If it’s Friday, it must be France …
I’ve been treating myself to a mini-break this week spending time with our adorable grandchildren, golfing, going out to dinner with friends and later today we are going to a family wedding.
My manuscript for novel #2 is with an editor and when I hear back from him, the fun begins! I love the editing and revising part of writing. The insightful and helpful comments and observations from my beta readers (who are such an important part of the whole process) will be carefully considered when I get back to work on the MS in a week or two. A HUGE shout-out to all of them! More about this on Tuesday.
Now it’s time to go to France and today we are stopping in beautiful Avignon, situated in the southeastern Vaucluse region, just over 100 kilometres north of Marseille. (It’s also a town that has a part to play in my novel #2. Guess how much fun I had writing about that?)
Most Canadian schoolchildren, and apparently those in many other countries around the world, learn to sing “Sur Le Pont D’Avignon” as part of their introduction to the French language.
When we first visited this historic and well-preserved town, I was excited about seeing the famous bridge. I’m not sure why, but I really was! Obviously, I hadn’t read the guidebook and travel information too carefully because I was in for a surprise.
Entering through the gates of the preserved walls that have protected the old town for centuries, we wandered the winding streets and treated ourselves to a Papaline or two, which taste way better than they look! The signature sweet of the area, they are actually chocolate filled with a special liqueur made of honey and 60 local herbs.
Then we toured the magnificent and ghostly Palais Des Papes, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic structures in Europe. Avignon is often referred to as the “City Of Popes” since the seat of the Catholic Church moved here from Rome between 1309 and 1377 during the Catholic schism. I’m sure some great mystery novels have been set in these buildings and surroundings! A sense of foreboding and danger filled the vast empty halls.
Our first view of the bridge, properly known as Pont Saint Bénezet, was from a park on top of a rocky outcropping. Mon Dieu … there seemed to be something missing.
Built between 1171 and 1185, the bridge spanned the Rhone River from Avignon to the left bank. Due to flooding, it suffered many collapses and after numerous repairs was finally put out of use in the 1600’s after a catastrophic flood. It stood abandoned for centuries as the river continued to erode the structure and now only 4 arches remain from the original 22.
The original version of the song was “Sous le pont d’Avignon” as there were cafés and dance halls under the arches on a small island the bridge crossed over. People would have danced there under the arches and not on top of the bridge.
In case you find yourself humming the song (trust me, once you start it’s hard to stop!), you can sing along here.
Have you visited Avignon or read any stories set in this town? Did you learn “Sur le pont d’Avignon” in school? Was there a childhood tune you learned that has stayed with you through the years?