trotting British intelligence officer in No Time to Die, Helen Parkinson rounds up five of James Bond’s top cross-Channel escapades
SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE
Loved by generations of artists, this hilltop gem in Alpes Maritimes is just a short bus journey from the bustle of Nice and perfect for a day of exploring, as Lara Dunn discovers
LE CHAT NOIR
Find out how a striking black cat became synonymous with Montmartre’s golden age, says Helen Parkinson
Graham Gauld finds a unique special-bodied S.S. Jaguar 100 under restoration in France
New, Now, Next
As 2021 brings a refreshing new beginning, Avignon Clinic’s founders Chris Cachuela and Benedict Sy gives us a hint on the future of the beauty aesthetic industry