Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Sur le pont d'Avignon
(Canadian Kids Song)

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The tune to this song was in print as far back as 1853. The full song has been around in its current form since 1876.

Sur le pont d'Avignon
On the Bridge of Avignon
Chanson enfantine
(French)
Children's Song
(English)

Sur le pont d'Avignon - Canadian Children's Songs - Canada - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World, Intro Image


Refrain
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tout en rond*

1 Les beaux messieurs font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

Refrain

2 Les belles dames font comme ça
Et puis encore comme ça.

Refrain.

(Chorus)
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing, they are dancing,
On the bridge of Avignon
They are dancing all around.

1. The handsome gentlemen go this way
And then again go that way

(Chorus)

2. The pretty dames go this way
And then again go that way.

(Chorus)

Notes

*This line can be found as "tout en rond" or "tous en rond". "Tout en rond" means something like "quite in a circle", while "tous en rond" means "all in a circle" (all around). "Tout en rond" sounds as if it's insisting on the fact that it's in a circle, while "tous en rond" means that everybody should dance on a circle.

Glen wrote from Canada, "I have fond memories of 'Sur le pont d'Avignon'. I first heard it in the second grade. It and 'Frère Jacques' are the two nearly stereotypical tunes that you hear French language teachers singing to their students here in Canada. Anyhow, I noticed that your lyrics have:

Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse, on y danse
Sur le pont d'Avignon
On y danse tout en rond

But your singer pronounces the last line:

« On y danse tous en rond »

I'm sorry if I seem to be nitpicking here. I believe the meaning of the whole phrase may be slightly different even if the context and general idea stay intact. Just a thought."

Cheers,
Glen

Note from Mama Lisa: Our singer is from France so perhaps it's more popular to sing it that way in France.

Game Instructions

The children dance in a circle on the chorus. On the first verse, the dance stops and the children bow and pretend to raise their hats. On the second verse, the children curtsey to one side, then to the other.

Photos & Illustrations

Sur le pont d'Avignon - Canadian Children's Songs - Canada - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World, Comment Image

Comments

Monique wrote me, "Regarding Sur le pont d'Avignon, there are usually 2 verses, one about the gentlemen, one about the ladies. In some versions, there's a verse about the shoemakers, and in some other versions, there's quite a lot of people!"

I found the following people in my French song books, and online...

Les cordonniers (shoemakers) font comme ça...
Les blanchisseuses (laundresses) ...
Les musiciens (musicians) ...
Les soldats (the soldiers) ...
Les jardiniers (gardeners) ...
Les vignerons (grape growers)
Les couturiers (dressmakers)

*****

Come visit Mama Lisa's World Blog to read more about the Bridge of Avignon and to see photos of the bridge.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Monique Palomares for creating the midi music for this song.

The 1st illustration comes from The Baby's Bouquet, A Fresh Bunch of Rhymes and Tunes by Walter Crane (1878). The 2nd illustration is from Chansons et rondes enfantines (1871) with a little graphical editing by Lisa Yannucci.

Many thanks to Edit' Dupont for singing this song for us!

Merci beaucoup!

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