Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
Many of us learned that song as kids, about the famous Pont d’Avignon in Provence. For those of us lucky enough to see the real bridge in all its glory, we are often surprised because it’s rather short—only about 100 yards long and ending partway across the Rhone River.
Much of the original Pont d’Avignon tumbled into the Rhone centuries ago, a victim of inadequate construction and poor maintenance. Today it’s hard to imagine what it looked like when it was nearly a mile long and spanned the entire river. Was it straight or curved? Was it fortified? Did it have a drawbridge in the middle?
Luckily, a group of scientists and historians has discovered what the bridge looked like and has created a full 3D model of it. There’s even a video that shows what it was like to cross from one side to the other and back!
Read all about it at The Good Life France!
One of the best things about Provence is being able to go to the outdoor markets, and there’s a market every day in one village or another near where we stay in St-Rémy. You get to taste samples, buy delicious produce, rub elbows with the locals–it’s great! And we are lucky because the best market of all is our own, held every Wednesday morning. One of our favorite things to do is to get up early and wander over to see what’s available.
What’s it like to go to our market? Follow me and find out!
Read all about it in Perfectly Provence.
For lovers of Roman history, the city of Nîmes in southern France is a must-see. It was once a major metropolis in Roman Gaul and today boasts a plethora of important sites: there’s the beautiful Maison Carré temple that Thomas Jefferson used it as a model for the Virginia state capital building, a large and well-preserved amphitheater, a massive Roman guard tower, and more.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Nîmes and now here’s another: the Museum of Romanity that opened in 2018. This museum exhibits thousands of fascinating artifacts and covers over 2,500 years of life in the city. And it’s great for kids as well as adults.
Val and I visited it a few weeks ago and had a great time. You can read my report on this terrific museum in France Today.
An hour east of Marseille is the cute little port town of Cassis, one of the prettiest in France. And in between the two are the rugged calanques, the mini-fjords for which the region is famous. With their steep grey cliffs against the deep blue waters of the Med, they are a sight to behold. And the good news is, they are easy to get to.
From Cassis you can take a boat ride to see a few or many of the calanques, with the rides ranging in length from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. You can even hike to some of the calanques if you wear sturdy shoes. It’s a landscape like no other and not to be missed.
Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!
One of the prettiest spots in Provence is the little town of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. It sits next to the Sorgue River and has lovely restaurants along the riverfront, plus some interesting museums and craft centers. But the most amazing thing is the source of the river.
Rather than a series of little streams that slowly build into a river, the Sorgue arrives fully formed, at the base of a cliff just a few hundred yards from the town. This is the “fontaine” (fountain) that gives the town its name–one of the largest springs in the world. Waters gather deep underground and then come to the surface in a pool that spills out in a cascade and becomes the river.
Read all about it in The Good Life France!
In the old days in Provence, flocks of sheep were marched hundreds of miles, to cool mountain pastures, where they would graze during the hot summer months. They passed through village after village in what was called the transhumance, and all the villagers would come out to watch the spectacle.
In the 1960s and 70s, the transhumance faded away as shepherds began to transport their flocks by truck, but then towns like St-Rémy-de-Provence revived the tradition with annual festivals. Held every year on Whit Monday, the modern transhumance features thousands of sheep circling the town, along with shepherds, sheepdogs and the occasional goat. It is like a river of sheet flowing past, a sight not to be forgotten!
Read all about this link to the Provençal past in The Good Life France.
My wife Val and I spend every spring in St-Rémy-de-Provence. One year we received a “French lesson” we weren’t expecting: what happens when your car is broken into. It’s funnier than you think!
This story is adapted from my upcoming book Are We French Yet? You can read the rest of the story at My French Life.
St Rémy de Provence is where my wife and I live part of the year and it’s one of the most charming towns in Provence. Nestled at the foot of the Alpilles Mountains and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, it’s a great place to spend a few days. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite things to do while you’re in town.
You can read all about it at Perfectly Provence.
France is a country with a lot of traditions, and some of the best come from Provence. You may have seen people there playing pétanque, or heard the story about Saint Martha and the Tarasque. But how about the Blessing of the Truffles? Or the young men in their tight white pants? And don’t forget the great sheep migration!
Read all about these and other fun traditions at Frenchly.
Provence is famous for clear blue skies. Its brilliant sunlight has attracted painters such as Cezanne and Matisse as well as scads of tourists. There are plenty of things to see outdoors in Provence, like the colorful ochre mines of Roussillon and the lavender fields of Sault. But what if you happen to visit when the weather is not so great, like it has been this spring? Can you still enjoy Provence in the rain?
Yes ! Read all about how to enjoy a rainy day in Provence at The Good Life France.