Saint-Bénézet and his famous bridge.

Le Pont d'Avignon.
In Avignon, a town in the south of France, 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. 

Originally, it was a very long bridge standing on 
twenty-two arches.  It was about 900 metres in length. 
Eventually, the bridge fell into a very poor condition and now only four arches remain, as you can see below.

Bridge of Avignon
(Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Chimigi.)
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. 
So, obeying the angels, the little shepherd boy lifted a very large and heavy stone all by himself and declared that it was the first stone of the bridge that he was going to build. 

The local people were very impressed and decided to help Bénézet to build the bridge.  They believed that the boy's strength, when lifting the heavy stone, had come from God.

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 eighteen years.  He did not live long enough to see the completed bridge.  The bridge took many years to construct and was completed a year or so after his death.   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. 
Saint Benezet
(Image from Horizon Provence.  La bannière de la confrérie des portefaix.)

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. 

Here is a version of the song:-

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse.
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tout en rond.

Les beaux garçons font comme ça. (The boys bow.)
Et puis encore comme ça.   (The boys bow again.)

Les belles filles font comme ça.  (The girls curtsey.)
Et puis encore comme ça.  (The girls curtsey again.)

Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse, l'on y danse.
Sur le pont d'Avignon
L'on y danse tout en rond.

 Merci Saint-Bénézet! 
Thank you for your wonderful bridge. 
Merci mille fois! 

For more Famous French People click HERE.

To return to the French Zone, click HERE.